When it comes to cruising, getting there is a big part of the fun — but exploring the destination is also exciting.
In Hawaii, the sightseeing starts when you sail along the coast of the Big Island and see multi-story clouds of steam where hot lava from the Kilauea Volcano enters the cold ocean. It’s also possible to see humpback whales and pods of dolphins — and what’s more fun than a glass of Champagne with a shipboard sunset?
On the Kona Coast of the Big Island, you can visit a high country cattle ranch near Waimea, tour a coffee plantation, or go snorkeling. A helicopter excursion over the erupting volcano is another great option.
Cruising along the coast of Alaska also provides panoramic views — but here the subject is enormous glaciers and snow-covered peaks. Sitka is my favorite port because I love walking among the many totems in Sitka National Historic Park. While cruises operate in this part of the world from May through September, be aware that those months can be quite chilly.
Some Alaska cruises depart from Vancouver, and savvy passengers will allow time to enjoy this beautiful Canadian city before sailing. Stanley Park, Vancouver’s wonderful urban oasis, is surrounded by water and a seven-mile seawall — perfect for running, walking, or biking. Also not to be missed: Granville Island Public Market, one of the world’s best places to browse, eat, and people watch.
Down Under, Sydney is easily the most popular cruise destination. Ships sailing into the gorgeous harbor pass in front of the beautiful Sydney Opera House — the Southern Hemisphere’s most famous landmark. Liners dock at either the new White Bay Terminal or the Overseas Passenger Terminal at Circular Quay. From the OPT, it’s an easy walk to the Ferry Terminal, Opera House, Royal Botanic Gardens, and historic Rocks District.
Having spent many happy months in Sydney while I was writing Frommer’s Australia, it’s hard to imagine having only a day or two to see all that this city has to offer. If your cruise starts or ends in Sydney, be sure to see a performance at the Opera House and explore Circular Quay, George Street, The Rocks, and Darling Harbour.
Auckland, New Zealand — like Sydney — overlooks a beautiful harbor. Start exploring at the excellent
Maritime Museum near the cruise terminal, then catch a ferry to Devonport — popular for its heritage buildings, shops, cafes and great view back to The City of Sails. Elizabeth Hansen