The Intentional Traveler’s Guide To Cruising

Featuring

  • Cruise Tips – Ideas on saving money, communication, land tours, the Jones Act and more.
  • Itineraries – Ideas like cruising the Mediterranean, Alaska, the South China Sea and other itineraries.
  • Ports of Call – Currently find out what to expect in over sixty port and more added all the time.
At anchor Bora Bora

We love cruising…

and we’d love to share our experiences with you in this guide to cruising. We enjoy the onboard entertainment and the food and there always seems like there is something to do. It also gives us an opportunity to do nothing – we read and relax by the pool and just watch the ocean roll by. It takes us through a world of interesting places. We get to meet lots of people from all over along with friends that share our interests. We like it so much we have taken over fifty cruises – and have been around the world and from the Arctic Circle to Antarctica.

Scroll down for the cruising table of contents.

Sint Maarten

We think we’ve learned a few things over the years and we’d like to share our tips, itineraries, and destinations, so take a look through the currently eight dozen articles listed below…

A few things we’ve learned over the past twenty years. Ideas for saving money when booking a cruise, making us of loyalty programs and more. If you are new to cruising and are ready to book a cruise we got some advice that could help…

Cruise Tips

Cell Phones And Cruising                 Duty Free Spirits

Saving On A Cruise                            Cruise Land Tours

Cruising And The Jones Act              Mobile Passport App

Cruising Loyalty Programs              Selecting A Cruise

Icy Straight Point, Alaska

The age of the old ocean liners was marked by trans-Atlantics, Mediterranean  and round the world cruises and were mainly for the very wealthy. Some twenty to thirty years ago cruising came into a new age as first-time cruisers selected the Caribbean, Hawaii and Alaska for their cruising vacations. As those cruisers returned, the industry enticed new customers with bigger and grander ships. Now to keep everyone coming back the industry is looking for new destinations. Australia, the South China Sea, South America and Antarctica to name a few.Every cruise port is different. Some see a virtual parade of cruise ships each week and some rarely have one visit. Being informed about facilities and what’s near the port before you arrive can help you make a plan on how best to get around, what attractions to see and what to expect when disembarking. For warned is forearmed.

Celebrity docked St. Kitts

Cruise Itineraries

The Panama Canal                           Alaska Glaciers

Cruising Alaska                                The South China Sea

Repositioning Cruises                    Cruising The West Coast

New England Fall Cruises              Mediterranean Cruises

River Cruising Europe Pt 1      &       Pt 2

Caribbean Cruises Part 1     Part 2    &     Part 3

Cruise Ports of Call

 

The Panama Canal

We’ve visited over a hundred cruise ports of call. Here we offer our impressions and what we’ve learned about each. So far there are around fifty port articles and we are adding more as fast as we can. Please check back often or better yet become a subscriber and get a notice about each new article.

Sydney

Every cruise port is different. Some see a virtual parade of cruise ships each week and some rarely have one visit. Being informed about facilities and what’s near the port before you arrive can help you make a plan on how best to get around. As you explore your itinerary choices, check here to learn what to expect in those ports of call. Do you tender or dock, are there terminals or is it a working port? How far to town from the cruise dock? What does the port have to offer.

EUROPE

Athens, Greece (Piraeus)                Barcelona, Spain

Cobh, Ireland                                       Dublin, Ireland

Dunmore East, Ireland                      Lerwick, Shetlands

Livorno, Italy                                        Naples, Italy

Palma de Mallorca                               Reykjavik, Iceland

Rome (Civitavecchia), Italy               Santorini, Greece

Port of Venice, Italy                              Villefranche-sur-Mer, France

RIVER CRUISING

River Cruising in Europe Part 1            Part 2

THE US & NORTH AMERICA

Cabo Mexico                                         Cozumel Mexico

Florida Cruise Ports                           Honolulu Hawaii

Icy Straight Point, Alaska                   Juneau Alaska

Key West Port of Call                            Kona, Hawaii

New Orleans                                            Quebec City, Canada

Vancouver, Canada                                Skagway Aaska

Victoria, BC Canada

CENTRAL & SOUTH AMERICA

Porto Madryn, Argentina                  Buenos Aries      

Montevideo, Uruguay                         Roatan Honduras

Stanley, The Falkland Islands           Ushuaia, Argentina

CARIBBEAN

Antigua W.I.                    Barbados

Curacao                            Grand Cayman

Grand Turk                      Nassau, Bahamas

St. Croix USVI                  Sint Maarten

Grenada                            St. Thomas USVI

Roatan Honduras

The lawn, Celebrity Eclipse

ISLANDS NEAR & FAR

Kings Wharf Bermuda                      Azores

Lerwick, Shetlands                             Reykjavik, Iceland

Stanley, The Falkland Islands          Tahiti

Tenerife, Canary Islands

Royal Caribbean Akaroa, New Zealand

ASIA & DOWN UNDER

Akaroa, New Zealand                        Auckland, N. Z.

