Sailing from United States
Setting sail from San Francisco
Renowned for its food, its misty mornings and its vertiginous streets, cosmopolitan San Francisco is quite unlike any other American city. The birthplace of the hippie movement and the centre of the dot-com bubble, it's an open-minded and forward-looking place with an undeniably European feel. Highlights include the iconic Golden Gate Bridge, the delightful waterfront and the bohemian quarter of Haight Ashbury, while a boat trip across to the notorious prison island of Alcatraz makes for a fascinating half-day excursion.
Book your tickets to go to Alcatraz in advance. It gets sold out, and this really is an unmissable visit.
United States: Honolulu
If the word Honolulu makes you think of deserted beaches and dusky maidens, think again! Despite its remote location in the North Pacific, Honolulu is busy busy, in particular the boisterous, touristy Waikiki beach.
United States: Kahului
United States: Hilo
Hilo is located on the east coast of Hawaii’s Big Island, a lush region of verdant rainforests, botanical gardens and gushing waterfalls. In the 1800s this was an important centre for the sugar industry, and the surviving plantation-era architecture gives downtown Hilo its uniquely quaint appearance.
French Polynesia: Nuku Hiva
Nuku Hiva is the largest of the Marquesas, an island of towering basalt peaks, cliffs and canyons, carpeted with verdant jungle. From the pretty little capital, Taiohae, you can strike out into the unspoilt countryside in search of the island’s many archaeological sites.
French Polynesia: Fakarava (Tuamotu Islands)
The Fakarava atoll surrounds a deep lagoon in the west of the Tuamotu island group, scarcely populated and home to a host of rare wildlife. The entire atoll has been declared a UNESCO biosphere reserve, and the shallow coastal waters make for excellent snorkelling.
French Polynesia: Mo'orea
Mo’orea is one of the real highlights of the South Pacific, a picture perfect landscape of jagged green mountains and dazzling cobalt bays. The warm waters of the lagoon are perfect for a host of watersports, while the lush island interior can be easily explored by scooter or bicycle.
French Polynesia: Papeete
Papeete is the capital of French Polynesia, situated on the northwest coast of Tahiti. The port is not the most magical spot, so we advise venturing forth to luxuriate in the turquoise lagoons, relax on the white sand beaches fringed with palm trees, and explore the rugged mountain peaks.
French Polynesia: Bora Bora
Bora Bora is the very definition of idyllic, a diminutive Polynesian island dominated by rainforest-clad volcanic peaks, overlooking an electric blue lagoon ringed by coral reefs. The beaches and over-water bungalows are particularly popular with honeymooners, and the clear waters of the lagoon are perfect for snorkelling.
American Samoa: Pago Pago
The little fishing town of Pago Pago is the capital of American Samoa, a rarely visited but utterly enchanting archipelago in the South Pacific. Pago Pago sits on a beautiful natural bay on the island of Tutuila, a lush and mountainous place where Polynesian traditions remain strong.
Apia is the capital of Samoa, situated on the north coast of the island of Upolu. Highlights include the colourful markets and Robert Louis Stevenson's former house, now a museum, though you may just want to use the city as a jumping off point for the beautiful beaches located further along the coast.
Lautoka is Fiji’s second largest city, known as the ‘Sugar City’ due to its important role in the local sugarcane industry. The waterfront area is pleasant enough, but we’d recommend using Lautoka as a jumping off point to visit some of the smaller surrounding islands, or the forests and waterfalls of the interior.
New Zealand: Auckland
Auckland offers a buzzing waterfront and a vibrant arts scene, and provides a fascinating introduction to New Zealand’s proud cultural heritage. The centre is home to excellent shopping and a number of fantastic restaurants, and to the west is the city's oldest wine region.
New Zealand: Tauranga
Tauranga is the largest city on the Bay of Plenty, and is said to be one of the sunniest spots in the whole of New Zealand. There’s a real boom town feel here, with new restaurants, bars and hotels opening all the time, and neighbouring Mount Maunganui is a popular beach destination.
New Zealand: Napier
When Napier was destroyed by an earthquake in 1931 the city was rebuilt entirely in the Art Deco style, making this a fascinating architectural time capsule. It’s a lovely, sunny seaside city, and a visit to the surrounding Hawke’s Bay wine region makes for an enjoyable day trip.
New Zealand: Wellington
New Zealand’s cosmopolitan capital is arguably the country’s most likeable city. Hemmed in by forest-clad hills, Wellington is compact and easily walkable, with a lovely waterfront area where you’ll find the must-see Te Papa national museum. The city is also renowned for its strong winds, so make sure you hold on to your hat!
29 February - 2 March
One or our favourite cities in the world, we love pretty much everything about Sydney. Offering outdoor living at its best, the city is known for the excellent beaches but offers so much more, including a thriving and varied food scene inspired by Asian and European flavours.
Brisbane has plenty of shopping malls and, with great weather, a fantastic café culture. Amongst the steel and glass skyscrapers are some interesting historic buildings, and with plenty surrounding the city there’s enough on offer to make for an interesting short stay.
Australia: Airlie Beach
The lively town of Airlie Beach is backpacker central, and serves as a transport hub for the many offshore attractions of the east coast. From here you can take a trip out to snorkel on the Great Barrier Reef, or visit the stunning tropical beaches of the nearby Whitsunday Islands.
Cairns is a buzzing tourist hub, gateway to the Great Barrier Reef and the Daintree Rainforest. A snorkelling trip out to the reef is the most obvious excursion to take here, but other options include riding the Skyrail cableway over the rainforest canopy or swimming in the croc-free saltwater lagoon.
Cooktown is a small place with a big history, named after Captain James Cook, who beached his ship the ‘Endeavour’ here in 1770 after it was damaged on a nearby reef. It’s a remote and sleepy town, and the seafront statue of Captain Cook is the main sight worth seeing.
More of a large town than a city, Darwin is less about what’s contained within the city limits and more about the huge expanse of wild landscape that’s outside it. Closer to Jakarta than Sydney, the city really does feel remote in its tropical perch.
The beaches, spectacular volcanic scenery and lush green rice terraces lend Bali a natural beauty that seems to dovetail perfectly with the island’s distinct Hindu culture, which adorns the landscape with stunning temples.
Indonesia: Surabaya (Java)
Singapore’s heritage as an important trading post means that there is a real cultural mix, with four official languages: English, Chinese, Malay and Tamil. Step away from the gleaming towers and you’ll find yourself transported into another world amongst the intoxicating streets of Chinatown and Little India.
Malaysia: Kuala Lumpur (Port Kelang)
Malaysia’s capital is a hot and humid cultural melting pot, defined by its distinctive Malay, Chinese and Indian communities. The dazzling Petronas Towers are KL’s most recognisable landmark, while at street level you’ll find temples and mosques, elegant colonial buildings and bustling markets.
The Malaysian island of Penang is a fascinating blend of East and West, far more than just a beach destination. Lovely Georgetown, a UNESCO World Heritage Site, is home to British colonial architecture, crumbling Chinese shophouses and incense-perfumed temples.
Laid-back Langkawi boasts some of Malaysia’s finest beaches, and it’s a place where the traditional kampung (village) way of life survives in spite of the island’s development as a tourist destination. It’s also a popular spot for snorkelling and scuba diving thanks to the clarity of the surrounding waters.
As well as a plethora of luxury resorts, Phuket has a charming old town replete with pretty Sino-Portuguese architecture, and acts as a jump-off point for exploring nearby islands and coastline. Koh Phing Pan, better known as James Bond Island, and Ko Phi Phi are breathtakingly beautiful, as are the limestone formations that surround Krabi.
Sri Lanka: Colombo
Colombo may be a little chaotic, but there is plenty to recommend Sri Lanka's colourful capital. Faded colonial architecture and beautiful Buddhist temples hint at the city's considerable history, while the excellent restaurants, lively bars and characterful streets provide the perfect introduction to contemporary Sri Lankan culture.
The port of Kochi, commonly known as Cochin, occupies a strategic location on India’s Malabar Coast, and its history as a trading hub is reflected in the blend of European, Chinese and Arabian influences. It’s also the gateway to the idyllic Kerala Backwaters, which are best appreciated on a houseboat cruise.
India: Mormugao (Goa)
The port of Mormugao is the gateway to the diminutive Indian state of Goa, famous for its golden sand beaches, hippie vibe and unique Portuguese heritage. Highlights include the beautiful colonial architecture of Old Goa, the charming capital, Panjim, and the fragrant spice farms of the interior.
Formerly known as Bombay, this amazing city is larger than life and packed to bursting with things to see and do. Here people of all religions and nationalities live cheek by jowl, thriving communities from all over the world with the foods, smells, languages and rituals maintained at top volume.
Oman’s capital is low-rise and laid back, a far cry from the towering bling of Dubai and Abu Dhabi. Take a stroll along the waterfront Corniche promenade, soak up the sun on one of the excellent beaches, or explore the mosques and forts of the atmospheric old quarter.
United Arab Emirates: Fujairah
The port of Fujairah is an important transit point for the oil that has made the Emirates so rich, though the skyline is nothing like as impressive as Dubai or Abu Dhabi. Points of interest include an impressive fort and a handful of markets, but this is unlikely to be the most exciting stop on your itinerary.
United Arab Emirates: Dubai
Amazing high rise buildings, extensive air-conditioned shopping malls and extraordinary man-made tourist attractions (such as indoor ski-slopes) abound in the glamorous city of Dubai, home to some of the most glitzy and expensive hotels in the world.
United Arab Emirates: Abu Dhabi
The UAE’s gleaming capital gives Dubai a run for its money in terms of extravagant excess, an ever-multiplying forest of skyscrapers looming over the golden sand and brilliant blue waters of the Gulf. Don’t miss the shining white Sheikh Zayed Grand Mosque, one of the world’s biggest.
Salalah is Oman’s second city, and the capital of the southern Dhofar region. Many visitors are surprised by the pleasant sub-tropical climate, which turns the city into an oasis of lush greenery during the ‘khareef’ (monsoon) season between June and September, and in many ways it’s more reminiscent of Zanzibar than Muscat.
Aqaba is Jordan’s principal beach resort, situated on the Red Sea coast close to the Israeli border. There is not an awful lot here in terms of sights; Aqaba's main attraction is the incredible diving, with crystal clear waters and some of the world’s most spectacular coral reefs.
Egypt: Safaga (Luxor)
Safaga is the nearest sea port to Luxor, and ships often stop here overnight to give you time to see everything. Prepare to be amazed – the thin belt of greenery along the banks of the Nile gives Luxor a lush setting for an extraordinary collection of tombs and temple complexes that hint at the magnificence of this former Ancient Egyptian capital.
Israel: Haifa (Jerusalem)
It's difficult to overstate the spiritual significance of Jerusalem, a holy city to three different faiths: Christianity, Islam and Judaism. Whatever your personal beliefs, it's impossible not to be moved by sights such as the Wailing Wall, the Dome of the Rock and the Church of the Holy Sepulchre.
Saint John is said to have written the Book of Revelations in a cave on Patmos, and today the spot is marked by the hillside Monastery of the Apocalypse. As well as spirituality, the island is known for its beaches and upmarket vibe, with a scattering of stylish restaurants and bars.
Greece: Athens (Piraeus)
Athens is a city awash with historical and cultural significance, but it's much more than an open air museum; this is a dynamic, bustling metropolis, and a place where history is still very much unfolding.
Taormina enjoys a truly spectacular setting on Sicily’s east coast, perched on a mountainside looking out towards the smouldering Mount Etna. The medieval streets are pleasant but often crowded in high season, so we’d recommend getting out and exploring the surrounding countryside.
The lovely town of Sorrento, draped across rugged cliffs overlooking the Bay of Naples, has been charming visitors since the days of the Grand Tour. The Renaissance palaces and many craft shops make Sorrento an attractive destination in its own right, and it’s also a jumping off point for Capri, Pompeii and the Amalfi Coast.
Italy: Rome (Civitavecchia)
One of the world’s great cities, Rome continues to dazzle and delight visitors with a potent mix of architectural marvels, continent-defining history and buzzing nightlife. The Colosseum, the Vatican and the Forum are among the big ticket items, with the crowds to match, though in truth you will find history around almost every corner.
Italy: Florence / Pisa (Livorno)
The faded port town of Livorno serves as a gateway to Tuscany’s star attractions. Wonderful Florence, the cradle of the Renaissance, is resplendent with beautiful architecture and unrivalled artistic treasures, while nearby Pisa is of course famous for its precarious Leaning Tower.
Monaco: Monte Carlo
Renowned for its casino, its Grand Prix and its oligarch-friendly tax policies, Monte Carlo is glamour and hedonism personified, with a price tag to match. This little principality enjoys a lovely setting, the villas and penthouses tumbling down the hillside towards the sweeping blue expanse of the Mediterranean.
From the warren-like medieval streets of the Barri Gòtic to the fantastical modernist architecture of Antoni Gaudí, from the dizzy heights of Mount Tibidabo to the golden sands of Barceloneta, there’s never a dull moment in Barcelona.
Much more than just a gateway to the Costa Blanca, Alicante is an attractive and atmospheric city with plenty to recommend it. Founded by the Romans, then ruled by the Arabs for 500 years, the city has a rich history and a lovely old town, along with superb beaches and an excellent modern art museum.
Málaga boasts plenty of chic restaurants and bars where you can ease into the rhythms of life in southern Spain, before exploring sights including the intriguing, unfinished Gothic cathedral, and a museum devoted to the city's most famous son, Pablo Picasso.
Portugal: Ponta Delgada (Azores)
Ponta Delgada is the capital of São Miguel, the largest and most populous island of the Azores. Founded in the 15th century, the city is home to elegant architecture and some excellent restaurants, though the main attraction is the tranquility and natural beauty of the surrounding countryside.
Hamilton is Bermuda’s charming capital, filled with pretty pastel-hued buildings and bursting with British colonial history. Learn more about this past at the Royal Naval Dockyard, take a stroll along colourful Front Street, or relax on one of Bermuda’s beautiful pink sand beaches.
United States: Miami
Downtown Miami is a destination in its own right, with a host of world class galleries, but it's still Miami Beach that draws the biggest crowds. The Art Deco district around South Beach is very much back in vogue, with new restaurants, bars and luxury developments sprouting up all over the place.
Cartagena was founded by Spanish conquistadors in 1533, and the beautifully preserved centre is a real highlight of Colombia’s Caribbean coast. The walled old town, the Ciudad Amurallada, is a camera-friendly collection of cobbled streets and colourful, colonial-era buildings.
Situated at the Atlantic entrance to the Panama Canal, Colón is not somewhere you will want to hang around for long, and serves merely as a gateway to the Canal, which will carry you to much nicer places.
Costa Rica: Puntarenas
Situated on a peculiarly shaped peninsula on the Gulf of Nicoya, Puntarenas is a popular weekend beach destination for residents of Costa Rica’s capital, San José. The port itself is not pretty, but the beachfront Paseo de los Turistas is a nice place to relax with a drink or enjoy a seafood lunch.
Nicaragua: San Juan del Sur
The beach town of San Juan del Sur is a popular hangout for surfers, and it’s a nice place to spend some time relaxing. If you’re looking for a more immersive cultural experience then it’s worth taking an excursion to the beautiful colonial town of Granada, an hour and half away on the shores of Lake Nicaragua.
Guatemala: Puerto Quetzal
Puerto Quetzal is the jumping off point for exploring the fascinating interior of Guatemala, and the highlight of this intriguing country has to be UNESCO-listed Antigua. This colourful colonial town, 90 minutes from the port, enjoys a spectacular setting against a backdrop of volcanoes, and is well worth the trip.
It’s true that Acapulco has suffered from overdevelopment, and has lost some of its lustre since its heyday as a magnet for Hollywood stars. But it’s still a buzzing party town, and even the forest of high rise hotels can’t spoil the setting, a beautiful bay where the Sierra Madre mountains meet the Pacific Ocean.
Mazatlán is one of the most popular beach resorts on the Pacific coast of Mexico, and tourists tend to congregate in the Zona Dorada, where the majority of the hotels are concentrated. The old town is much more interesting, however, with elegantly faded colonial architecture and a vibrant cultural scene.
Mexico: Cabo San Lucas
The sister towns of Cabo San Lucas and San José del Cabo sit at the tip of Mexico’s Baja California peninsula. The towns themselves are mostly given over to luxury hotels and boisterous nightlife, but the surrounding landscape is characterised by arid arroyos, bristly cacti and rocky coastal outcrops.
United States: San Diego
Laid-back, friendly and blessed with near-perfect weather all year round, San Diego is one of America’s most likeable cities. Enjoy a stroll through Balboa Park, dotted with beautiful Spanish Renaissance-style architecture, take a whale watching trip along the coast, or sample the nightlife of the trendy Gaslamp Quarter.
Arriving in San Francisco
Obviously you can’t miss the cable cars, but even if it feels touristy, make sure you ride them.
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Where to stay in San Francisco
It depends where you want to be, but we love the hip Argonaut at Fishermans Wharf.
See more around San Francisco
Get out of the city – Napa Valley, Yosemite, Carmel…