Saturday, 1 May 2021

23 Amazing World Destinations - My Favourite places from 10 years of Cruising

So often I am asked "Where is your most favourite place in the world?" This is a hard question to answer. There are so many amazing destinations, it's difficult to chose just one! There are plenty of places I would love to re-visit and for many different reasons.

I do love beautiful scenery, old towns, remote areas, historic sites, harbours, fjords and the list continues. On my travels across the world, sailing the seven seas on the cruise ships, there would be some surprises along the way. Often there would be ports of call on itineraries that were not envisaged as highlights but they ended up as amazing destinations that really touched my heart. Some I will never forget and hope to return to some day.

Nonetheless, in this article I will share with you some of my favourite places and why I feel they are the most amazing destinations. Although they are numbered, there is no particular order I prefer these locations........they are all unique and fabulous in their own way.


Efjord was one of the first ports in Norway I visited. To be honest, I wasn't looking forward to Norway. I loved the sun. I was born in the Mediterranean and later returned to live there for 15 years prior to working on cruise ships. However on the approach to the port I was mesmerised by the beauty of the fjords. This little village has so few residence but is surrounded by the most picturesque scenery. 

I took a hike through the village and along the fjord. I walked for miles, took in the pure air and vowed I would some day return. I am so lucky to have had many return visits to Eifjord on several cruises. I just never tire of this scenery or Norway.

2. Ny Alesund

The most breath-taking little place I have ever seen. There is not a lot here, but the beauty stays in my mind forever. Ny Alesund is the world's northern-most settlement, situated 79 degrees north in the northern western region of Spitsbergen in Svalvard. Originally a coal mining settlement, it is now a research station with scientists from over 10 different countries and around 35 residents. 

The scenery here is a dramatic backdrop of glaciers. As you walk towards the settlement, beware of the Arctic Terns as they defend their territory and attack to ward you off!! Ny Alesund has it's own airport, harbour and the world's northern most post office ..... so don't forget to send your post cards. There is also a small cafe and a souvenir shop.

3. Sidi Bou Said

A Clifftop setting , ornate blue doors and whitewashed houses. This is not is in fact Tunisia. A most picturesque elevated village.

Sidi Bou Said overlooks the dazzling Bay of Tunis, with an extremely steep road leading to the beach and stunning marina. The beautiful narrow streets are adorned with an array of colourful blooms and there are so many little cafes and coffee shops to take a break and admire the spectacular views. I would often sit and have a coffee and just take in all the beauty of this's like 'Santorini' but in the Bay of Tunis!!

4. Marrakech

Marrakech - colourful souks, stylish hotels, Moorish architecture.....there is so much to explore. I spent 3 days here on a guided overland tour. I walked the alleyways of the Medina and through intimate gardens. I  just had to stop every so often to really admire the beauty of the city's mosques. 

Jardin Majorelle, a botanical garden created by the French painter Jacques Majorelle. This garden is full of cacti and tropical plants and there is a beautiful indigo blue art deco house as a centrepiece.

Souk Place des Espice, is a traditional spice souk where you will find every spice you can think of. Moroccan cuisine is famous for its rich and aromatic flavours. This open air souk is truly atmospheric. As well as hundreds of bags of spices you can also buy colourful basketry. This really is a souk not to be missed.

5. Batumi

This port was a surprise visit. Due to the unrest in the Ukraine at the time....the ships itinerary was changed last minute and we arrived in the port of Batumi.......first ever ship to dock here too. I didn't really know what to expect but I was so pleasantly surprised, that it is now on my bucket list to re-visit.

The striking mix of architecture is really apparent when you walk along the coastline and through the town. There is an eclectic mixture of traditional Russian houses, modern and very unique buildings all alongside highly coloured Soviet-era apartments and beautifully preserved period buildings found in the streets of the Old Town. The other noticeable structures are the plentiful sculptures and monuments. My favourite being 'Ali and Nino', two metallic sculptures continually rotating and very captivating!

6. Sumela Monastery

I wasn't due to visit this Monastery when we arrived in Trabzon, Turkey ....... but I am glad I went along for the ride. This is a truly magnificent ruin.  Founded by the Greeks in the 4th century, the ruins of the Sumela Monastery are magnificent. This impressive structure is built on the side of a sheer cliff drop above an evergreen forest and without question the highlight of a visit to Trabzon, Turkey.

There is quite a strenuous climb of 1.2km, zig-zag, uneven natural path. Once at the site the views are superb. There are steps to the Monastery itself and an 'overlook' to view the archaeological site. There is a colourful fresco adorned church cove and several view points to the stunning scenery. 

7. Nessebar

Nessebar, Bulgaria, a small rocky peninsular protruding out onto the Black Sea. Surrounded by the ancient fortress walls it is full of history from thousands of years of civilisation

I love the old narrow cobbled streets. They are full of little handicraft shops and the street vendors selling lots of art work and tourist memorabilia ....... there is a real atmosphere within these ancient town walls. Along the coastline you will find cafes and bars with a full view of the Black Sea. 

8. Flam

Flam is nestled at the innermost bank of the Aurlandsfjord and surrounded by mountains, waterfalls and narrow valleys. This is a popular destination for cruise ships as Flam harbour is just a short walk away from the shops, hotels, cafes, souvenir shops and the famous Flamsbana (the Flam Railway). I never missed a ride on the railway. It's an absolute must. The journey takes you from Flam by the fjord to the top of mountains, past waterfalls and steep hillsides. The scenery is stunningly beautiful

9. Hvar

Hvar , Croatia is best discovered on foot, as most of the streets and the harbour itself is pedestrianised. A long seaside promenade dotted with small rocky beaches, stretches from each end of the harbour. Some very tasteful bars and cafes line the prom......plenty of time to admire the luxury yachts and some people watching. The streets are cobbled with plenty of souvenir shops and coffee bars. Hvar is well known for its cakes, so a must with a coffee. 

10. Istanbul

Istanbul, I find this an extraordinary and magical place.......where East meets West and so much more.

The beautiful Blue Mosque, the city's signature building with its 6 tapering minarets. Inside, the huge space is set with thousands of blue lsnik tiles....hence its 'unofficial' name and loved by both the locals and tourists alike.

A visit to the chaotic and very colourful Grand Bazaar, with its maze of lanes, assorted stores and bargains galore.......follow the hoards of shoppers downstream to .......... 

.......the world of tantalising tastes at the Spice Bazaar and the busy shopping precinct of Tahtakale.

11. Bora Bora

Bora Bora is an international holiday destination with beautiful luxury hotels and water bungalows. I was extremely lucky to visit this island on my very first cruise back in 2008. The most popular area is Vaitape, on the western side of the main island. The beaches are white sand with plentiful coconut trees.

The best and most famous restaurant on Bora Bora is Bloody Mary's, frequented by celebrities and known for its fresh food, signature cocktails and fabulous ambience.

12. Alta

Alta is the largest town in the Northern most county in Norway and lies at the inner reaches of Altafjord. The scenery offers forests, mountain plateaus and coastal landscapes. There are plenty of opportunities for hiking, cycling and fishing.

In the middle of the most stunning scenery and surroundings at the bank of the altaelver river you will find the Sorrisniva Igloo Hotel known as the Ice Hotel. A luxurious building made purely of snow and ice. I had a blue vodka in a glass that was actually made of ice!!

I was extremely lucky to see the Northern Lights whilst I stayed here. The sky was in bloom with various colours of green, turquoise and pinks for a full four hours

13. St Petersburg

St Petersburg, the most fascinating city in the world. I love everything about this city. The history, the palaces, the churches, the architecture and the sheer grandeur. I was so lucky being part of the crew because we did not need a visa. We would dock for 2 or 3 days, so I was able to walk through this amazing city. I was always so memorised by the 'Church on the Spilled Blood'. The church was built to commemorate the death of the last Tzar,  Alexander II. 

There is so much to see and do here. In the city itself there is the Winter Palace , the Hermitage, St Isaacs Cathedral, Peter and Paul Fortress, a visit to the Aurora ship, boat trips, kayaking down the canals and so much more. 

14. Tallinn

Tallinn, Estonia.......a little gem in a Baltic Cruise. After the heavy itinerary of St Petersburg, it is a pleasure to stroll through the old town of Tallinn. This is a fairytale, turreted, medieval town with big cobblestone streets and tiny little alleyways. The Town hall square is the central hub and very lively. 

Take a seat in one of the cafes that are lined along the pavements or wander the narrow streets and browse through the local market stalls for handicrafts or the delicious local treats. There is a fabulous chocolate shop that sells the most tasty cakes and a selection of local chocolate sweets. The setting is a small courtyard where you can enjoy the outside, or sit inside and admired the luxurious furnishings and enjoy your sweet treat. If I had time to spare then I would definitely head for this little treasure. 

15. Honningsvaag

I love this place......the end of the world. There is something fascinating about Honningsvaag with its fabulous shops, Arctic dining experiences, cultural centres, galleries and of course, it's most popular tourist destination......the North Cape and the iconic Globe monument. To stand at the Globe and peer over the cliff tops at the sea below is a truly unique experience.

16. Grunjarfjordur

Grundarfjordur is a small town found on the north coast of the Snaefellsnes Peninsula, west of Iceland. A trip to see Church Mountain (Kirkjufell) is a must. This beautiful summit stands alone on the edge of the sea with its dramatic slopes, spire-like peaks and one of the most photographed attractions. 

The most delightful way to explore Grundarfjordur is by boat, which was the tour I decided to do. I am so glad I did, as during the summer you can see puffins........ and in the winter, it's whale watching.  From the boats you also have a unique view of Kirkjufell.

