Adding a shore stay to the start or end of your cruise is becoming increasingly popular, especially among travellers who've cruised before and want to inject some extra interest into their holiday.
As the range of ports grows so does the scope of cruise-and-stay choices, with beach breaks, city stays or even overnight rail trips all lending themselves to cruise-and-stay packages. Such options are not only becoming more popular, but more imaginative too as cruise lines and travel companies cotton on to this growing trend. Some lines offer their own cruise-and-stay deals while others work with specialist cruise agents or tour operators who put together unique packages.
Here's a selection of some of the best places to combine with your cruise, based on what attractions and hotels they offer and how easily they can be reached by flights. All these factors add up to the ideal pre- and post-cruise stays for U.K. cruisers!
This colourful Catalan city is a magnet for art and architecture fans thanks to its renowned Gaudi-inspired creations, with his most famous work-in-progress, Sagrada Familia, dominating the skyline. Visitors will also find chic boutiques and stylish restaurants lining the city streets, while nearby is the fun-filled Port Aventura theme park. Barcelona is easy to get around by foot or public transport. Cruise ships dock on the waterfront, a 20-minute walk from the famous Las Ramblas shopping street, while shuttle buses also run from the cruise terminals to the Christopher Columbus monument at the foot of Las Ramblas.
The Italian capital is the star of many a Mediterranean cruise itinerary, enabling visitors to tick off the glories of Ancient Rome, most notably the Colosseum, the Pantheon and the Roman Forum. Then there are the Spanish Steps that lead to the Trinita dei Monti restaurant with stunning views of the city; the romantic Trevi Fountain; and the glories of Vatican City. The coastal town of Civitavecchia is the official port for Rome and is a 90-minute drive away. There's also a good train service that takes just over an hour.
Charming, romantic and full of history, the canals and waterfront palaces (or palazzi) of this unique Renaissance city are an irresistible draw for travellers wanting to stay a few days. It is easy to explore on foot with photo opportunities at every turn, especially at St Mark's Square and the Rialto Bridge, and a short boat ride away are the must-visit islands of Murano and Burano. Smaller ships depart from the Stazione Marittima, which can be reached by the vaporetto water buses, but most ships dock at the Venezia Terminal Passeggeri, which is slightly further away but served by taxis and cruise ship shuttles.
The Balearic island of Majorca is a long-standing favourite thanks to its atmospheric capital Palma whose skyline is dominated by its largely Gothic cathedral surrounded by a maze of tiny streets filled with cafes, bars and boutiques. The holiday isle is famous for its beach resorts, from the bright lights of Magaluf and the pretty family-friendly resort of Puerto Pollensa to the scenic unspoilt beauty of Deja and dramatic, jagged cliffs of Cap de Formentor. Cruises dock at Palma's port, a 40-minute walk from the old town, though there are buses and taxis.
North & South America
The City That Never Sleeps is a perfect cruise-and-stay candidate. It boasts iconic draws such as the Empire State Building, Statue of Liberty and Central Park along with a clutch of the world's top museums and galleries, plus leading shows on Broadway. So if you can't find something here, you're doing it wrong! It's easy to get around Manhattan on foot, in its famous yellow taxis or reasonably-priced subway. Several ships depart the midtown pier in Manhattan, while Cunard's Queen Mary 2 transatlantic sailings arrive and depart the Brooklyn Cruise Terminal. Royal Caribbean International ships depart from Cape Liberty Cruise Port in Bayonne, New Jersey, seven miles south of Manhattan.
The world's theme park capital, where the delights of Walt Disney World, Universal Orlando Resort and SeaWorld can be found, lies roughly an hour's drive from the Port Canaveral cruise terminal, while closer to Port Canaveral is the Kennedy Space Center. There's no chance of getting bored. Catch up with Mickey Mouse and the gang at Disney or immerse yourself in the magic of the Wizarding World of Harry Potter at Universal. If you're not staying at the parks, getting around can be a challenge so it is best to rent a car. This not only makes it easier to explore Orlando's attractions, but those further afield. Check with your cruise line to see what transfers are offered between Orlando and Port Canaveral.
Stylish Miami is arguably the world's cruise capital. The oceanfront at Miami Beach is lined with powder-white sands and swish hotels; while glamorous enclave South Beach is noted for its Art Deco hotels and buzzing bars. Shopping is a big distraction with several malls, but there's culture too with the Perez Art Museum Miami and fascinating Wynwood Arts District. The Port of Miami is a five-minute drive from the downtown area. A 45-minute ride along the coast is Fort Lauderdale which boasts the same dazzling beachfront, but with a more upscale ambience. Away from the beaches are shopping malls, alligator-spotting trips to the Everglades and boat trips through Fort Lauderdale's canal network. The Port Everglades cruise port is just a few minutes from the downtown area.
This Canadian city doesn't only enjoy a spectacular setting, but a vibrant cultural mix and lively arts scene too. Visitors can walk, take the harbour ferry, jump aboard the SkyTrain or explore the city's sights on a Hop-on Hop-off tour that takes in First Nation totem poles at Brockton Point, Vancouver Aquarium and the cobblestone streets of the historic Gastown area. The cruise ship terminal at Canada Place is a 10-15-minute taxi ride from most downtown hotels and can also be reached by the SkyTrain. Vancouver is also the arrival and departure point for the Rocky Mountaineer train, renowned for its scenic trips through the Canadian Rockies, and most popular add-on for British travellers taking Alaska cruises from the city.
