What makes a cruise destination special?

CFR discovers the attributes that continue to delight passengers at ports around the world

What makes a cruise destination special?
The new Zadar Cruise Port terminal was opened in April 2019

By Alex Smith |

Port Canaveral, Florida, USA  

Port Canaveral is a gateway for cruises to Florida, hosting nearly five million cruise passengers annually at its well-equipped terminals. Cruise guests benefit from easy access, ample parking facilities, and efficient arrivals and departures.    

Five global cruise lines choose Port Canaveral to homeport some of their largest and most popular ships, which sail three-, four- and seven-night itineraries from the port. Plus, many vessels stop for a day to allow guests to explore one of Orlando’s famous theme parks, visit the nearby NASA Kennedy Space Center, or relax on the uncrowded and pristine Jetty Park Beach. And, as Port Canaveral is the first port to supply LNG fuel to ships in North America, cruise partners can ensure that they keep their environmental impact to a minimum when they call.  

Cagliari, Italy  

A coastline adorned with ancient granites, fragrant mastic and golden gorse surrounds Sardinia, the oldest island in the Mediterranean Sea. Cagliari Cruise Port is the gateway to its wild south. Its position in the centre of the Western Mediterranean is ideal for itinerary planners, as are its large docks capable of safely accommodating the newest large ships. The modern transport network allows visitors to access a wide range of local activities that offer both relaxation and thrills. Passengers can leave the ship and stroll through the heart of the city to discover its ancient streets and panoramic terraces, as well as the largest city beach in Europe, the Poetto.    

Zadar, Croatia  

Situated in the centre of the Croatian Adriatic coast, Zadar is a vibrant historical town with Roman ruins and medieval churches and fortifications, all intertwined with an array of cafes, wine bars and restaurants offering Mediterranean gastronomic experiences. The surrounding Dalmatian region, meanwhile, offers a range of both relaxing and exciting activities.  

The new Zadar Cruise Port terminal was opened in April 2019 and is an ideal Adriatic port for both transit and turnaround cruise operations for ships of all sizes. The first Croatian port to be awarded as Port of the Year, it has a two-floor terminal building, offering various services for visitors, passengers and crew.  

Ravenna, Italy  

Ravenna offers many attractions for cruise guests, including a total of eight monuments on the Unesco World Cultural Heritage List. The port is surrounded by wetlands on the Romagna Riviera and offers the famous cuisine of the Emilia Romagna region. Its location makes it easy for ships to reach destinations including Bologna, Florence and San Marino, as well as the city of Venice, of which Ravenna is an alternative port. Its variety of excursions makes the so-called City of Mosaics attractive to both passengers and itinerary planners, who can easily include it in their itineraries for the upper Adriatic alongside sailings to Italy, Slovenia, Croatia and Montenegro.  

Taranto, Italy  

A city of ancient Spartan origins, Taranto boasts a thousand-year-old port which has only recently opened to the cruise public. Now, visitors can sail into Taranto to discover its Greek roots, admire the stone mermaids sitting on its rocks, the beaches of Salento, the white trulli of Alberobello and the stones of Matera. Taranto is currently at the centre of numerous growth projects, which also involve the port and the local area dedicated to cruise tourism. Taranto Cruise Port docks can safely accommodate the largest ships in the industry, and the works for the new Falanto cruise terminal, a futuristic structure created to support intense transit and turnaround traffic, are now almost complete.  

Istanbul, Turkey  

Ready to welcome guests in 2021, Galataport Istanbul is a $1.7 billion project that will revive and redefine Istanbul’s historic port as an exciting lifestyle destination that covers about a mile of coastline right by the Bosphorus strait. Galataport Istanbul is home to modern cruise facilities, including the world’s first underground cruise terminal with a special hatch system. This creates a temporary customs area that turns the historic port of Istanbul into a unique promenade, giving access to an area that has been closed to the public for almost 200 years.  

Galataport Istanbul’s founder, Erkunt Öner, will be truly missed as a leader and an innovator in the cruise industry after his recent passing. He tirelessly promoted homeport cruising from Istanbul and was not only a visionary in the cruise industry, but also a key figure in promoting cruising for the Turkish people.  

Catania, Sicily  

The fresh scent of citrus fruits, the mild weather of southern Italy, markets full of people – all of this and more can be found in Catania on the south-east coast of Sicily. When arriving by cruise ship, passengers can admire the large Catania Cruise Port on the city waterfront, which is framed by the imposing figure of Mount Etna, the highest active volcano in Eurasia. On its slopes, guests can experience a variety of excursions, from extreme trekking to a food and wine experience or skiing.   

Able to accommodate both transit and turnaround operations, Catania boasts an important tourist harbour, which makes it particularly suitable for pre- and post-cruise packages. Furthermore, its position very close to Valletta, Malta, makes it suitable to be included in both East and West Mediterranean itineraries.  

San Diego, California, USA  

The Port of San Diego is a destination where cruise guests can relax in a laid-back atmosphere and experience the friendliness of its residents and the hospitality of its businesses. On offer are a range of options for dining and shopping. Visitors can watch the sunset as they enjoy a San Diego Symphony performance at the new Rady Shell at Jacobs Park, or choose from four different restaurants at Portside Pier. The Seaport Village, meanwhile, offers visitors classic craft beer or cocktails and everything from freshly caught seafood to burgers, along with live music.  

Antigua and Barbuda  

Home to 365 beaches and delightful experiences for those who visit its shores, Antigua and Barbuda is a popular favourite with cruise guests.  

Antigua Cruise Port offers cruise partners port management services including berthing, provisioning, logistics, maintenance support and more in one of the most desirable locations in the world. Its growing facility is carefully maintained, ensuring passengers have a memorable and unique experience.   

Hong Kong  

Hong Kong is a world-class cruise destination that offers international connectivity, first-rate facilities, impeccable hospitality, one-of-a-kind experiences, and much more. The port is constantly developing innovative excursion ideas that cover diverse selection of places for travellers to discover and rediscover different aspects of the city once the border reopens. While ensuring an enjoyable experience for cruise travellers, the port also invests on all fronts to support its trade partners in developing the cruise industry in the region.  

Harwich, UK  

Harwich, an historic maritime port, has many associations with famous characters. These include English naval administrator and diarist Samuel Pepys and Christopher Jones, master of the Mayflower, who sailed to America in 1620 with some of the very first pilgrims.  

The port is an easy and convenient gateway to the South East of England, and the numerous visitor destinations on offer. Located nearby, London and Cambridge provide an array of attractions including theatres, shopping and river walks while the east coast counties of Suffolk and Norfolk offer scenic rural landscapes.  

This article was first published in the Autumn/Winter 2021 issue of Cruise & Ferry Review. All information was correct at the time of printing, but may since have changed. 

Subscribe to Cruise & Ferry Review for FREE to get the next issue delivered directly to your inbox or your door. 

Contact author


Subscribe to the Cruise & Ferry newsletter

  • ©2024 Tudor Rose. All Rights Reserved. Cruise & Ferry is published by Tudor Rose.