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

Cruise port: While cruising shows us some of the most fascinating and picturesque locations on earth, not all ports of call are made equally. Some cruise terminals are inaccessible by foot because they are situated outside of towns or in commercial or industrial zones, necessitating expensive shore excursions or privately scheduled tours.

Thankfully, those who want to do some solo exploring may simply (and safely) stroll to several other Cruise port that are situated in the center of the city.

Nassau, Bahamas

Nassau, Bahamas
(Credit: Go port)

Nearly all itineraries for the Eastern Caribbean and short weekend cruises include Nassau, which is only a short distance (about 50 miles) from Florida and offers sunny beaches and tropical weather.

Shops cover the streets directly in front of the Cruise port, and it’s only a short distance to Nassau’s renowned straw market. The Heritage Museum of the Bahamas, the National Art Gallery of the Bahamas, Parliament Square with its pink and white buildings, and The Queen’s Staircase—the 66 limestone stairs honoring Queen Victoria—are about ten to fifteen minutes walk away. Climb them to reach Fort Fincastle, which offers breathtaking, sweeping vistas.

From your cruise, you may even stroll to a beach—Junkanoo Beach is about a mile away. If you’re exhausted, it’s simple to head back onto your ship or stop by one of the many bars and restaurants for a quick bite to eat and refreshment.

Recently, Nassau has also undertaken modifications that boost its walkability. In 2023, a brand-new cruise port complex with stores, cafes, restaurants, and a Junkanoo museum that honors the yearly Bahamian celebration opened.

Vancouver, British Columbia

Vancouver, British Columbia
(Credit: Lonely Planet)

One of the most picturesque ports in the world, the Canadian entry point to Alaska cruises is ideal for sightseeing on foot.

The FlyOver Canada motion attraction is located inside the Canada Place cruise port in Vancouver, which is centrally located for cruise ships. Additionally, the historic Gastown neighborhood with its restaurants, boutiques, and galleries is only a ten-minute stroll away.

The Pacific Centre shopping mall is around the same distance away, and the Vancouver Art Gallery and Robson Street shops are about five more minutes away. Start the shoreline walk near Canada Place and head towards the hip Coal Harbour neighborhood, which has lots of excellent waterfront eateries and boutiques.

Take the waterfront promenade directly outside your ship to connect to Stanley Park’s 6-mile seawall if you’re seeking an energizing workout. You will be astounded by the vistas of Burrard Inlet and the North Shore Mountains, which may be covered in snow even in the summer. On the other side of the harbor, there are activities as well. Enjoy the farmers market and pier-side shops and restaurants at Lonsdale Quay by taking a 15-minute Seabus ride (which is included in Vancouver’s public transportation system).

Juneau, Alaska

Juneau, Alaska
(Credit: National Geographic)

Alaska’s Quantum of the Seas in Juneau Pictured by Aaron SaundersAlaska’s Quantum of the Seas in Juneau Pictured by Aaron Saunders. While we’re talking about Alaska cruises, walking is great in Juneau and the next two Alaskan ports. In the center of town, ships dock, and shops offering gold and diamonds, fleece, souvenirs, and fresh seafood, as well as Alaskan specialty beer, line the wharf.

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A stroll down Juneau’s waterfront is enjoyable, and you should visit the Red Dog Saloon, which has a sawdust floor and displays of maritime artifacts. However, it takes a while to take in the ambiance.

Another popular sight in Juneau is the Mount Roberts Tramway, which provides breathtaking views of the harbor and the docked ships. Hiking to the top of the tramway is an option for experienced hikers looking to burn off cruise calories, but it’s not easy and there’s a chance the track will still be covered in snow during the early hiking season. Taking the tram up is the simplest choice; the tram entry is either right in front of you as you disembark or a short walk away, depending on where your ship is parked.

Skagway, Alaska

Skagway, Alaska
(Credit: KHNS)

Skagway, which is at the north end of the Lynn Canal, is a fairly accessible port due to its small size and linear grid layout of the streets. You can have a good overview of the terrain from your ship, which will be the highest building in the settlement.

You may reach Broadway Avenue after a short stroll past a few historic locomotive exhibits and gold rush statues. Skagway is included in the Klondike Gold Rush National Historic Park. Its streets are lined with more than twenty colorful and historic buildings that have been restored to retain the ambiance of the 1897–1898 Gold Rush.

The most famous is the Red Onion Saloon, which opened in 1897 and houses the museum dedicated to brothels. In addition, Skagway features numerous gift shops, eateries, coffee shops, and brewpubs. If you’re feeling adventurous, several hiking trails begin on each side of the town; the tourist center has a map of the routes.

Before taking a stroll back to your ship, it’s always a good idea to take a ride up the historic White Pass & Yukon Route railroad.

Ketchikan, Alaska

Ketchikan, Alaska
(Credit: Fishing Booker)

Alaska’s Ketchikan, Pictured by Aaron SaundersAlaska’s Ketchikan, Pictured by Aaron Saunders
Ketchikan, the world’s salmon capital, is the third port of call on nearly all Alaskan cruises. Ships dock along Front Street, and you may explore stores, eateries, and photo opportunities by strolling along the wooden boardwalk or by crossing the street.

Nearby are the omnipresent fresh seafood restaurants, souvenir shops, and bars, as well as the Great Alaskan Lumberjack Show, which promises excellent family entertainment.

