15 Under-the-Radar Cruise Ports to Visit Before Anyone Else
Not all ships dock in major cities or popular Caribbean islands; in fact, some of the most intriguing sights and destinations may be hidden behind an unfamiliar name. These 15 smaller ports lead to some major world sights that are off the beaten path.
Vega de Terrón, Portugal
courtesy Vega de Terron, Salamanca
Sail along the Douro River on the Viking Torgil for a port of call in Vega de Terrón. A popular excursion from this border town is a bus tour to Salamanca, Spain, a UNESCO World Heritage site. This ancient town shows off a history that dates back to the Middle Ages and magnificent sandstone architecture. Don’t miss the famous main square, Plaza Mayor; the University of Salamanca, which is the world’s fourth-oldest college; or the Salamanca Cathedral, which has portions dating back to the 1100s.
courtesy Windstar Cruises
Sailing through the incredible feat of engineering that is the Panama Canal is a once-in-a-lifetime experience. Want to live it for yourself? You’ll likely embark in the city of Colón on the Caribbean coast. Cruisers on the 212-passenger, all-suite Windstar Star Breeze get to check out the inner workings of the Canal from above before crossing it on the ship. You can also explore the area’s indigenous culture or take the famous aerial tram for a bird’s-eye view of the rainforest canopy below. Explore these little-known cruises that leave the Bahamas in the dust.
courtesy Tourism Western Australia
Considered the gateway to the Kimberley region of Western Australia, this port is popular with outdoorsy folks interested in hiking, riding camels on Cable Beach, and “glamping” in the wilderness while learning more about the area’s aboriginal culture. Broome is also the ideal place to witness the Staircase to the Moon, a natural phenomenon that takes place when the full moon rises high over the beach’s exposed mudflats at low tide. What results is an optical illusion of a staircase reaching up to the sky. Kimberley is known for its natural beauty, including the world’s only horizontal waterfalls; impressive Lake Argyle in Kununurra, which is ten times as large as Sydney Harbour; and dinosaur footprints that date back more than 130 million years. Well-known cruise lines, including Princess, Crystal, and Silversea Expeditions, all take cruisers along this coastline, while Ocean Dream Charters and the Great Escape Charter Company are two local providers that lead small-scale cruises in the region.
Terri Butler Photography/Shutterstock
Sail the Amazon River in luxury aboard Jungle Experiences’ MV Zafiro from the town of Nauta, Peru, seven miles from the mighty river’s source. Guests take smaller boat excursions from the ship deep into the jungle to glimpse local tribespeople; eclectic wildlife, including parrots and monk saki monkeys; and a diverse range of fauna.
Nizhny Novgorod, Russia
Chances are, you have never heard of this city, but it is among the biggest and most beautiful cities in Russia. Hop aboard the Scenic Tsar for a trip down the Volga River for a visit to Nizhny Novgorod. Among its claims to fame are the highest cable car in Europe and a Kremlin of its own, and one of the world’s coolest McDonald’s. Read about some of the wackiest themed cruises around the world.