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Travel advice

Our 10 best cruise destinations

So you’d love to try a cruise – but where to? Here’s a selection of great ports of call for first-timers… and experienced cruisers too!

Spirit of Discovery sailing on the open ocean

It’s the big attraction of cruising. You unpack just once, then set off for an adventure, stopping at several different cruise ports. It’s like the destinations come to you!

On Saga’s boutique ships, Spirit of Adventure and Spirit of Discovery, every guest has a private cabin balcony as standard. It means you’ll get to watch as you sail in, ready for a fun day exploring ashore.

As a general rule, the ships are in port for about ten hours, ranging from 8am until 6pm. Or they make a short morning call or dock at midday and stay late into the evening. Sometimes, the ship will travel at night so you wake up to find yourself in a completely different country in the morning.

But where would you like to spend your time? Here’s our rundown of Saga’s best cruise destinations.

Barbados cruise port

A beach in Barbados with a palm tree backlit by the setting sun

Swaying palms… powder soft beaches… crystal blue seas… The Caribbean is a dream destination, packed with beautiful cruise ports and harbours. And Barbados is a key stop off on Saga’s Caribbean cruises. The island’s capital, Bridgetown, is the perfect spot to pick up authentic rum, while other excursions and experiences delve into the Bajan culture and British colonial history.

Bergen cruise port

Houses along the fjord in Hardangerfjord, Norway

This pretty town is the gateway to the famed fjords of Norway. Don’t miss the views from Mount Fløyen (take the funicular up and walk down if you’re feeling energetic). A trip to majestic Hardangerfjord and a tour of composer Edvard Grieg’s home, followed by a piano recital, are among the many excursions.

Canary Islands cruise ports

Stars illuminated the night sky over Mount Teide on the island of Tenerife, Canary Islands

Great for island hopping! The largest of the Canary Islands, Tenerife has the idyllic combination of sun, sand and sea. There are hiking trails – and even night-time stargazing – through the lunar landscape of Mount Teide National Park for those in exploration mode. The Jardín Botánico is home to exotic plants and trees from the tropics for keen gardeners.

Ferrol cruise port

The cathedral in Santiago de Compostela, Spain

Spain is packed with cruise ports, a nod to the country’s long seafaring history. But even if you’ve never heard of El Ferrol, you’re sure to heard of nearby Santiago de Compostela. Join an unforgettable excursion to this revered pilgrimage city. You’ll go by coach but each year thousands of pilgrims walk hundreds of miles along the Camino de Santiago to visit the grave of the apostle St James, inside the city’s beautiful cathedral.

Grenada cruise port

A view toward St George's from the sea, on the island of Grenada

Grenada is another Caribbean highlight, and it’s not called the Spice Island for nothing. You can almost smell the nutmeg and cinnamon in the air on an island tour. That’s the best way to see the sights and learn about the spices that grow here. But exploring the capital, St George’s, or spending a day at the sandy beaches, with their warm, clear blue water, are both hard to beat.

Madeira cruise port

The botanical gardens in Funchal, Madeira

It’s hard not to think of fortified wine if visiting Madeira but there is plenty more to see and do before an obligatory tasting. There are trips to the botanical gardens, off-road safaris, walks through the countryside or wacky high-speed toboggan rides down a steep road with two men in straw hats to steer and brake. Pick a cruise over New Year to see the city’s famous firework display.

New England cruise ports

George Washington's statue in Boston Common in the city of Boston, USA

Setting sail for a transatlantic voyage across the pond is another big cruise experience. On our itineraries to the USA and Canada you’ll follow in the footsteps of the first settlers. Cities such as Boston are big and bold, while laid-back Martha’s Vineyard is an exclusive island that’s a favourite of the Kennedys, Clintons and Obamas.

Reykjavik cruise port

The fountain like Strokkur Geyser in Reykjavik

There’s nowhere quite like Iceland, with its rumbling volcanoes, shooting geysers and chic modern capital of Reykjavik. Best of all? You can also knock the remote Faroe Islands off your ‘must see’ list!

Rome cruise port

The ancient ruins of the Colosseum in Rome, Italy

The Colosseum, Pantheon, Piazza Navona and ancient Roman Forum are glorious still. You can see them all on a walking tour, or combine a coach tour of the city with a visit inside the Sistine Chapel in the Vatican. These are just some of the experiences available from the Italian cruise port of Civitavecchia.

Stockholm cruise port

An aerial view over Gamla Stan in Stockholm, Sweden

Built on 14 islands connected by 57 bridges, the Swedish capital sparkles in the summer sun. The Vasa Museum, housing a 17th-century warship that sank in the harbour on its maiden voyage, is the city’s top attraction. Explore the narrow-cobbled streets of Galma Stan, the oldest quarter, housing the Royal Palace.

Find out more about ocean cruises with Saga.

The opinions expressed are those of the author and are not held by Saga unless specifically stated.

The material is for general information only and does not constitute investment, tax, legal, medical or other form of advice. You should not rely on this information to make (or refrain from making) any decisions. Always obtain independent, professional advice for your own particular situation.