You can visit Dolly’s House Museum to get a peek of the old-fashioned brothel lifestyle. Inside the charming buildings that line the boardwalk, peruse a selection of gift shops. A short walking track through the woods leads past a salmon ladder where, when the fish are in season, you can watch them jump upstream.

Papeete, Tahiti

Papeete, Tahiti
(Credit: Accor)

Papeete, the capital of Tahiti, is a picturesque stopover for cruise ships traveling the South Pacific. It serves as the home port for trips to French Polynesia.

We adore that the port is in the heart of the city, making it simple to stroll to eateries and retail establishments. A concrete path stretches down the waterfront from the cruise ship port, past a naturally occurring aquarium teeming with vibrant fish. You can travel as far as you desire and then turn around, but we suggest spending about 20 minutes walking to the Robert Wan Pearl Museum.

This intriguing museum, named for the man who started the Polynesian pearl industry, is worth a visit. It narrates the history of the pearl through exquisitely organized displays. When you’re back in town, be sure to check out the 19th-century Notre Dame Cathedral and the bustling Papeete Market, which has amazing floral displays. You can look through a variety of galleries, eateries, and stores to purchase souvenirs from Tahiti, including pareos, fresh vanilla, and, of course, pearls!

Les Roulottes is located in Vaiete Square, next to the cruise dock, and is worth checking out if your ship stays late or all night. These food trucks arrive in the square early every evening and dish you delectable meals at affordable prices. You’re in for a culinary adventure with a plethora of options, ranging from regional cuisine to fried noodles, seafood, curries, steaks, pizza, desserts, and more. An unforgettable Tahitian adventure awaits you!

San Francisco, California

San Francisco, California
(Credit: AARP)

Cruise ships visiting San Francisco dock at Pier 27 on the Embarcadero, the waterfront promenade. Fisherman’s Wharf is less than a fifteen-minute walk from the ship.

With two levels of shopping, eateries, bars, and sights, including the resident sea lions who lounge on the wooden piers, Pier 39 is the hub of activity. There are also many family-friendly activities, such as a science center, an aquarium, and retired naval ships.

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If you can get the stamina to walk half an hour to the opposite end of Fisherman’s Wharf, you will find Ghiradelli Square, the home of the city’s renowned chocolate, and a beach. You could easily spend your whole trip to San Francisco in the Fisherman’s Wharf neighborhood because there is so much to see and do there.

Quebec City, Quebec

Quebec City, Quebec
(Credit: Travel + Leisure)

UNESCO has named the entire Old Quebec region a World Heritage Site.

You can quickly find yourself strolling along cobblestone streets surrounded by stone buildings and quaint squares if you exit your ship, cross the street, and go in the direction of the majestic Fairmont Château Frontenac Hotel. There are enough stores and restaurants in this area to keep you busy for a few hours. Travel up the stairs or take the funicular to Dufferin Terrace, a spacious wooden walkway with a view of the St. Lawrence River.

The Château provides a striking background for your pictures, and it’s worthwhile to visit and take a look around. Stairs leading up to the historic Citadel of Quebec, a British stronghold constructed following the War of 1812, are located at the southern end of the Terrace. There is a museum on the nearby Plains of Abraham that recreates the events of the well-known 1759 battle.

The Museum of Civilization and Notre-Dame Basilica are two more sites worth seeing, although you might just prefer to take a stroll around the historic Cruise port area.

Halifax, Nova Scotia

Halifax, Nova Scotia
(Credit: National Geographic)

The largest city in Canada’s Maritimes Region, Halifax, is another accessible port on a Canada/New England cruise itinerary.

The bustling Halifax Seaport features a contemporary cruise terminal with tourist shops, cafés, and the Museum of Immigration, which highlights 400 years of Canadian immigration history. There are several stores, brew pubs, and a farmer’s market (open on weekends) right outside. The cruise port and the Halifax waterfront, which is lined with eateries, retail establishments, parks, and stands selling ice cream and other sweets, are connected by a lovely waterfront promenade. Visit the HMS Sackville naval warship at the Maritime Museum of the Atlantic.

The Art Gallery of Nova Scotia is located nearby, and the Halifax Citadel National Historic Site, a star-shaped stronghold constructed in 1869, is visible as you head upward away from the coast. There is a history of the fort exhibit as well as other exhibitions and an Army Museum within. You can return to your ship in around 20 minutes by foot from there.

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Willemstad, Curacao

Willemstad, Curacao
(Credit: Curacao)

Curacao, a stunning Caribbean island, is the Dutch “C” of the “ABC” islands (the other two being Aruba and Bonaire). The island, which lies off the coast of Venezuela and below the storm belt, is a popular cruise destination. Even the farthest cruise ship is little over a fifteen-minute walk from the coast to the center of Willemstad. Cruise ships land at two separate locations.

An attraction in and of itself is the Queen Emma floating bridge that crosses the bay. As soon as you enter the Punda side, vibrant Dutch colonial architecture will envelop you. The majority of them are eateries and stores, but you can also find the Fort Amsterdam and Fort Church Museums here, which both chronicle the history of Curacao. It’s also worthwhile to see the Floating Market. The market stalls along the waterfront are brimming with fresh fruit, fish, and other things, even though none of them float.

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