Often novice cruisers never give much thought to the details of ports they will be visiting. Even experienced cruisers are often so involved with the overall planning of a trip they overlook those important port details.
On our next cruise are there any tender ports? Are there ports that don’t allow walking out? Are there facilities on the pier? Is a port wheelchair accessible? Often cruise ships are not that free with information on upcoming ports of call and it would be helpful if you knew ahead of time if there are going to be challenges.
We’ve begun going thru our trip notes to build a section devoted just to port information and highlights. We hope you find it useful.
Also, If you would like to contribute please email us at TheIntentionalTraveler@gmx.com
Every Spring just outside of Amsterdam a garden comes to life with hundreds of flower displays created with millions of tulips. If you are going to be anywhere near Norther Europe be sure and get to the Keukenhof.
Old Quebec City is on a number of fall cruise itineraries. Starting in New York or Boston these cruises visit a number of New England and Canadian Maritime ports, go up the St. Lawrence Seaway, usually with fall leaves in full glory, and spend a day or two in Quebec City. The old city is full of historic sites, art galleries, good restaurants and beautiful scenery.
Where the Ships Dock – There is a modern cruise ship terminal on the riverfront along with a good length of docking space right in front of the Old Quebec neighborhood.
Transportation – Since Old Quebec is not that large an area and cruise ships will usually dock right in town, walking is the usual way to see the sights. The town does have a geography that rises steeply from the river so be prepared for a little climb. The city does have an alternative to the steepest climb though. The Old Quebec Funicular is a funicular railway in Old Quebec. It links the Haute-Ville to the Basse-Ville, climbing at a 45-degree angle, it covers a total distance of 64 meters.
Taxis – There are a number of taxi companies and generally they do not cruise for fares. They usually are available at the cruise ships or you call and they will send a car:
Taxi Coop Québec 418-525-5191
Taxi Coop Sainte-Foy-Sillery 418-653-7777
Taxi Laurier 418-651-2727
Uber – As of this writing you can make use of Uber from the cell phone app.
Rentals Cars – Readily available and a practical way to visit areas farther out from downtown.
Public Transit (local buses) – Réseau de transport de la capitale (RTC) serves Québec City. The Parcours 11 route serves Upper Town and the Old Port area and the ferry terminal.
Ferry – The ferry links Québec City and Lévis and runs 7 days a week, 365 days a year. It sails on the hour and half-hour during the day and every hour at night.
Money – Quebec uses the Canadian Dollar currently worth about 76¢ U.S. Also, do not count being able to use U.S. Dollars but credit cards are welcome.
Notre Dame des Victoires Church – a small Roman Catholic stone church in the Lower Town of Quebec City. Construction was started in 1687 on the site of Champlain’s habitation and was completed in 1723
The Historic Petit Champlain District – a neighbourhood in Quebec City, Canada. It is located in the district of Vieux-Québec–Cap-Blanc–colline Parlementaire in the borough La Cité-Limoilou – located near Place Royale. Its main street is the Rue du Petit-Champlain at the foot of Cap Diamant. It is the oldest commercial district in North America
The Port, Marina and City Market Area
The Musée de la Civilisation. – A modern Museum of Civilization located near the port.
Located on the southeast side of sheltered Akaroa Harbor, is the cute resort township of Akaroa. With increasing cruises around Australia and New Zealand this tiny town is becoming a popular port of call. It is also unique as it was the only French settlement in New Zealand. Geologically originally an island formed by two volcanoes, the peninsula has two ancient craters which form Lyttelton and Akaroa Harbors. The region was named for the botanist Joseph Banks, who sailed with Captain Cook on the Endeavour.
Where You’re Docked – Cruise ships need to anchor out and use tenders to reach the Akaroa dock. The dock is the focus of a number of boat tours and water attractions and is located right in the town with a number of restaurants and shops nearby.
Money – New Zealand uses the NZ$ which currently is worth US$0.70 and you will need to exchange money or use credit cards.
Attractions – Akaroa, is famous for its several beautiful bays and harbors and there are boat tours and sea kayaking. In Flea bay, a couple of miles southeast of town, is a rare penguin colony and Akaroa harbor is home to the worlds rarest and smallest dolphin. A short walk out of town is Meniscus Wines, a vineyard which usually is open when ships are visiting and don’t miss The Giants House, a unique sculpture mosaic garden above town.
You shouldn’t visit Hong Kong without taking an hour or two visiting Nan Lian Gardens. These beautiful gardens cover over eight and a half acres in central Hong Kong.
The best way to reach Nan Lian Gardens is to take the rapid transit (MTR MAP) to Diamond Hill station, leave through Exit C2 and follow the signs to the garden. The station is part of Plaza Hollywood complex, a large mall with exhibit space, a movie theatre and a couple hundred stores.
This park is an incredible classic style Chinese garden with formal planting designs, flowers, waterfalls, Koi ponds and pagodas and completely walled in by high rise buildings. Inside the gardens there is a souvenir shop, a vegetarian food restaurant and a Chinese tea house and admission is free.
