16 Worst Cruise Ports for Visitors: Uninspiring Destination

Worst Cruise Ports: Burnout is inevitable for even the most enthusiastic sailors, at least when it comes to specific cruise locations. After ascending Dunn’s River Falls, is it truly necessary to return to Ocho Rios? Yes, Monaco has the glitzy allure of the Grimaldi Royal Family, but one can only stare at the Grand Casino for so long before getting bored.

This is our unofficial ranking of the cruise ports that are not worth returning to. To avoid coming out as cynical, bear in mind that each cruiser has its preferences and dislikes, and we base our choice on the range of activities available. For example, even though Cozumel and Cabo San Lucas are often listed as the worst cruise ports and may appear like “been there, done that” destinations, cruise lines, and tour operators there consistently provide fresh itineraries and activities.

Continue reading for our ranking of the worst cruise ports for return visitors, along with suggestions for improving your future visit.

The World’s Worst Cruise Ports

Best Time to Board a Cruise Ship, When Do Cruise Ships Leave, Cruise Ship Departure and Boarding Times, Cruise Ship Boarding time
(Credit: Nassau Cruise Port)

Dominican Republic, Samana

Samana, a charming hamlet in the Dominican Republic, maybe the destination of your voyage if you find yourself sailing the Caribbean. This location frequently appears on cruise lines’ itineraries, including Costa Cruises, Holland America Line, and MSC Cruises’ Explora Journeys.

Examining reviews from past visitors exposes several issues with this location. Many guests have expressed discomfort over safety, especially when they are with children. Some families have decided to cut short their shore excursion and head back to their cruise ship due to incidents where the behavior of local children has been deemed impolite.

Samana may not live up to the expectations of people looking for a center of activity. Some claim that there aren’t many worthwhile tourist attractions nearby, and the area’s undeveloped infrastructure and crumbling roads only serve to reinforce the perception of neglect. One traveler’s brief description of the location as a “crappy place” captures the overall discontent.

In spite of these worries, there is a bright spot for art lovers: among the chaos, they can find distinctive local artwork. However, the aggressive sales tactics and upsetting images of kids begging can overwhelm the shopping experience and give away details about the town’s wider financial difficulties.

The results have been mixed for those daring enough to go on guided tours. Many people have become disillusioned with even well-known nature hikes that culminate in waterfalls because of the less-than-ideal trekking circumstances and beauty that fell short of their expectations.

Bahamas’ Nassau

Nassau, Bahamas
(Credit: Go port)

You may find yourself landing at the vibrant port of Nassau, the hub of the Bahamas, as you set sail for its warm waters. It is frequently visited during trips to the Bahamas and the Eastern Caribbean. Furthermore, Nassau is redefining the shore excursion market, even though some seasoned sailors may decide to stay aboard due to its familiarity.

Now, if you’d rather sample the local fare, there are delicious culinary tours available. Explore the lively local markets and restaurants to try real Bahamian food.

You may experience the island in a whole new light with this innovative approach to sightseeing—away from the glitz of Atlantis and other large resorts.

Discover the charms of the National Art Gallery of the Bahamas, just a short distance from where your ship docks. Nestled in an ancient home, this cultural jewel offers a peaceful haven brimming with creative treasures.

Once you’ve had your fill of visual treats, the surrounding region encourages you to visit quaint boutiques that feature artisan products, opulent chocolates, and the essence of the islands—finely rolled cigars and rich, scented rum.

The 10 best Cruise Ports to visit: Check out the list

Monaco’s Monte Carlo

Monaco's Monte Carlo
(Credit: Forbes)

Situated within the principality of Monaco, Monte Carlo exudes a certain glitz and grandeur, primarily due to Princess Grace’s influence. But there are difficulties to the grandeur. Keep in mind that there is a dress code in effect as you walk past the Grand Casino.

Cafes may be glamorous, but they come with a high price tag that makes you feel more like an observer of their opulent way of life. But occasionally, the city comes to life in a more approachable way. Imagine yourself there as the thrilling Formula One Grand Prix passes by, with race cars roaring past and an incredible atmosphere.

Why not experience a controlled rush of excitement by taking a thrilling drive down the French Riviera in a Ferrari F430 F1 Spider? These kinds of excursions give visitors a taste of life in the fast lane and might be an interesting approach to discover Monte Carlo’s distinct personality.

Canada’s Prince Rupert

Canada's Prince Rupert
(Credit: The northern view)

Among the spectacular Alaskan cruise itineraries, Prince Rupert, British Columbia, is frequently mentioned as a frequent but unimpressive port of call. Travelers generally characterize this small town—which is commonly included on the itineraries of numerous cruise ships—as “simple” and “uninspiring.”