Bangkok, Laem Chabang                   Brunei

Saigon, Vietnam (Ho Chi Minh)         Manila

Sydney, Australia                                  Singapore

Nha Trang, Vietnam

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The Port of Honolulu Hawaii

Cruise Port Honolulu Hawaii

Honolulu is a frequent stop for cruise ships repositioning in the Pacific, cruises going out of the west coast of the U.S. And Canada as well as cruising the Hawaiian Islands. It is the largest city in the islands, the states Capital and gateway to Hawaii’s most developed island.

General

Honolulu is located on the island of Oahu with a number of areas to visit and sights to see. Nearby is Pearl Harbor with the museums and memorials and in the other direction is Waikiki Beach with the hotels and shopping. This island and city are major tourist destinations and to get a feel for Oahu you need a number of days.

Where The Ships Dock

The cruise piers are located on the northwest side of Honolulu between Waikiki Beach and the International Airport. Cruise ships dock at either the Aloha Tower (pier 11) or Pier 2 about a quarter mile more to the south (primarily used by NCL for Hawaiian cruises). Aloha Tower is conveniently located not far from the downtown area and the Aloha Tower Marketplace. There are facilities located at the cruise terminal and you can walk out without much difficulty. “Downtown” with its shopping and “Waikiki Beach” are not the same location so if you want to visit this famous beach area you will need transportation.

Transportation

For a short visit we would recommend trying to share a cab with others to get to Waikiki Beach, share costs and save time. Local public service is with TheBus and the ride to the beach doesn’t long. If you want to take TheBus a 1-Day Pass is $5.50. Ask your bus operator for the 1-Day

Pass before placing your money in the farebox. It’s valid 12:01 a.m. To 2:59 a.m. the next day, for up to 27 hours of unlimited rides. Our preference is to rent a car. Rates are usually very reasonable and since you are in the United States your insurance covers you. Oahu is a pretty big island with 3 major highways (H-1, H-2 and H-3) and we would strongly suggest that you use GPS navigation. The street anmes are difficult to pronounce and remember and the roads tend to wind around.

Currency

This is the 50th state and the US Dollar is currency.

Attractions

We’ve taken the Waikiki Trolley tour and found it way overpriced for what you get to see. Again we recommend renting a car if you want to see the island. A short taxi ride into the center of the beach is a better investment. If it’s going to be a first trip don’t miss a visit to Pearl Harbor with the USS Arizona Memorial (last we heard it was closed for refurbishment) and the USS Missouri. In Honolulu there are almost too many attractions to count, from shows to an aquarium and zoo. For the best view on the island drive up to Hawaii puu ualakaa state park with the overlook above Honolulu on Mount Tantalus. We love the North Shore with the surf at the Banzai Pipeline and Waimea Bay and a number of great small towns (look for the food trucks) and Waimea Falls Park. There is also The Dole Plantation in mid-island and also a couple of beautiful gardens to check out. Above all else is the ocean and the beaches and the reefs. Snorkeling and diving opportunities abound and depending on the season you can go whale watching too.

Port of Call Roatan Honduras

The Caribbean Island of Roatan, Honduras

The main cruise dock and visitors village

Roatan is the largest of the Honduran Bay Islands in the Caribbean and is becoming a popular cruise itinerary destination. Like many Caribbean destinations it is recognized for its beautiful beaches, water sports, including premier scuba and skin diving, and modern resorts. To accommodate the cruise ships the Honduras government helped develop Mahogany Bay with docks, duty free village and a beautiful beach area.

 

Where You Dock

Most Cruise ships now dock at the Mahogany Bay facility on the southwest coast. The beautifully laid out area includes piers, a duty free shopping area and a beach area. In addition there is also the Port of Roatan located a bit farther west past Barrio La Loma  and some cruise ships may still dock there. It is about five miles between the two port facilities.

