The Causeway Coastal Route in Northern Ireland
Scapa Flow is the largest natural harbour in the Northern Hemisphere and has a central place in the geography and hearts of Orcadians. A rich history of use can be seen across the archipelago from the Neolithic to the Viking, Medieval and World War II periods, when Orkney was the base for Royal Navy fleets. Scapa Flow is 125 square miles of sheltered water that is the home for orca pods, dolphins and seals, as well as many species of birds. Visible from anywhere in Orkney, cruise guests can see the scale of this water that is ‘the island’s lifeblood
Ports of Jersey, UK
With its small size, measuring just nine by five miles, the island of Jersey is an ideal location for a day trip. Shaped by the sea, the island has the third largest tidal range in the world, and on spring tides the difference between low and high tide can be up to 12 metres. Additionally, Jersey’s beaches have won multiple awards and rank among the cleanest in the UK. With golden sandy bays in the south, Atlantic waves on the west coast, and the sheltered coves and hidden rock pooling spots on the north and east, Jersey’s beaches provide a variety of natural landscapes to explore.
Foyle Port, Northern Ireland
The spectacular Causeway Coastal Route stretches from Foyle Port in Derry-Londonderry in the northwest of Ireland. With dramatic cliffs, picturesque fishing villages and ancient castle ruins along the winding coastline, there is plenty for cruise guests to explore. The showstopper is the spectacular rock formation of the Unesco World Heritage Site, the Giant’s Causeway, which is just under an hour’s drive from the port and delights as the most popular shore excursion. The rugged, raw elemental beauty of the landscape filled with mythical stories truly captures the thrill of nature and adventure!
Only 11 miles off the coast of Alicante in Spain is the uninhabited island of Tabarca. Accessible by boat from Alicante, this island has been designated as a Marine Reserve by the Spanish Government since 1986. A variety of marine fauna including sea bass, grouper, conger eel and gilthead are protected in this area by an artificial reef that was laid near the island by the Marine Reserve authorities, and the area was declared a ‘Zone of Special Protection for Birds’ by the European Union. Moreover, Alicante’s proximity to Tabarca positions the port as an ideal destination for cruise operators looking to engage stargazing enthusiasts. In the winter for example, constellations such as Orion, Taurus and Auriga can all be seen from the island.
Crotone, home to Pythagoras and a Greek-founded city more ancient than Rome, is Italy’s largest marine protected area, spanning 15,000 hectares. Nestled by the sea, its historic core features the impressive Castle of Carlos V and an ancient cathedral dedicated to the Madonna Nera. The region is adorned with ancient towers and castles that are centuries old, including the sea-bound Aragon Fortress of Le Castella. Crotone also serves as a gateway to the towering Sila Mountains, a 150,000-hectare region. Within the Sila National Park, located an hour from Crotone, cruise guests can explore villages and participate in water sports activities like river rafting.
Port of Tromsø, Norway
Cruise guests can immerse themselves in the captivating wonders of Tromsø, where nature paints its artistry across the Arctic sky between September and March with the northern lights. Visitors during this time can see lights of green, purple and blue. They can also experience the phenomenon of the midnight sun, where the sun casts a warm golden glow across the landscape even during the latest hours of the night and earliest of the morning.
Port of Turku, Finland
Sometimes, the journey is just as important as the destination. This can surely be said about the stunning archipelago leading to the port and city of Turku. The vast archipelago area consists of over 40,000 islands and islets, all of which are unique in their own way. As visitors approach the Port of Turku, the fairway narrows and the scenery is adorned with multiple historic villas on both sides. The archipelago offers pristine natural scenery and tranquillity, as well as authentic and active experiences such as kayaking and cycling.
Northern Territory, Australia
Australia’s Northern Territory is home to some of the most iconic natural wonders of the world, along with an ancient Aboriginal culture that is intrinsically connected to the land. Onshore opportunities include scenic flight tours to explore the World Heritage-listed Kakadu National Park. Guests can see horizons from the air, as well as spot crocodiles and other wildlife in their natural habitat. They can also visit one of the thousands of Aboriginal rock art sites in the park to learn more about the oldest living culture in the world. Only 90 minutes from Darwin Port, passengers can experience the Litchfield National Park, an ancient landscape shaped by water, featuring waterfalls and crystal clear pools surrounded by monsoonal forests.
Prince Rupert, Canada
The Butze Rapids trailhead, just a 10-minute drive from the Prince Rupert Cruise Port in British Columbia, Canada, rewards walkers with views of the Pacific Northwest along with strategic stops and informative signage. Visitors can explore the unique Great Bear Rainforest ecosystem, brimming with rich flora, fauna and Indigenous heritage. They can also witness the dramatic reversing tidal rapids phenomenon, most striking during extreme tide ranges, and peak flows between high and low water. The trail meanders through second- and old-growth forests in the Coastal Western Hemlock bio geoclimatic zone, including open muskegs and stunted shore pines, shaped by challenging growing conditions.
St. Kitts, Caribbean
St. Kitts boasts a rare, expanding rainforest that allows travellers to experience nature and encounter a vibrant variety of wildlife. Originally named Liamuiga, meaning ‘fertile land’, the island is home to an array of animals such as hummingbirds and vervet monkeys. Cruise guests can come face to face with these animals and see tropical plants like soursop and banana trees on a guided rainforest walk. They can also hike up Mount Liamuiga, the dormant volcano that is the island’s highest mountain and offers views of the rainforest below.
This article was first published in the 2024 issue of Cruise & Ferry Itinerary Planning. All information was correct at the time of printing but may since have changed. Subscribe to Cruise & Ferry Itinerary Planning for FREE to get the next issue delivered directly to your inbox.