The two most well-known businesses in Prince Rupert’s downtown have a straightforward layout and a small selection of stores.

Some have called the town “skidrowish,” citing its unadorned appearance that lacks the charm and frills of more well-known cruise stops.

Prince Rupert has a more sedate atmosphere when it comes to activities and shopping, particularly in the nights when a lot of the stores close early. For people used to the vibrant atmosphere of busy cruise ports, this may be a sharp contrast.

The Prince Rupert City Highlights and Museum trip is the main local excursion offered. This involves a beautiful drive around the town and a quick visit to the museum, which usually ends earlier than expected.

Prince Rupert has a purpose in cruise itineraries, despite its unappealing appearance. Prince Rupert becomes a mandatory stopover because of U.S. maritime legislation such as the Passenger Vessel Services Act and the Jones Act, which mandate that ships dock at a foreign terminal when sailing between U.S. ports.

It also provides a useful location for cruise ships to replenish supplies, rotate crew members, and refuel.

Understanding Prince Rupert’s role in your cruise itinerary can help you gain a deeper understanding of the complexities of maritime travel. This stopover serves as a reminder of the practical requirements that mold your travel via the breathtaking Alaskan routes, even though it might not be the highlight of your cruise.

Colombia’s Santa Marta

A port of call for many cruise lines, including Windstar Cruises, Silversea, Seabourn, and Explora Journeys, Santa Marta serves as the entry point to the verdant Tayrona National Natural Park. The park provides a verdant, exciting haven, but Santa Marta’s urban charm might not live up to the hype.

Santa Marta is primarily a commercial center, and its skyline is dominated by industrial features, such as coal seams, which stands in stark contrast to the dreamy vision of the Caribbean that many tourists have in mind.

There aren’t many opportunities for unhurried exploring in the utilitarian port region. Tourists frequently complain about the city’s lack of cleanliness and label its appearance as “unappealing.”

Although their zeal can occasionally be excessive, the lively mood is enhanced by the presence of eager street merchants. Safety is a major worry, and many tourists suggest using caution when packing personal items.

Tours that are scheduled are highly suggested for individuals who want to take in the beauty of the area without having to deal with the traffic of the city.

These excursions give guests the chance to escape the less desirable parts of the port and experience the beauty and peace of the surrounding countryside, particularly in Tayrona National Natural Park.

Jamaica’s Ocho Rios

Jamaica
(Credit: Travel weekly)

Taking a trip to Ocho Rios? You’ll probably climb the famous Dunn’s River Falls or look for excitement at the adventure haven at Mystic Mountain on your first excursion.

The choices may not seem as obvious to those who are returning, particularly if they don’t enjoy organized trips or strenuous activities.

Looking for a more relaxed activity? Discover Bob Marley’s Mausoleum at Nine Mile, nestled in the tranquil Saint Ann Parish, while following the beat of reggae music.

There is transportation available directly from your cruise terminal, creating the ideal backdrop for a musical getaway that pays tribute to the great musician of Jamaica.

Brazil’s Santos

You could be enticed to explore Sao Paulo, a bustling metropolis that is appealing from close, when your cruise anchors in Santos. An active hub is suggested by the fact that up to a hundred cruise ships pass by Santos each year. Travelers advise, however, using the port merely as a gateway to Sao Paulo’s exciting areas.

From the ship, getting to Santos City can be like navigating a maze. If you have an industrial heart, you’ll probably take a shuttle to the terminal and then get a bus that takes you through the hustle and bustle of the city. You’ll need patience because traffic will usually take up a significant portion of the trip.

When they first arrive in Santos, some tourists express worries about their safety and the town’s general appeal, implying that it might not meet everyone’s definition of lovely.

The cruise liner’s suggested stopover, a nearby mall, may not be particularly interesting, but it also may not accurately capture the rich diversity of Brazilian culture.

Would taking a guided tour outside of São Paulo be a fun way to break up your stay? Some experiences, though, don’t quite seem to hit the target, taking travelers through less-than-polished districts and failing to fully capture the positive aspects of the region.

It’s important to examine your selections and compare the expense to experiences that genuinely capture the essence of Brazil.

Dominican Republic, Santo Domingo

Dominican Republic, Santo Domingo
(Credit: MarineTraffic)

Santo Domingo offers a variety of experiences and is a common destination on Eastern Caribbean cruises operated by Aida, Marella, and Seabourn. With more than a million people living there, the capital city of the Dominican Republic is a busy place with some safety issues.

