When thinking of cruising, most people imagine exotic ports, coastal cities and sun-glazed islands. Once you dock, you’d be able to hop off of the ship for the day, and then head back on to the open ocean until the next stop.
These days though, it can be less about the port, and more about the locations you can access via the port. There are many destinations you didn’t know you could cruise to available on our world cruise itineraries, and in this article we are going to reveal some of these lesser-known cruising gems.
Only one hour north of Yokohama is the culturally eccentric Tokyo. Tokyo has been a destination at the of top travellers’ bucket lists for years, and this densely populated city has often been overlooked when it comes to cruising. The constantly evolving city throws you into Japanese culture, and the overwhelming energy of Tokyo and its welcoming residents can capture anyone’s excitement.
We spoke to Maria from Nerd Nomads who told us why Tokyo should be on every traveller’s bucket list: “Tokyo has it all! It has all sorts of excellent and corky museums, grand temples, atmospheric shrines and lovely zen gardens. It is a city filled with Japanese history, but also modern, futuristic neo sci-fi streetscapes that make you feel like you’re a part of a science-fiction movie.”
Maria also suggested what to do in Tokyo if you are there for a day: “I'd start my day by exploring Tokyo`s grandest shrine, the Meiji-Jingu Shrine in the middle of the beautiful Yoyogi Park. Afterward, I'd kick off my shoes and lay down on the grass and watch people playing frisbee or putting on a dance show.”
“Next up is Shinjuku for some world-class shopping, and a visit to the Tokyo Metropolitan Government building’s Observation deck. The entrance is free, and the views from the 45th floors are breath-taking! On a bright day, you can even see Mount Fuji from here.”
“I would finish off my perfect Tokyo day with some food at one of the many small restaurants along Omoide Yokochō and have a drink or two at a bar in Shinjuku’s old Golden Gai neighbourhood.”
The Shibuya Crossing is one of the most iconic attractions in Tokyo. Rumoured to be the busiest crossing in the world, this icon of Japan is an experience that can be found nowhere else. Joins the swathes of locals and tourists dodging each other with ease as they join the complex dance that is journeying the Shibuya Crossing.
From a visit to Tsukiji Market to experience the largest fish market in Japan, to the street food vendors, every inch of Tokyo is passionate about food. The city has more Michelin stars than any other city in the world, which makes exceptional food easy to find and often reasonably priced. If you are looking for the eccentric there are many themed restaurants and cafes in Tokyo, from the Robot Restaurant to the Hedgehog Café, you can be sure of an experience as well as a good meal.
Akihabara is Tokyo’s electronic district. This area, which was formally a shrine, is famous for its electronic shops and Japan’s fan culture. The ever-changing character of Akihabara is home to stores specialising in things like anime, manga, video games, figurines, card games and other collectables. This is the perfect spot for anyone looking to explore Japans rich technology and pop culture.
If you are interested in Japans flora, fauna and idyllic cherry blossoms you should head to Koishikawa Korakuen. This is one of Tokyo’s oldest and most famous gardens and can make you feel like you aren’t in the middle of one of the world’s most hectic cities. Head to Tokyo in the spring for the ideal time to see the beautiful cherry blossoms in real life.
We spoke to Boutique Japan who told us how they would spend their perfect day in Tokyo: “Start early and head to Tsukiji Market, to stroll— and eat— my way around the market. A lot of the sushi shops are quite touristy nowadays, but there are so many great (non-touristy) vendors selling all sorts of delicious Japanese dishes.
Next, walk to Ginza to wander around the beautiful, colourful aisles of a depachika. Depachika are the culinary wonderlands in the basements of Japan's best department stores where you can find everything from incredible pastries, to gorgeous seasonal bento boxes, along with Japanese craft beer and sake.
Next I would head to the charming Daikanyama neighborhood for a stroll and coffee at the ultra-modern Daikanyama T-Site. Daikanyama is full of attractive backstreets and interesting shops, and a short walk from the hip and laid-back Naka-Meguro neighborhood, another great place for an enjoyable walk.
Next up I'd walk through the zany, neon-filled Shibuya district, home to one of Tokyo's most infamous spectacles, the Shibuya "scramble" crossing. After getting my fill of neon and crowds, I'd walk to neighboring Harajuku— world famous for its fashion— and disconnect at the peaceful Meiji Jingu Shrine, and adjacent Yoyogi Park.