This Argentine hotspot is full of Latin vibe and famous as the tango capital of South America. But it's also known for its steakhouses, museums and wine. Must-see sites include the National Museum of Fine Arts; the MALBA museum of Latin American Art; the pink palace in Plaza de Mayo from where Argentina's legendary leader Eva Peron addressed the crowds; the Recoleta Cemetery, where she is buried; plus the Museo Evita, dedicated to her life. The main historic and cultural highlights are located within a compact and walkable area. If you've got a few days, make sure you book an evening dinner and tango show and take a tour into the wine region or a nearby ranch. The city's cruise terminal is half a mile from the centre, so taxis are the best bet.
It's among the most popular islands for Britons and a major departure point for Caribbean cruises. Beautiful powder-sand beaches, high-class restaurants and extravagant hotels make it an ideal place to stay. The island is packed with attractions, the most popular being the subterranean complex of tunnels and pools at Harrison's Cave; restored plantation houses dating from colonial times, rum distilleries, Atlantis submarine tours and the Farley Hill National Park, home to the Barbados Wildlife Reserve where visitors can spot the island's famous Barbados Green Monkey. Taxis and buses offer the best way of getting around. Alternatively visitors can book a tour or hire a car. The cruise terminal is located a mile to the west of the capital Bridgetown.
With its beautiful rugged landscape and diverse selection of hotels, this exotic island has much to tempt visitors into staying longer. Climbing Dunn's River Falls near Ocho Rios is arguably the most popular pastime in Jamaica, while nearby Mystic Mountain boasts a fun bobsleigh ride and canopy tour through the treetops. For a taste of Jamaica's rich history visit the restored – and reputedly haunted – plantation house Rose Hall, or take a gentle river rafting trip. Active types can cycle into the Blue Mountains for the best views or hike through wild Cockpit Country. Getting around is by organised tours or JUTA or PP-plated taxis. The main ports along Jamaica's north coast are Montego Bay and nearby Falmouth, so check with your cruise line to see what transfers are offered.
Famously the home of rum and revolution, Cuba is the current hot story of the Caribbean. Warming relations with the USA are bringing this Communist nation in from the cold, and rising interest from American travellers is sparking increased demand from Britons keen to experience this unique destination before it changes. The capital, Havana, is a mix of old and new, from the vast Revolution Square to the historic colonial buildings of Old Havana. The pristine beaches along its northern coast are lined with tourist resorts including Varadero and Cayo Coco, while Cuba's rugged interior is home to the Sierra Maestra Mountains and atmospheric cities of Trinidad and Santiago de Cuba. The cruise port in Havana is centrally located opposite the old town.
Midde East & Asia
This desert playground is famous for luxurious headline hotels: think the sail-shaped Burj Al Arab; masses of designer stores and some of the world's largest shopping malls; plus ambitious attractions such as Ski Dubai, where snow really does fall and you can don skis to slalom down its powder-white slopes. Take in the views from the world's tallest building, Burj Khalifa or head out into the desert to go wadi bashing in a 4x4 on a dune safari, stopping at a Bedouin camp or floating over the landscape in a hot-air balloon. Ships dock at the Dubai Cruise Terminal at Port Rashid where there are regular shuttles into the city and taxi services.
This neon metropolis has something to appeal to everyone, but its most prominent feature is Victoria Peak, where sightseers can take the funicular train to the top for the best views over Victoria Harbour, Kowloon and beyond. Spend the day exploring the restaurants, shops and museums at the summit, or go for an easy hike along its walking trail. And don't forget the markets; there are several for bargain-hunters to choose from across the city. Ships dock at one of two locations: Ocean Terminal in Victoria Harbour or Kai Tak on the East Kowloon waterfront. Both can be reached by ferry, bus, taxi or a pre-arranged cruise line shuttle.
As one of the world's largest retail hubs, Singapore is the place for some irresistible pre-cruise shopping. But amid the malls and department stores sits the city state's colonial district with hawker markets serving a rich menu of street food that's a sure-fire hit with foodies. The easiest way to get around is by the MRT train, though taxis are also plentiful. Ships depart from two cruise terminals: the Singapore Cruise Centre, a 15-minute taxi ride from downtown; the MRT stops there, too, and the Marina Bay Cruise Centre. This is further afield and requires a train ride with a longish walk, a taxi ride or a transfer booked through your cruise line.
Anyone lucky enough to start or end their cruise in this iconic city would be wasting a golden opportunity if they didn't spend a few days here. There's no shortage of things to see and do, from touring Sydney Opera House and taking the adrenaline-pumping Sydney Harbour Bridge Climb to surfing lessons at Bondi Beach or visiting Taronga Zoo to feed the kangaroos. Getting around Sydney is easy. There's a monorail, plus trains and buses to get you everywhere. Catch your cruise ship from one of two terminals. Bigger ships depart from the Overseas Passenger Terminal in Circular Quay; public transport abounds there. Smaller ships dock outside of the city at White Bay; a pricey taxi ride is your best bet.
--By Sara Macefield, Cruise Critic contributor