It’s that time of year again. After compiling the results of over a million votes, leading travel publication Conde Nast Traveler has revealed the world’s friendliest destinations. As lovers of all things travel, we’re always excited to find out which of the world’s cities offer the warmest welcome (and we’re not just talking weather). This time around, it was something else that caught our attention, and that was the fact that each and every destination on the list can be found on a cruise itinerary.
So here they are, the world’s friendliest destinations and the cruise lines that will take you there.
10. Reykjavik, Iceland
Look at this colourful city from above and it appears to be something of a Lego land. Delve a little deeper and the world’s most northerly capital city has plenty to offer its visitors, including some of the friendliest locals in the world. Those surveyed described Reykjavik as “like nowhere else in Europe”, with hip locals who know how to party and who offer a great sense of “culture, intellect, sophistication and friendliness”.
9. Auckland, New Zealand
Auckland tied for the top spot in 2014 and though the destination has slipped to ninth position for 2015, it remains high in the estimations of those who have visited. Auckland’s inhabitants were described as “unbelievably friendly folk” and some of the “most polite and accommodating in the world”. It sounds like spectacular mountain scenery, lush greenery and pretty coves aren’t all the destination has to offer.
Many cruise lines venture to Auckland as part of their longer itineraries, either as part of a world cruise or as part of an Australasia and New Zealand programme. Those visiting the city include Cunard, Princess Cruises, P&O Cruises, Celebrity Cruises and Holland America Line.
8. Budapest, Hungary
Often affectionately referred to as the Pearl of the Danube, Budapest has defied a tumultuous history and continues to charm its visitors. Those voting described it as full of “friendly people anxious to show everyone everything”, mentioning also the music for which the city has become well known; “music wherever we went…not just concerts, but in the streets on the radio, and in cafes.”
7. Kyoto, Japan
Beautiful pink cherry blossoms aren’t all that attracts people to the Japanese city of Kyoto. Whilst the Japanese are widely regarded as a reserved nation, voters were quick to sing their praises; “the Japanese are extremely friendly. The best way to get to know them is to visit the same places more than once”.
Many cruise lines visit the port of Osaka, with excursions taking you into the realm of the ancient imperial capital of Kyoto from there. Operators include Princess Cruises, Azamara Club Cruises and Oceania Cruises are amongst those who visit the region.
6. Edinburgh, UK
Scotland may not be known for its warm weather but it sure knows how to extend a warm welcome. Visitors recognised the famous Scottish zest for life, praising “wonderful pubs filled with laughter” and “local musicians playing and everyone smiling and singing along”.
A British Isles cruise is the perfect excuse to re-familiarise yourself with the delights of destinations closer to home and cruise lines including Fred Olsen, P&O Cruises, Cunard and Princess Cruises regularly set sail around the British coast.
5. Bruges, Belgium
Incredible architecture and the sweet smell of chocolate lure travellers to Bruges, but it is the hospitality of its locals that keeps them there. Considered the epitome of an old European city, voters preached about the city’s ability to transport them a million miles away from reality; “Being in Bruges is like being in a fairy tale. Literally every time I turned a corner I expected Prince Charming to show up because I felt like Cinderella at the ball”.
Bruges is a mini-cruise favourite with the likes of Cunard and P&O Cruises, though it also features on the itineraries of river cruise lines, offering a whole new vantage point on the city. APT, AmaWaterways and Viking River Cruises all offer excursions to the city.
4. Kraków, Poland
With a quaint and history-drenched Old Town, cobbled backstreets and Europe’s largest market square, Kraków doesn’t disappoint its visitors. Despite this, it retains the feel of a city that isn’t over-exposed, keeping certain secrets for itself and its locals. Fortunately, these locals like to share, imparting their insider knowledge on the ears of those who visit the former royal capital. The “friendliest locals you’ll ever meet” are all too happy to adventure around the city with you, with one voter remembering the advice of one local to “climb the stairs to the top of Wawel Castle’s tower and touch the Sigismund Bell for good luck”.
Many opt to enjoy a short stay in Kraków before embarking on a river cruise along the Elbe, with Viking River Cruises amongst those who offer the destination.
3. Queenstown, New Zealand
Picturesque Queenstown is home to some of the world’s most impressive scenery, however that isn’t the only thing luring visitors to its shores and encouraging many of those who do visit to trade it all in for a life less ordinary in one of New Zealand’s most scenic spots. Described by voters as “the birthplace of adventure tourism” and “loads of fun, great for people-watching”, Queenstown’s locals are determined to make sure that you have a thoroughly good time in between glacier tours and winery explorations. “You can’t NOT have a good time in Queenstown” remarked one visitor.
Cruise lines including Celebrity Cruises offer excursions to Queenstown, with many taking it as an opportunity to visit the awe-inspiring Milford Sound; Queenstown’s cruising highlight.
2. Dublin, Ireland
‘The luck of the Irish’ is a phrase banded about regularly and you’ll struggle to find a better pint the world over, but when it comes to a break in Dublin, it’s the locals that make the city shine. “The people make the place” according to one voter, with another remarking “I’ve never been somewhere with friendlier drinkers”. Our guide to the best Guinness in Dublin will help you find the perfect pint, but there’s plenty more on offer in a city that has been touted as the next Barcelona (they’re still working on the weather). Up from fifth place in 2014, Dublin’s popularity continues to boom.
It’s easy to forget what we have on our own doorsteps, especially with the promise of a little sun elsewhere, but a British Isles cruise with the likes of P&O Cruises, Fred Olsen, Celebrity Cruises or Cunard is the perfect way to see cities like Dublin. Look out for those with overnight stays to allow you to see the city at night, when it comes alive.
1. Sydney, Australia
We knew it wasn’t just the weather luring all those expats down under and it seems that the world’s friendliest city has plenty more to offer aside from near perfect climates and sun-soaked beaches in abundance. Sydney has soared from fifth place last year, taking the top spot with huge acclaim from voters. “Such friendly people,” enthused one reader, “so much so that after we met an Australian woman on our flight there, she offered to pick us up at our hotel and spent a whole day showing us her favourite parts of the city”. Boat and bike tours were up there with the best ways to see the city, with one visitor proclaiming: “You haven’t seen the place properly if you haven’t done the famous bridge climb”.
Sailing beneath the Sydney Harbour Bridge on your approach into the city is an experience in itself, and almost all cruise lines offer Sydney as a port on Australasian itineraries.
Which of the world’s friendliest cities will you be cruising to next? We think a weekend in Dublin is in order, following by adventures on further-flung shores. Sydney or Auckland sound pretty tempting!