There has long been a common misconception that cruising only takes you to paradise islands and sandy enclaves, but what if whiling away the hours at the beach is your idea of holiday hell? While lazing poolside for hours on end is some people’s idea of heaven, for others it couldn’t be more boring a prospect (though we’re sure it beats a day at work back home, right?). Luckily, cruising can take you to destinations around the world, including some of its most vibrant and bustling cities. If you prefer holidays filled with exploration and days spent discovering hidden corners of a brand new city, banish the beach boredom and check out one of these urban metropolises instead in our guide to city cruises.
Imagine cruising into New York City, the iconic skyline on the horizon and the Statue of Liberty bidding you good morning as you pass her by. Whether you’re calling at New York as part of a USA and Canada cruise itinerary or heading transatlantic, beach boredom will be a distant memory from the moment you take your first bite of the Big Apple.
Lose yourself in Central Park, shop discount designer at Century 21 or treat yourself on Fifth Avenue, imagine living a life of luxury with a stroll on the Upper East Side, or venture across the Brooklyn Bridge, pausing for photographs before seeing a more laidback and gentrified way of life to that you left behind in Manhattan. Look out for newlyweds on the steps of City Hall, catch spontaneous performances of ballet and street dance in Union Square and make sure you soak up the atmosphere at least once in the neon jungle of Times Square. Watch an award-winning show on Broadway, grab a hotdog or sweet smelling honey-roasted nuts from a street cart and watch the old guys fishing off Battery Park. If you’re bored in New York, you’ve nobody to blame but yourself!
Rio de Janeiro
If you would rather combine a bit of beach time with some colourful carnival vibes, Rio de Janeiro offers the best of both. Once you’ve got your head around the incredible views on approach to port, disembark and spend an hour or two topping up your tan on the iconic Copacabana and Ipanema beaches, before heading into the city for a hefty dose of hustle and bustle set to a samba beat.
Take a scenic cable car ride to the top of Sugar Loaf Mountain or jump on the red narrow-gauge train through the Parque Nacional de Tijuca, where you will find Corcovado Mountain’s most popular attraction; the 39 metre high statue of Christ the Redeemer. Recognised as one of the 7 new wonders of the world, words may just evade you once you’re within touching distance of something recognised the world over. Photographs are a must, not just of Christ the Redeemer, but also the sweeping views across Guanabara Bay.
The Canadian city of Quebec is one of the oldest European settlements in North America and looks as unlike your stereotypical city as one could ever imagine. Soaring skyscrapers are replaced with turreted castles and a distinctly European charm lingers over the whole city.
The UNESCO World Heritage Site of Old Quebec is perhaps the city’s star attraction; stroll the promenade in Old Port, visiting the antiques stores, art galleries and lazy sidewalk cafes that line up along it. Watch life go by at Pointe-à-Caray on St Lawrence River or visit Château Frontenac; the most photographed hotel in the world. The wooden boardwalk of Dufferin Terrace is lined with quaint shops more befitting of a European city and centuries-old architecture is given an added hint of nostalgia thanks to the horse drawn carriages that parade along the streets.
The Saint-Anne-de-Beaupré-Shrine has stood as a major pilgrimage site for over 350 years and is rather spectacular and definitely worth a visit. If you prefer natural wonders to man-made, head to Montmorency Falls Park, where you’ll find the Montmorency Falls standing at an imposing 83 metres high; even taller than Niagara Falls.
Sitting on Thailand’s east coast, Bangkok is unlike any other city in the world. In this city of contradictions, it isn’t unusual to find gleaming ancient temples sitting at the foot of modern skyscrapers. Make the most of the city by throwing yourself into the way of life completely; eat pàt tai from one of the hundreds of food carts that roll through the city, soak in the cacophony of sights and sounds that arise from all angles, take a tuk-tuk to the shopping district in Pratunam and find almost anything imaginable at the frenetic yet exciting Chatuchak flea market.
Head to the Sky Bar at dusk to indulge with pricey cocktails that seem a steal when you take into account the views with which they are enjoyed; it is at this iconic rooftop bar where you will find panoramic views across the entire city. Listen to live jazz any night of the week and enjoy a chic atmosphere that provides the perfect antidote to the hustle and bustle of the city.
A river cruise is a great way to see all facets of Bangkok, from the restaurants and warehouse night markets that line the river banks, to the glittering Grand Palace and Wat Arum that sit illuminated against the skyline as you pass.
Whether you love Bangkok or hate it, you’ll never have seen anywhere quite like it!