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Going on an African Safari From a Cruise

11 Best Ports for Overnight Cruise Stops

Chris Gray Faust
Managing Editor
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 (Photo: dimbar76/Shutterstock)

Cruising often gives you the highlights of a port, without the opportunity for in-depth exploration. Luckily, more cruise lines have been adding overnights in major cities and fun destinations so you have more time to see the major sights, go out to a fabulous restaurant and maybe even dance until dawn.

Here are some of our favorite overnight cruise port stops.

Cruising often gives you the highlights of a port, without the opportunity for in-depth exploration. Luckily, more cruise lines have been adding overnights in major cities and fun destinations so you have more time to see the major sights, go out to a fabulous restaurant and maybe even dance until dawn.

Here are some of our favourite overnight cruise port stops.

Dublin

Dublin

Why We Love It: Lively and friendly, Dublin has so many things to do that you'll need those extra hours. If you've spent the daytime hours touring historical sites or visiting the Guinness brewery, consider a literary pub tour or a ghost walk through the cobblestoned streets for an evening activity.

Don't Miss: Grab a Guinness (or Irish whiskey, depending on your drinking habits) at a pub that hosts traditional music, or seisiun. These gatherings, where local musicians show up to play instruments, such as the fiddle, the mandolin, the tin whistle or bodhran drum, take place in pubs throughout the Temple Bar district of the city. You may have to share a table, but few people are as outgoing as the Irish; be prepared to sing along. (Read more tips on what to do on an overnight stay in Dublin.)

St. Petersburg

St. Petersburg

Why We Love It: The bastion of the Romanovs has so many museums, churches and palaces, many cruise ships on Baltic itineraries spend three days there. The extra time allows you to get out to Pushkin, home to Catherine Palace (Catherine the Great's summer digs); take in Peterhof, where Peter the Great lived; as well as see the sights in the city proper.

Don't Miss: Even if you're not a classical music buff, St. Petersburg is the perfect place to take in an opera or ballet performance. Historic theatres, such as the Mariinsky, the Mikhailovsky and the Alexandrinsky, have spectacular settings and are where many famous ballets, such as "The Nutcracker," debuted. Tour operators can often help you with tickets.

Ho Chi Minh City

Ho Chi Minh City

Why We Love It: While it serves as an embarkation port for Mekong River cruises, the city formerly known as Saigon is an overnight stop for cruises that travel between Hong Kong and Singapore. Some cruisers use the extra time to take a quick trip to Cambodia's Angkor Wat (and meet up with the ship in a different port), but there's plenty to do in two days if you decide to stay in Vietnam. Use one day to explore the city and the other -- if you're up for it -- to take a chilling, yet educational tour of the Cu Chi Tunnels used during the Vietnam War.

Don't Miss: Feeling adventurous? A street food walking tour of Ho Chi Minh City allows you to sample some of the city's delicious cuisine at vetted stalls and restaurants. Up the ante by taking a night Vespa or scooter tour, where you're plunged into the controlled chaos that defines Saigon's streets.

Buenos Aires

Buenos Aires

Why We Love It: Cruise ships usually allow several days for Buenos Aires. Between its cultural touchstones -- don't miss the cemetery where Evita lies -- and the art galleries and shopping of the Palermo district (if you've been looking for a new leather handbag, this is your city), you'll find plenty of ways to pass the time.

Don't Miss: The sultry tango is the language of Argentinian nightlife. You can shell out for a dinner and a show, or if you're looking to participate, go to a milonga (dance hall) where you can usually find a lesson before the floors open.

Havana

Havana

Why We Love It: Cuba has become a popular cruise destination -- and most sailings from Florida ports have an overnight in Havana. Tours during the day take in historical sites or the vestiges of Hemingway, with stops for cigars, rum and art along the way.

Don't Miss: Many cruise passengers go directly to the Tropicana in the evening, and it's definitely a classic show, of the sequins and feathered headdresses variety. If you're more of a Cuban music fan, look for the Buena Vista Social Club show at Hotel Nacional.

Richards Bay

Richards Bay

Why We Love It: This South African port offers overnights so cruisers can get far away from the hustle and bustle of the ship by taking a mini-safari. In excursions to parks, such as Hluhluwe-Imfolozi, South Africa's oldest game reserve, you might be lucky enough to see the "big five" -- lion, leopard, rhino, elephant and Cape buffalo.

Don't Miss: Your chances of animal spotting go way up if you're near water sources at sunrise and sunset. So, if you're able to splurge, an overnight or two at a tented safari camp might be the best bucket-list money you've ever spent.

Lima

Lima

Why We Love It: Many cruise lines offer a variety of choices in Lima so you can make the most out of your Peru visit; options might include an overnight at Machu Picchu or a trip to the Nazca Lines. Lima itself has several interesting museums -- the Museo Larco has an extensive and amusing collection of erotic pottery.

Don't Miss: If you decide not to head out of town, indulge in some of Lima's world-famous cuisine (ceviche, washed down with a pisco sour, is a no brainer) in the upscale Miraflores District. Alternately, take a tour of the city's "Magic Water Circuit," a series of 13 illuminated fountains set to lights and music.

Ibiza

Ibiza

Why We Love It: Beaches, beaches, beaches -- followed by drinks, drinks, drinks! Ibiza has been a destination for party people for decades. While the Spanish island has historical sites and jaw-dropping natural scenery, we say that you should enjoy Ibiza for what it does best, particularly if people watching is your buzz of choice.

Don't Miss: Whether you like hip lounges or boat parties or huge cavernous places with techno music, Ibiza has it all. Wherever you decide to go out, definitely make sure you're around for the island's justifiably famous sunset.

New Orleans

New Orleans

Why We Love It: We definitely know what it means to miss lazy hazy days in New Orleans; the city is a nonstop cocktail party with Instagram-worthy architecture as your backdrop. And the food! Between the powdered-sugar beignets and savory dishes like gumbo, jambalaya and po'boys, there's no reason to go back to the ship to eat.

Don't Miss: The booze and boobs of Bourbon Street are just a tourist trap. True music lovers know to head to the clubs on Frenchman Street, south of the French Quarter, in the Marigny neighborhood. (We love the Spotted Cat.)

Aruba

Aruba

Why We Love It:  Aruba is an island that truly has something for everyone. Water sports lovers will dig the beaches, sailing and scuba excursions, while adrenaline junkies will want to explore the desert island's rocky north end in a jeep or ATV.

Don't Miss: Indulge in fresh seafood during a sunset catamaran sail. Or, if you're the "Go! Go! Go!" type, hit the casinos on Eagle Beach, just a short cab ride from the cruise port. This is one port where you can party all night, as the gaming halls are usually open 24/7.

Bora Bora

Bora Bora

Why We Love It: Why wouldn't you love it? Sun, sand and some of the world's most beautiful scenery. You have to be made of stone not to be at least a little moved by French Polynesian surroundings like these.

Don't Miss: You really have no choice in Bora Bora -- if you have a romantic bone in your body, you must stay a night in an over-the-water villa, preferably thatched, with butler service, Champagne and a plunge pool. Preferably for an anniversary or milestone birthday -- or just because when else are you going to be on holiday in the South Pacific?

Updated April 07, 2020

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