After a walk along the nearby Omotesando boulevard (Tokyo's Champs-Elysees), I'd make a beeline for the lively Ebisu district, home to hundreds of cozy restaurants, izakayas, and cocktail bars.”
Beijing is the fusion of old and new. With Chinese culture and tradition spilling on every street, the cultural heart of China is filled with 6 UNESCO World Heritage Sites. Just under two hours from the port of Tianjin, your time in Beijing won’t feel short-lived or rushed.
The obvious tourist attraction when visiting China the Great Wall. You will be able to do this on your day trip to Beijing if you desire but there are many other things the city has to offer.
Head to the picture-perfect Forbidden City to see an intricate complex of 980 buildings. The Forbidden City was home to the emperor in 1420 to 1912 and now you are able to walk around this royal palace yourself.
Sport lovers can also visit the Beijing Olympic Park. Here you can meet the Olympic mascots and explore a great place of sporting history. The city is also home to Tiananmen Square, the Temple of Heaven and the best Peking Duck in the world.
Mumbai is literally the gateway to India, and as the ninth biggest city in the world, it is full of experiences to enlighten the senses. As you enter Mumbai you are greeted with the Gateway of India, a large archway built to commemorate the visit of King George V. This is just the first glimpse of Mumbai’s fascinating architecture and culture.
As one of the wealthiest regions in Asia, Mumbai is home to extravagant architecture, culture and food. Mumbai is regarded as the birthplace of Bollywood, and the home of Indian cinema. To experience this culture head to Bandra, the ‘Queen of the Suburbs’. Bandra houses some of the most popular Bollywood stars and is painted with street art, lined with cafes and restaurants and home to gothic architecture.
Previously known as Bombay, the history in the city is fierce and lives on every street. A great way to experience the Indian culture is through its food. There are diverse options from fine dining to street food, but the distinct taste, overpowering smells and diverse flavours will give you a real taste of India.
Luxor is one of the world’s greatest outdoor museums. With large stone monuments towering over visitors, you can’t help but feel like a world-class adventurer when amongst these shrines. The temples and sheer volume of history here can overwhelm visitors, but the beauty of this ancient city makes it a must-see cruise destination.
Karnak is Luxor’s most extraordinary site. This complex sandstone temple is a maze of sanctuaries, kiosks, carvings and obelisks. The site covers over 2km and features the Temple of Amun-Ra, one of the world’s oldest and largest religious complexes. The large sand pylons and carvings surround visitors, and if nothing else Karnak is a feat of human engineering, still standing strong 1,500 years after its predicated erection.
The Luxor Temple on the East bank of the Nile has been a place of worship up until the present day. This vast structure is adorned with Egyptian hieroglyphs and carvings. Unlike most of the temples in Egypt, Luxor Temple was not built for a god, or gods, it was built as a dedication to the rejuvenation of kingship. It is thought it be where many kings were crowned.
Luxor is also home to Valley of the Kings. This intricate structure has been the site of royal burials since around 2100BC, and it is home to 63 royal tombs. Although the tombs have suffered from treasure hunters, floods and mass tourism, the Department of Antiquities has taken some modern precautions to ensure Valley of the Kings can stay open to the public. Note, you cannot bring a camera, photography is forbidden in all of the tombs.
Petra is a frequent member of top travel lists, with many people boasting it as a place everyone should see before they die. As the main tourist site in Jordan it draws in a lot of curious visitors and is a truly unique experience. The lost city is famed for the Siq gorge, overflowing with carved monuments and temples that will reward any traveller.
The Treasury, or Al-Khazneh as it is locally known, is where most travellers fall in love with Petra. The carved façade protruding from the almost pink sandstone is the main reason people will make the pilgrimage to Petra. The Treasury first came into the mass public eye after being shown in Indiana Jones, but now tourists will flock there to experience the overwhelming architecture and the indescribable feeling of emotion when you walk along the Siq gorge and see Al-Khazneh for the first time.
Reminiscent of a Roman Colosseum, the theatre is another sandstone highlight. The structure is chiselled through tombs and caves and boasts rows of carved seating. Another Hellenistic piece of architecture, this site is another example of the magnificent carving and crafted facades you can see in Petra.
Although traditionally not thought of as cruise destinations, you can reach all of these destinations on our world cruises and journey to more corners of the globe than you ever imagined.