The best cruise ship destinations: from fjords to Granada

//The best cruise ship destinations: from fjords to Granada

It came as little surprise to me that – for the third time – the Norwegian
fjords have been voted the world’s best travel destination, in a survey
organised by National Geographic Traveller magazine.
When I was there on board Cunard’s Queen Victoria in July, I was just as as impressed as when I visited a few years ago during the maiden season of P&O’s Arcadia.
The scenery is stunning, and there’s an endless variety of mountains and views, waterfalls and glaciers, from Hardangerfjord to Sognefjord, from Alesund to Trondheim, Tromso and beyond.
This survey is no popularity contest. The National Geographic panel assesses sustainability and rates destinations on a range of criteria, including environmental and ecological quality; social and cultural integrity; condition of historic buildings and archaeological sites; aesthetic appeal; quality of tourism management; and outlook for the future.
One panellist called Norway’s fjords “about as good as can be done.” Another commented that “the short tourist season, rugged terrain, limited population, and inherent sensitivity of the locals to the environment bode well for the fjord region.”
It’s true that the season for cruise ships visiting the region is brief – many land excursions are not available until snow has been cleared from mountain roads by late spring, and shorter days curtail visits by September at the latest.
There is another way to visit the fjords by ship, however. The 11 vessels in Hurtigruten’s fleet ply Norwegian waters year-round, from Bergen in the south to Kirkenes in the far north. Carrying cars and cargo, they are an essential lifeline to coastal communities, but they have comfortable facilities equal to many modern cruise ships.
Visiting in the winter rules out any possibility of experiencing the midnight sun, but there’s always a chance that the Northern Lights, or Aurora Borealis, will put on a spectacular show.
Some other popular cruise destinations score highly in the National Geographic poll. Medieval Granada and the Alhambra, a must-see excursion from Malaga, are well up the list, and the Alaska’s Inside Passage is said to be “doing well.”
However, the islands of the Grenadines and St Lucia in the Caribbean are “in the balance,” while Venice “has troubles.” St Maarten/St Martin, a Caribbean island shared by the Netherlands and France, is among the worst rated, and is described as “a typical mass-market tourism disaster,” jammed with casinos, fast-food joints, and high-rises.

By | 2017-06-15T16:00:36+00:00 27 October 2009|Cruise Destinations|0 Comments

About the Author:

John Honeywell is a travel writer specialising in cruise ships and cruise travel. Winner of CLIA UK's Contribution to Cruise award 2017.

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