One of the big selling points of cruise vacations is the idea that we unpack once but see multiple destinations. True, but not exactly headline news when cruise industry stories are dominated by amazing new ships sized right for their what they do. So often the focus of a cruise is on the ship itself, making choosing the right one much like a carpenter might choose the right tool when building something. Choose the wrong hammer and the job might get done but it will take more effort. So it goes with cruise lines and finding one that is a good fit. Mixed up in all of that, we commonly forget about the magnificent places we see along the way and that’s a shame.
Looking back on travel experiences, we might not remember exactly what we had to eat at place A or how much it cost to visit place B. But the destinations; those we will remember, recalling when we see one while watching a film, on television or overhear someone talking about them in casual conversation. Here are some of the magnificent places I have seen, via cruise ship.
Wurzburg, Germany is home to the impressive Bishops’ Residenz, a baroque structure and a UNESCO World Heritage site. Wurzberg is also a great place for a self-guided walking tour, which is exactly what we did last summer on a Viking River Cruise.
Stopping by local shops and attractions took just a couple hours with no public transportation needed on the mostly pedestrian-only streets. On board Viking River Cruises longship, Viking Odin, we docked just on the outskirts of the city center, a bustling area for both tourists and locals alike.
The Ancient Ruins Of Chichen Itza
When it comes to ocean cruise shore excursions, in the Caribbean, I thought I had done most all of them over the years. Beach breaks, catamaran sailings, zip lines: been there, done that. Not that each tour does not have its merits, they do and all contribute to the overall cruise experience in their own unique way. But when it comes to Mayan Ruins, the thrill had been long gone until I did a tour of the Chichen Itza Mayan Ruins with Holland America Line.
Getting there took a 30-minute ferry ride and a three-hour bus ride each way. Once there, we would have a total of four hours at the site on a guided tour. Do the math; that’s 7 hours travel time just to get there and back for a total of 11 hours altogether. Prepared to be the only one on the bus, there were 39 of us who were either in for a big disappointment or a lifetime-memory quality experience. It turned out to be the later of the two.
Sailing the Windward Islands on Star Clippers’ Royal Clipper was indeed a unique experience, unlike any other “cruise” I had been on before. In a way, it was my first time “at sea” and “setting sail” took on a whole new meaning on a tall ship that has sails that are actually used to propel the vessel.
Always a fan of being completely surrounded by ocean in all directions on any ship ever sailed, the whole process and resulting experience is amplified on a ship with sails. It’s an experience everyone who is a fan of cruise travel needs to do at least once, if not more often.
Life at sea is living easy with few activities and events scheduled for the day, and for good reason. Most passengers are off the ship during the day, either at the beach du jour or on an excursion. Services do continue however and the camaraderie among passengers is addicting.
There are other magnificent places I have seen via cruise ship too, each stand alone destinations that we commonly say “I’d like to come back here and stay for a week”, but never do. Not that they are not worth the trip, they are. But there are just so many interesting places in this great big wonderful world to see and only one lifetime to see them in. I suppose that’s what keeps us coming back to cruise lines and ships of all shapes and sizes as we explore the world and see these fabulous places with our own eyes.
I have a feeling this is not the last of this type of post as we cover the places we have been, dream of and will see in the future.