Nan Lian Garden is also adjacent to the Chi Lin Nunnery connected by a bridge. The Nunnery is a large Buddhist temple complex founded in 1934 for Buddhist nuns and was rebuilt in the 1990s in traditional Tang Dynasty architecture. The temple halls have statues of the Sakyamuni Buddha, the goddess of mercy Guanyin and other bodhisattvas.
This port is a popular gateway to many Alaska cruises. While it owes much of its popularity in the cruise industry to an old and archaic U.S. law called the Jones Act it deserves to be recognized as a great destination as well. Vancouver is the largest western Canadian city with a large natural harbor and a thriving economy. Famous for a number of nearby wine regions, its great natural beauty and a vibrant city atmosphere.
The issue with the Jones Act prohibits cruise lines from picking up passengers in one U.S. port and allowing them to disembark in another U.S. port. Vancouver, Canada allows the cruise lines to avoid the problem of picking up passengers from a U.S. port.
Where You Dock – The cruise pier in Vancouver is called Canada Place and it is centrally located with a nice cruise terminal. Canada Place is also a convention center and community event venue so take the time to discover what’s going on inside. Just walking out of the terminal finds you in downtown with a tourist office within a couple of blocks of the pier. Only a few blocks walk to the southwest is Gastown (http://gastown.org/), a popular historic district with lots of restaurants and clubs. A few blocks farther south is Vancouver’s Chinatown, which is home to a large Asian population replete with markets and excellent Chinese restaurants.
Taxi – Taxis are common and fares average about $10 for trips within the central city. A taxi trip to the airport should cast about $30.
Rapid Transit – The Canada Line is Vancouver’s rapid transit rail connecting Vancouver International Airport (YVR) to downtown Vancouver in about 30 minutes. Trains leave every few minutes and run from 5 am till after midnight. Fares run about $3.00 per trip.
Bicycles – Vancouver is a very walkable city and you will discover that many locals commute on bicycles. There are a number of rental locations not far from Canada Place. Spokes Rentals is only four blocks down the waterfront (1798 W Georgia Street).
Money – A Canadian dollar is currently about US$0.80 and unlike the Eastern Canadian cities Vancouver businesses will often insist on cash being in Canadian money.
Gastown and Chinatown, as mentioned above are not far from Canada Place and well worth a visit.
Vancouver Aquarium located in Stanly Park down the waterfront to the northeast about a mile. It is an Canada’s largest and an good place attraction especially if you are traveling with children.
Science World was with its iconic dome was originally built for Expo ’86, and is home to a number of interactive exhibits as well as one of the world’s largest OMNIMAX theatres. Located less than a mile and a half from Canada Place.
Capilano Suspension Bridge is a ways out of town but people from all over the world come here to experience this bridge and the natural beauty of the area. It is located in the Capilano area.
If the world has a perfect port of call, in our opinion, this is it. Besides being the worlds greatest natural harbor, the harbor is surrounded by a truly remarkable city. The center of the Sydney harbor area is Circular Quay with ferries leaving regularly for dozens of destinations like Manley Beach, Watson’s Bay and Luna Park. In addition the Circular Quay is located near the Sydney Opera House, the harbor bridge, the Rocks and metro hubs. The great news is that cruise ships dock right next to Circular Quay.
Where You’re Docked – One of the great things about Sydney as a port of call is the pier location. It docks right next to The Rocks, a great historic neighborhood with restaurants, shops and a museum. Less than a half mile walk behind The Rocks is Darling Harbor which is a modern centerpiece to the area with attractions and great restaurants. A short walk in the opposite direction is Circular Quay where you can catch any number of ferries to destinations all around the harbor.
Transportation – Getting into the central city is just a short walk from the pier and the mass transit options are really good. If you are going to be in Sydney for a while or if you want to spend your day traveling on your own, be sure and get an Opal Card. Because ships dock very near Circular Quay you can also easily catch a ferry to any number of locations around the harbor (Opal Card works on ferries too).
Money – You should get some currency exchanged even if you plan on relying on credit cards just for incidentals. Currently the Australian dollar is equal to 76¢ U.S. Also you need to know that Australians DON’T tip. If you go to a restaurant and the menu says $10.00 that is exactly what you should expect to pay. Most listed prices include all taxes and tips.
Local Highlights – Within a couple of blocks of the pier are two museums, the Museum of Contemporary Art and the Discovery Museum, both worth a visit.
The Sydney Opera House – Even if there are no productions there are still guided tours ($) of this architectural masterpiece.
The Harbour Bridge – This structure dominates the harbor and there are tours that will walk you up the suspension cables to the top.
Darling Harbor – Less than a half mile west of the pier is Darling Harbor with restaurants, shops and Sea Life the Sydney Aquarium.
Royal Botanic Gardens – Just to the east of Circular Quay is a large park that includes the Gardens along with The Rose Garden and Pavilion.
Catch a Ferry – Grab a ferry at the Quay and see Sydney from the water. Visit Manley Beach, a popular surfing beach and Watson’s Bay for good fish n’ chips.