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Setting sail from Los Angeles
The sprawling, sun-kissed city of Los Angeles needs little introduction. It's an energetic, creative place with cultural riches to match any world city, home to Hollywood glamour, the iconic beaches of Venice and Santa Monica, and affluent, image-conscious Beverley Hills. Yes, there is a lot of traffic on the 12-lane freeways that criss-cross the city, but there are also plenty of green spaces away from the crowds, and a vibrant restaurant scene. The City of Angels may not be everyone's cup of tea, but no trip to California is complete without experiencing this buzzing metropolis.
Shopping in Rodeo Drive – if only for the people watching opportunities!
United States: Santa Barbara
Sunny Santa Barbara is one of the loveliest cities on the Californian coast, with a beautiful stretch of beach against the backdrop of the Santa Ynez mountains. Architectural highlights include the 18th century Spanish Mission church, and there are plenty of excellent bars, restaurants and shops.
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: Nawiliwili
Nawiliwili is the main port on Kaua’i, the oldest of the Hawaiian islands. This lush landscape of spectacular waterfalls and jungle-clad mountains is criss-crossed by the only navigable rivers in Hawaii, and has been used as a backdrop in films including ‘Raiders of the Lost Ark’ and ‘Jurassic Park’.
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.
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.
27 January - 1 February
New Zealand: Waitangi (Bay of Islands)
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!
Tasmania’s capital has been revitalised in recent years with a slew of new museums, restaurant openings and festivals. Hobart’s highlights include the provocative Museum of Old and New Art (MONA), the lively waterfront and a thriving foodie and craft beer scene.
Australia: Phillip Island
Culturally sophisticated and fashionably hip, Melbourne combines edgy street art with gold rush era architecture while offering excellent restaurants and top museums. If you have time, check out some of Victoria's other attractions, including the beautiful 12 Apostles and the excellent wines of the Yarra Valley.
The sleepy town of Eden, on the beautiful and unspoilt Sapphire Coast, was once an important whaling town. Nowadays the waters of Twofold Bay are a whale watching hotspot, and this is one of the best places in the world to see humpback whales during their spring migration.
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.
Australia: Thursday Island
Thursday Island is one of the Torres Strait Islands, situated to the north of Cape York. Proximity to Papua New Guinea makes for an interesting cultural mix, and the island has a fascinating military history. Be aware that swimming off the beautiful beaches is not recommended due to the presence of crocodiles and marine stingers.
27 February - 1 March
Indonesia: Komodo Island
Komodo Island is situated within an area of spectacular natural beauty, home to the famous Komodo dragon. The stunning beaches are tinged with pink thanks to the high concentration of red coral just offshore, and the waters draw intrepid divers from all over the world.
Indonesia: Benoa (Bali)
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.
The sweltering city of Semarang, on the north coast of Java, is an intriguing mish-mash of Chinese, Islamic and Dutch colonial influences. We recommend escaping the heat with a trip up into the mountains to visit a coffee plantation, or joining an excursion to the extraordinary temple complex at Borobudur.
Vietnam: Ho Chi Minh City
Saigon, as it was known then, was the capital of the South during the Vietnam War, and American-style capitalism has been embraced more enthusiastically here than in the North, with a clutch of shining skyscrapers standing as testament to Vietnam’s surging economic growth.
Thailand: Koh Samui
Attracting everyone from budget backpackers to ostentatious oligarchs, Koh Samui is one of Thailand’s most popular islands. It’s no surprise, given the truly stunning beaches, but the more developed areas such as Chaweng have lost a lot of their charm, so head for the quieter south and west if you can.
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.
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.
Myanmar (Burma): Yangon
Yangon, formerly known as Rangoon, may no longer be Myanmar’s capital, but it remains the largest and most important city, and the gateway to exploring this beautiful country. Visible from all around the city is Yangon’s crowning jewel, the shimmering golden Shwedagon Paya, one of South East Asia’s most beautiful Buddhist temples.
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.
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. The main attraction in Aqaba itself is the incredible diving, though many visitors will choose to instead use the port as a jumping off point for the 'Rose City' of Petra and the desert landscapes of Wadi Rum.
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.
Haifa is Israel’s third city, a bustling and multicultural place where six different faiths live side by side. The city is the spiritual centre of the Baha’i Faith, and the beautiful Baha’i Gardens are a must-see. Many cruise visitors opt to skip Haifa and take an excursion to Jerusalem and Bethlehem, two to three hours’ drive away.
Sun-kissed Rhodes, the largest of the Dodecanese islands, is steeped in history; the medieval heart of Rhodes Town was once home to the crusading Knights of St John, and later fell to the Ottoman sultan Suleiman the Magnificent. The hillside village of Lindos, with its pretty whitewashed houses, is another highlight.
The Turkish port of Kusadasi is the gateway to Ephesus, one of the most spectacular archaeological sites in the Eastern Mediterranean. This was the Roman capital of Asia Minor, and the remains constitute the most complete classical city in Europe.
Istanbul is the place where East meets West, where Asia Minor reaches out across the Bosphorus and almost touches Europe, and the city remains a bristling, bustling cultural melting pot, the skyline dotted with magnificent minarets and domes.
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.
Situated on the north eastern tip of Sicily, so close to the Italian mainland you can almost touch it, Messina is the busy main entry point to the island. The city was flattened by an earthquake in 1908, and again by Allied bombing in 1943, so few historical sights remain, although the cathedral is one of Sicily’s most impressive.
The UNESCO World Heritage-listed centre of Naples rewards exploration, and in addition to the many cultural treasures waiting to be unearthed Neapolitans are rightly proud of their food; this is where you’ll find the best pizza in Italy. The city also acts as a gateway to the fascinating remains of Pompeii and Herculaneum, and the beautiful 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.
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.
Cartagena was founded by the Carthaginians around 227 BC, who named it after their home city in North Africa. These days the city is best known for its well-preserved Roman theatre, which was remarkably only discovered in 1987, in spite of its location in the centre of town.
Spread across steep hillsides that overlook the Rio Tejo, Lisbon’s colourful cityscape includes Gothic cathedrals, majestic monasteries and quaint museums. But for many the best times will be had wandering the narrow lanes of Lisbon’s lovely backstreets, with their great local food, wine and music.
Arriving in Tilbury
The reasons for locating London's only purpose-built deep water cruise terminal in Tilbury were of course pragmatic rather than aesthetic, and we're not going to pretend that this is a glamorous place to begin or end a cruise. However, the location on the Essex bank of the Thames, a short distance from the M25, means that it's a convenient turnaround port for those living in the South East, and it's only 45 minutes by train to central London. The only real point of interest in Tilbury itself is the 16th century fort, situated just along the river from the cruise terminal.
Your home from home
Viking’s hugely successful river cruise operation is now expanded with contemporary 930-guest ocean ships – six lovely sisters to start with – featuring attractive inclusive pricing and interesting itineraries.
What we love
The airy contemporary style of the ships, with fresh Nordic décor, is most appealing. Add to that the huge choices in dining and other facilities, and veranda staterooms throughout, not to mention included shore excursions and an excellent spa, and you have a winner.
|Crew||602 International Staff|
On Viking it is all about the destination. Back on board, expect to socialise with like-minded travellers, in an easy, spacious and understated hotel style environment.
Tailor-make your trip
Where to stay in Los Angeles
It depends where you want to be – at the beach, in Hollywood, or Beverly Hills. At Mundy we think you want to be in Beverly Hills at the Beverly Wilshire.
See the City of Angels from above
Take a helicopter for a great perspective on this sprawling city – see the movie stars’ homes, Hollywood and Santa Monica.