It’s common advice for tourists to travel in groups for increased security and to be on the lookout for theft. Although first comforting, the obvious security officers surrounding the port serve to highlight more than to lessen the need for care.

Another bone of contention in Santo Domingo is cleanliness—or the lack of it. With rubbish strewn in the streets and in the sea, the port area—which is frequently criticized for its upkeep—can provide a bad first impression and raise health and environmental issues.

There aren’t many amenities or things to do in the local region of the port, so guests may be left wanting more interesting things to do unless they go farther into the city or take guided tours.

These outings themselves, though, are risky. The quality of trip planning varies, with some visitors finding the beaches unimpressive or the transit times to the activities locations unsatisfactorily long.

Notwithstanding these negative aspects, Santo Domingo does have some undiscovered gems, such as “Los Tres Ojos” Park, a breathtaking natural limestone cave that provides a peek of the city’s potential beauty.

While Santo Domingo’s negative features frequently overwhelm its positive parts, these highlights show that tourist experiences can vary widely and can be quite beneficial for those who take risks.

Morocco’s Agadir

Morocco's Agadir
(Credit: Hotels)

The bustling industrial port of Agadir, Morocco, offers a unique set of difficulties for tourists visiting by cruise liner. Reliance on transportation is necessary because the city core is not conveniently located near the port for pedestrians.

It is best to use the shuttle service or take a cab to get around the region, but be ready to haggle over the cost of a full-day rental. It is advised to use safe transit options rather than strolling from the dock for your own safety.

You may explore Moroccan market culture in the local marketplaces, especially the lively souk. But keep in mind that the souk is closed on Mondays, so be prepared for pushy salespeople.

It is vital to exercise caution when handling personal belongings in these busy places.

Agadir may appear unpolished in contrast to Casablanca’s refined charm. Some visitors may find the city’s seeming poverty and occurrences of begging to be off-putting.

Certain parts of Agadir may seem dirty or even unfriendly from an urban aesthetic perspective. It is best to stay in tourist-friendly areas of the city to avoid less enjoyable areas.

Planning ahead for travel and other costs is also essential to guarantee an enjoyable trip free of unpleasant surprises.

Agadir nevertheless provides a singular glimpse into Moroccan life in spite of these shortcomings. Its historic marketplaces and cultural events can offer a deep and genuine window into the way of life there.

Understanding these subtleties will enable you to get the most out of your visit to this unique port city in Morocco.

Brazil’s Salvador de Bahia

Brazil's Salvador de Bahia
(Credit: Celebrity cruises)

A historic Brazilian city that is frequently visited by MSC and Costa Cruises, Salvador De Bahia provides an experience that is distinct from the ordinary vibrancy of Brazil. When arriving here, visitors are frequently met with less-than-ideal first impressions because of the city’s unattractive streets littered with graffiti.

For those who are accustomed to the tidy, attractive vistas sometimes associated with Brazilian settings, this awful sense of neglect may come as a shock.

The historic splendor Salvador De Bahia is renowned for is obscured by buildings in varying degrees of deterioration, some of which have mold and other symptoms of decay, further detracting from the city’s aesthetic appeal.

Safety is a major concern because there is a higher chance of minor crimes like stealing, particularly in busy marketplaces where crowds may get intense.

It is typical to see aggressive solicitation and begging, especially from street performers; this stands in stark contrast to the friendly hospitality that Brazil is known for. If guests are expecting more cordial exchanges, they might be surprised by this aggressive panhandling.

Guided tours in Salvador often reflect these widespread problems by pointing out spots that require poor maintenance.

The city is replete with evidence of socioeconomic suffering, including visible traces of homelessness and decay, which add to the overall gloomy atmosphere of your stay.

Salvador De Bahia is still a city rich in culture and history despite these difficulties. Visitors can still explore the deeper facets of Salvador de Bahia, a historic Brazilian city, by being prepared and mindful of the local legends and character.

Sihanoukville, Cambodia

A common destination for cruise ships such as Seabourn and Oceania Cruises, Sihanoukville frequently leaves tourists feeling let down, offering a sharp contrast to the tranquil beauty typical of Southeast Asia.

The city is changing dramatically, turning from being a sleepy fishing village to a thriving metropolis, mostly as a result of rapid expansion and the opening of new casinos.

The experience in Sihanoukville is further tarnished by environmental difficulties. The once-immaculate local beaches are currently plagued by pollution issues. The sight of plastic garbage and even raw sewage poisoning the rivers often depresses visitors.

The seashore is a far cry from the tidy and peaceful seaside cottages one might expect in this area; it’s littered and smells bad.