17. Reykjavik

I had a wonderful time here in Iceland's capital city. I went on a bicycle tour and although a bit tiring and hard work, it was definitely the best way to see the city and it's sites. I cycled up to the Perlan Museum a modern nature exhibition with its indoor ice cave and 360 degree views of the city from it's viewing platform (this is where I took my photo above) ......... and if you get a chance, visit the Icelandic Phallological Museum (I haven't posted a photo, you need to google that one). I cycled along the coast and just a few minutes from downtown Reykjavik is the Seltjarnarnes peninsula with it's inspiring walks and thrilling cycle paths. The panoramic views here are magnificent.

18. Rome

Who cannot love Rome? A vibrant city, full of monuments, ruins, phenomenal history and exceptional architecture ...... in a 10 hour time slot you can walk this city and see all the sites. I have visited Rome on numerous occasions and never tire of the lively, high spirited street life, the tiny cafes tucked away down winding side streets and visiting all the sites. One of my favourites being the Trevi Fountain above. The first time I saw the fountain, I was not expecting it to be such an enormous structure with such intricate detailing. It's fascinating!!

There is so much to see here and it is quite tiring to this all in one day. Another city on my bucket list to visit over a long weekend. I would like to experience Rome during a summers evening, with tourists and locals alike sitting and eating in the courtyards and on the streets, enjoying the warmth and true Italian spirit.

19. Sorrento

Beside the stunning Almafi coast......Sorrento (the Sorrento Coast) in itself is the most picturesque place. Visit Piazza Tasso, the main hub of activity in Sorrento. There is so much to see here, from visitors to the locals, horse drawn carriages picking up and dropping off tourists and a string of coffee houses and restaurants housed in grand yellow buildings. The old town is charming and has a real Italian feel to it with ornate balconies and colourful buildings. The shoe shops are fabulous, with all handmade and beautifully designed shoes. I just love the shops here and I sampled some of their world famous limoncello.

20 Taormina

Sicily....... The land of the 'Godfather' and it's most iconic scenes. Taormina does not disappoint....the views from this elevated town are stunning. I found this beautiful place just breath-taking.  

The Ancient Greek Theatre and main monument of Taormina is not to be missed. The scenic location and views are second to none. 

In the summer the cobbled streets are adorned with an array of beautiful blooms cascading from the apartment balconies. There are numerous cafes and coffee shops and I just love to sit and people watch here. 

21. Lisbon

Lisbon, a regular port of call into the city I love very much. In fact it feels like home. Not only did I look forward to seeing the city itself, but I have made friends with the Agents and still friends with them today. It's a city I want to visit perhaps for a weekend. We have a favourite restaurant called 'SOL Brasil' close to the Metro where we meet up, drink, eat and be merry.

The Alfama district is a magical place and reached by funicular railway or lift. You will find a labyrinthine of alleyways, hidden courtyards and beautifully tiled buildings.  

There are many monuments in Lisbon to visit and very visible as you approach the city. Belem Palace, the Discoveries Monument, the 25 April Bridge and Cristo Rei to name but a few.

22. Venezuela

If I am completely honest with you ........ I was really taken with almost every port in South America. I loved every location and the amazing and diverse scenery as we cruised around the continent. It is hard to chose just one place. 

It was an extremely hot day and I found Venezula to be a country of amazing beauty. The scenery was an assortment of table topped mountains, flat plains and fabulous white sandy beaches dotted along its vast coastline. There is an abundance of wildlife to see here which I thoroughly enjoyed on a 2 hour kayaking tour. 

23. Cuba

I arrived in Cuba on the 25th November 2016, the day Fidel Castro died. A sad day for Cuba and an unusual visit for me. There was no dancing in the streets at nighttime and the atmosphere was very dispiriting!! 

I visited Havana, the Capital city and was quite taken by all the vintage cars and the timeworn but magnificent architecture. 

Cuba, is a large Caribbean island under communist rule. You will find white sandy beaches, rolling mountains, cigars and rum in abundance. Havana is well-preserved, with Spanish and Colonial Architecture. This city is trapped in time. Havana really captures the imagination with it's array of colourful buildings and plentiful street sculptures. Old Havana, usually full of salsa music and open air bazaars was still bustling with shoppers, locals and tourists but the billboards and posters of the city were not of Latino dancers and guitars but of Fidel Castro......hauntingly visual wherever you chose to look. 

There are so many more destinations I would love to share with you........but I think I need to write a 'part two' article as this could continue for ever. I thoroughly enjoyed looking back at my photos and grateful for the opportunities I had to see the world. There are numerous places I would love to re-visit one day and perhaps spend more time to enjoy these destinations.

Travel expands the mind. You learn so much about history, culture, food and people. Travel takes you out of your comfort zone and brings new experiences. Just the planning and research of a trip can have a fantastic effect on the mind and body. It promotes happiness and boosts energy. I love to travel and there are still so many amazing destinations yet to discover. 


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