Transportation

The best way to get around Roatan is by hired taxi or a rental car. Taxi’s are inexpensive and you can usually negotiate an island tour at a fair price.

Money

The local currency is the Honduras Lempira with one being worth about US 5¢. US Dollars are usually welcome and most major credit cards accepted.

Attractions

Outdoor recreation is the focus on this Caribbean island with sandy beaches and clear, warm water being the main attraction. There are several zip line facilities on the island and a dolphin encounter at Anthony’s Key Resort that’s very popular.

If your ship docks at Mahogany Bay you can spend the day right at the ports beautiful beach, that includes water sports equipment, beach loungers and umbrellas along with some excursions leaving right from this cruise port.

A little over a mile and a half from the Mahogany Bay is the town of Barrio Loma Linda. It is not a resort area but a typical Honduran town with stores and restaurants along with a couple of crafts facilities working in leather and wood.

 

Port of Call Kona, Hawaii

The Port of Kona or Kailua-Kona on the Big Island of Hawaii

Kona is a favorite stop for cruise ships visiting the “Big Island” of Hawaii. Famous for its coffee, beaches and Volcano National Park on the island.

              Link to Google Map                 

Where the Tenders Dock

There are no docking facilities so cruise ships anchored out, using tenders to get ashore. The tenders will dock right at the intersection of Palani Road and Ali’i Drive in the heart of town. Ali’i Drive runs along the waterfront and there are a number of restaurants and shops. Going straight up Palini about a mile will bring you to a Walmart, Post Office, Grocery and a Home Depot.

Transportation

The actual town is small and pedestrian friendly. If you want to get out into the countryside the best option is to rent a car which are available at a few agencies in town.

  Along the waterfront in town

Currency

Hawaii is a state in the United States and the currency is the U.S. Dollar.

Hulihee Palace

Attractions

Kailua-Kona is a town on the west coast of Hawaii Island (the Big Island) with a few sites located near town. Hulihee Palace is a former royal vacation home dating from 1838. Mokuaikaua Church, from the 1800s, is Hawaii’s oldest Christian church. On Kailua Bay, reconstructed thatched houses at Kamakahonu National Historic Landmark are erected on the site of King Kamehameha I’s residence. There are a number of good coral reefs which located just off Kamakahonu Beach. Kona is also near to Kaloko-Honokōhau National Historical Park with some nice hiking trails.

Shopping strip along Ali'i Drive
Shops along Ali’i Drive

The “Big Island” of Hawaii is the largest and southern-most island in the State of Hawaii. It is home to The Volcano National Park which includes Kīlauea, one of the world’s most active volcanoes, and Mauna Loa, the world’s most massive shield volcano. The other major town on Hawaii is Hilo on the southeast coast and another favorite stop for cruise ships.

Cruise Port Grand Turk

Port of Call Grand Turk

The Turks and Caicos are a group of small islands stretching out into the Atlantic on the southeast edge of the Bahamas chain. They are part of the British West Indies and a British Territory. Most cruise lines have over the years developed “private islands” where their ships usually anchor for a day of beach activities for their passengers. Grand Turk is a twofer. It has good docking facilities right in the middle of great expanses of beautiful beach.

 

Where the Ship Docks

Grand Turk is equipped with a modern new dock right next to a nice shopping village with all the usual outlets. A short walk down the pier are also restrooms, food venues and and tour options.

 

Currency

The official currency of these islands is the U.S. Dollar and credit cards are usually accepted.

Transportation

This is a small island and there are a few taxis that offer an opportunity to tour the island. There is also a tour “tram” that travels around the island for about $30.

Attractions

Grand Turk is a very small island and the real attractions are the beaches and water sports. It wouldn’t be inaccurate to characterize virtually the entire island as a beach with the highest point being only about twenty feet above sea level. There are a number of snorkeling and scuba diving options as well as other water sports.

The salt ponds around the island provided a living in the past harvesting salt for export but are now more valuable as home to a number of birds with the most famous being the endangered pink flamingo. There are tours that provide an opportunity to visit ponds for bird watching with one being the Tram.