The persistent taxi and tuk-tuk drivers who actively seek out visitors can also make exploring Sihanoukville less enjoyable. It is frequently difficult for guests to explore the region quietly and at their own leisure because of this intrusive attention.

To make matters more inconvenient, cruise guests must have a valid visa for Cambodia, even if they decide not to disembark.

This necessity comes at an extra expense that may seem needless, particularly to individuals who choose not to tour the city. Moreover, there are additional costs associated with using the shuttle services from the port that are required to get to the main points of interest.

These costs may appear excessive considering the state of the port and the city at the moment.

Sihanoukville, for all its potential, yet fails to provide the kind of fulfilling and scenic experience that most cruise tourists in Southeast Asia look for.

Cruise Ship Private Destinations: Best Ports offers for Exclusive Experiences

Mexico’s Manzanillo

Mexico's Manzanillo
(Credit: Mexiconow)

Manzanillo, a popular port of call for Norwegian, Princess, and Holland America cruise ships, frequently leaves visitors wanting more compelling sights and activities. Its closeness to the harbor doesn’t do much to improve its allure because there aren’t many activities or entertainment options for solo travelers.

Manzanillo is not at all the charming seaside resort tourists may imagine; rather, its mostly commercial culture, fueled by shipping activity, creates a busy and less conventional vacation scene.

The urban atmosphere may come as a shock to individuals who are used to a peaceful seaside getaway. Some beaches are good for swimming and tanning, but getting there needs a long cab ride—often at exorbitant prices.

For visitors hoping to take advantage of Mexico’s renowned coastal beauty, this lack of easy access to the beach is a major setback.

Visitors to Manzanillo also worry about security. The stern aspect of the port security together with the coldness of some residents can make other destinations’ welcoming experiences seem less genuine.

Moreover, even planned trips frequently fall short of expectations. Long bus rides to unimpressive scenic spots, poor dining options, and tour operators who don’t always deliver an unforgettable experience are commonplace for tourists.

Canada’s Halifax

You can’t help but be enthralled by Halifax’s charming seaside city while you’re here. Its population of less than 300,000 gives it a pleasant small-town feel.

Probably after taking a picturesque trip to Peggy’s Cove, you’ve enjoyed some delectable lobster and taken the ideal picture of the famous lighthouse.

Even while the region has an obvious charm, you can discover that other seaside locations provide a fresh perspective.

Explore the areas outside the city boundaries where Nova Scotia’s wine and craft beer offers flourish if you want to really immerse yourself in the local way of life.

Traveling through the wine-producing Annapolis Valley may introduce you to some fine regional flavors that are difficult to get outside of the province.

Bahrain’s capital, Manama

Gazing onto the Manama skyline, the World Trade Center building’s silhouette creates a remarkable impression against the island nation’s landscape.

Open to maritime explorers, Bahrain is a secret gem located off the coast of Saudi Arabia. However, you may wonder what hidden gems Bahrain has underneath its glitzy façade.

While here, explore the ancient walls of Qal’at al-Bahrain, a magnificent UNESCO World Heritage Site and witness to the Dilmun culture, or take a peep into history at the Bahrain National Museum. You can spend hours being enthralled with these two places alone, but they only represent a small portion of Bahrain’s offerings.

If you are seeking a spiritual connection, be aware that not all sanctuaries will accept you while you are there.

In the same way, you might not hear the local racetrack’s engines revving during your layover. However, if you are unable to have these experiences, don’t allow it worry you.

Should the winds bring you back to these waters, think about cruising farther afield on another Arabian Gulf trip to take in the tranquil beauty and vibrant culture of Oman.

Ketchikan

Alaska cruise port
(Credit: Cruise Hive)

You have to sift through the numerous souvenir and Diamonds International stores that line the waterfront in order to discover the true essence of this Alaskan port. Things pick up as you reach Creek Street, but honestly, there’s not much in the city boundaries to keep you around outside of shopping and the weird art galleries.

Something Different: You have to leave town if you want to fully experience Ketchikan. Don’t let the jewelry stores depress you; there are plenty of activities nearby, such as off-roading, sea kayaking, canoeing, and floatplane trips to Misty Fjords.

Flam

Known for its world-class Flam Railway, which is regularly rated as one of the most picturesque train journeys worldwide, Flam is a stop on Norwegian Fjords cruises. We strongly advise getting in shape and riding a bike back down. But after you’ve done that, there are no more opportunities in town.

Something Different: A factory located approximately 8 kilometers (5 miles) distant continues to produce Aurland shoes, an extraordinarily well-made pair of leather-soled shoes that served as the model for penny loafers. You can go there and purchase one to bring home.

Leave a Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Scroll to Top