Good Web Sites for More Information

Carnival Cruise Grand Turk Tours

Port of Call Skagway Alaska

Spending a Day in a Gold Rush Town

Skagway is a very popular port of call for Alaska cruises. With a population that fluctuates between 700 and 2,000 from winter to summer it is easy to see what the economy is based on. While Skagway is small and isolated that doesn’t mean there isn’t anything to do. Historically Skagway has its beginnings in the Yukon gold rush established as the port of entry for the Chilkoot trail leading up to the gold fields. Today it is a tourist destination with a lot of options for just spending a day off a cruise ship to even longer wilderness adventures.

Where You Dock
Cruise pier Skagway
Cruise pier Skagway
Ships tag the rocks above the pier
Ships tag the rocks above the pier

There are a set of modern docks right near town with specific docks designated for different cruise lines. While there are no facilities right on the docks it is a short walk right to the foot of State Street that runs up thru town.

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Transportation

Taxis are available but the town itself can be walked in a short period. There are locations to visit on the outskirts of town like the gold mine where a taxi would be your best option. There are also Pedi cabs and a number of tour operators that offer short ecursions.

Currency

Alaska is a U.S. state and the U.S. Dollar is the preferred currency with most major credit cards accepted.

Riding The White Pass & Yukon RR
Riding The White Pass & Yukon RR
Attractions

If you are looking for a scenic ride The White Pass and Yukon Railroad offers excursion trains up thru the mountains and back. The station is right in town. There is also a gold mining attraction near town and whale watching tours normally available. One of our favorites was the helicopter tour up to a glacier.

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State Street also has the usual lineup of tourist retail stores with an emphasis on jewelry. Look for local crafters and gift items.

Helicopters heading for a glacier
Helicopters heading for a glacier

If you are looking to book a tour our suggestion is to book on your own instead of thru the ship. You will have a whole day in Skagway with plenty of time to set something up. We called the helicopter tour service the day before we docked in Skagway and save almost fifty percent on the booking.

The National Park Service also has a Skagway facility with good information and exhibits about the Yukon gold rush.

Tip: Most U.S. and Canadian cell services do not have any surcharge for using you phones in Alaska. Just make sure you have a land based signal and are not on Cellular At Sea.

 

 

 

 

Port of Call Nassau, Bahamas

A favorite port for three and four day cruises out of Florida and returning longer cruises, Nassau has a lot to offer.

Where You’re Docked

Cruise ships dock at Prince George Wharf, sometimes as many as five are there at once. The wharf is located right in downtown Nassau with a large number of good restaurants and plenty of “duty free” shopping. The island is also famous for it numerous great beaches as well as coral reefs, sport fishing and boating.

 

Crossing a bridge in downtown Nassau gets you to Paradise Island, home of the resort Atlantis and others resorts. It is a two mile walk over the Paradise Island you can walk across the bridge.

Downtown Nassau, The Bahamas
Downtown Nassau, The Bahamas
Transportation
harbour light
Harbour Entrance

If you just want to walk around and see the town it is only a short stroll to downtown. You can rent cars and scooters right at the wharf as well as book land and water tours. Taxis are readily available but you should negotiate price before heading out.

Currency

The countries currency is the Bahamas Dollar which is on par with the U.S. Dollar. U.S. Dollars are readily accepted.

Cruise ships in port
Cruise ships in port
Attractions

Three miles east along the north shore out of Nassau is the exclusive Cable Beach area, a resort beach with great beaches and a number of good restaurants and hotels. Again near town there is also Paradise Island and the Atlantis resort (often cruise ships offer day tours over to Atlantis).

Atlantis
Atlantis
  • Atlantis on Paradise Island   A destination all on its own. FeaturesWater park, aquariums, beaches. Requires admission (day pass) unless you are a resort guest.
  • Fort Fincastle  1793 stone fort & former lighthouse
  • Ardastra Gardens Zoo, gardens & conservation center
  • Prince George Wharf    Cruise-ship dock with tour vendors
  • Clifton Heritage Park .  Nature trails, historic ruins & beaches
  • Dolphin Cay Atlantis &
  • Bahamas Dolphins Adventure . Marine habitat with dolphin interaction
  • Marine Habitat at Atlantis .   Large aquarium at an upscale resort
  • Fort Charlotte .  1788 stone fort with moats & dungeons
  • Queen’s Staircase .  Stone staircase, circa 1793
  • Pirates of Nassau .  Pirate museum with replica ship
  • National Art Museum .  Local history & art in a historic villa
  • Sea Trek Helmet Diving

 

Good links for additional information: