Sailing from United States
Setting sail from Miami
Miami is a pulsating modern city, a cultural crossroads where Cuban émigrés rub shoulders with affluent New Yorkers topping up on winter sun, and where you're just as likely to hear Spanish or Caribbean patois being spoken as you are English. Downtown Miami is a destination in its own right, with a host of world class galleries including the fantastic MOCA (Museum of Contemporary Art), 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.
Bill Baggs Cape Florida State Beach on the tip of Key Biscayne is a great place to get away from the crowds and spot some wildlife.
Sint Maarten: Philipsburg
Philipsburg is the gateway to an intriguing little Caribbean island with a dual personality: the Dutch side, St. Maarten, is the livelier of the two, with shopping malls, casinos and more of a nightlife scene, while French-speaking St. Martin is a more refined (and more expensive) affair, with a laid-back, continental air and a host of exclusive resorts and restaurants.
The island of Dominica stands out from the rest of the Caribbean, a rugged natural paradise that remains blissfully free of mass market tourism. The capital, Roseau, is pleasant enough, but the island interior offers so much more, including thick jungle, bubbling hot springs, cascading waterfalls and abundant birdlife.
There’s more to Barbados than just beaches; the delightful architecture of the old garrison in Bridgetown, the capital, is fully deserving of its UNESCO World Heritage status, and the island interior is littered with old sugar plantations and natural wonders such as Harrison’s Cave.
French Guiana: Devil's Island
The Iles de Salut, a trio of islands more popularly known as Devil’s Island, were the site of a French penal colony which gained notoriety thanks to the harsh treatment of inmates. As well as the overgrown ruins of the prison, which closed in 1953, the islands are today also home to a surprisingly rich variety of wildlife.
Belém lies about 60 miles from the Atlantic coast on the Pará river, part of the vast Amazon delta, and the bustling food markets here are piled high with the bountiful produce of the rainforest. As well as a gateway to the Amazon, Belém is an appealing destination in its own right, with an attractive colonial centre and an imposing fortress.
Recife is a big and bustling metropolis on Brazil’s north east coast, with a historic core that has been mostly swallowed up by the urban sprawl. The nearby town of Olinda is a more appealing place to spend your day ashore, with an arty vibe and some lovely colonial architecture.
Colourful Salvador is Brazil’s third biggest city and a vibrant centre for Afro-Brazilian culture, with frequent festivals that fill the streets with music and dancing. The historic core of the old city is the biggest tourist magnet, where elegant, brightly hued colonial buildings line the cobbled streets.
Once just a sleepy fishing village on a picturesque peninsula, Búzios was put firmly on the map by Brigitte Bardot, who holidayed here in the 1960s. These days it’s an upmarket beach destination, with a host of luxury hotels, sophisticated restaurants and chic boutiques.
Brazil: Rio de Janeiro
The carnival capital of the world, Rio de Janeiro needs little introduction. We can think of few cities in the world that are able to compete when it comes to location: hugging the beautiful sandy shore and surrounded by jungle-clad islands and mountains, including the iconic Corcovado, the setting for Brazil’s most vibrant city is simply breathtaking.
Brazil: Santos (São Paulo)
The busy port of Santos is the gateway to cosmopolitan São Paulo, a vast metropolis that is home to some 20 million people, making it the third largest city on earth. The urban sprawl may not be to everyone’s taste, but for fans of big city life there is plenty to see and do, with a lively cultural scene and a host of world class restaurants.
The city of Itajaí is situated in the southern Brazilian state of Santa Catarina, known for its sweeping sandy beaches and lush Atlantic forest. The region also has an intriguing German heritage thanks to the many immigrants who settled here during the 19th and early 20th centuries.
Located just across the Río de la Plata from Buenos Aires, Uruguay’s underrated capital is a cosmopolitan and eclectic mix of colourful colonial architecture and high rise modernity. The 14-mile waterfront promenade, La Rambla, is a popular and pleasant place to be on a summer’s evening.
Argentina: Buenos Aires
The streets of Buenos Aires are redolent of a grand old European capital, lined with elegant architecture that wouldn’t look out of place in Madrid or Paris. There is also plenty of Latin passion on display: Argentina is the home of tango, that most electrifying of dances, and has played host to countless revolutions over the years.
Uruguay: Punta del Este
The upmarket Uruguayan beach resort of Punta del Este is where the A-listers come to party, with a reputation as the Saint Tropez of South America. The town also has an arty side, typified by intriguing sculptures such as the giant concrete fingers emerging from the beach at Playa Brava.
Falkland Islands: Stanley
The rugged and windswept Falkland Islands make for a fascinating stop on the way to or from Antarctica. Over 80% of the population lives in the capital, Stanley, though humans are far outnumbered by other creatures, including penguins, sea lions and albatrosses.
Perched on the ragged southern edge of Argentina, where the snow-capped Andes fall away into the churning sea, Ushuaia has a frontier town feel to it, and serves as the base for expeditions into the icy waters of Antarctica.
Chile: Punta Arenas
The weather-beaten city of Punta Arenas is a laid back and welcoming place, in spite of its inhospitable location on the shores of the Strait of Magellan. Nearby attractions include penguin colonies and the dramatic scenery of Torres del Paine National Park, while beyond the horizon lie the frozen wastes of Antarctica.
Chile: Puerto Chacabuco
Puerto Chacabuco is situated close to the Aysén Fjord and serves as a gateway to the Laguna San Rafael National Park, a UNESCO Biosphere Reserve. Amongst the lush forests, waterfalls and lagoons you have the chance to spot wildlife including marine otters, giant condors and Chilean dolphins.
Chile: Puerto Montt
Puerto Montt is the capital of the Chilean Lake District, spread out around a wide bay against a backdrop of snow-capped volcanoes. This wild region offers a host of outdoor activities, including mountain hikes, kayaking, white water rafting, fishing, zip lining and cycling.
Chile: Santiago (San Antonio)
Chile’s cosmopolitan capital is a smart, sophisticated place, where life plays out against the stunning backdrop of the snow-capped Andean mountains. Santiago’s moneyed elite congregate in the upmarket districts of the barrio alto, while the Centro buzzes with commerce and culture, home to museums, theatres and shopping malls.
Chile: Robinson Crusoe Island
Situated 400 miles off the coast of mainland Chile, Robinson Crusoe Island is part of the Juan Fernández archipelago, a UNESCO World Biosphere Reserve. The sailor Alexander Selkirk was marooned here from 1704 to 1709, and his story is thought to have inspired Daniel Defoe’s famous novel.
Chile: Hanga Roa (Easter Island)
The enigmatic moai statues of Rapa Nui (Easter Island) remain one of the world’s most intriguing archaeological mysteries. Descendants of the Polynesian settlers who carved them still live here, though these days the island belongs to Chile, despite being separated from the mainland by over 2,000 miles of Pacific Ocean.
25 February - 1 March
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: Huahine
Huahine is perhaps the most beautiful of the Society Islands, and one of the least developed too. The laid back ambience means it’s impossible not to relax here, whether you’re on one of the gorgeous beaches or taking a stroll around the friendly village of Fare.
French Polynesia: Uturoa (Raietea Island)
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: Bay of Islands
The beautiful Bay of Islands is scattered with some 150 undeveloped islands, an idyllic landscape of bright skies, secluded beaches and clear blue waters. The bay was also the site of the first permanent British settlement in New Zealand, and it was here that the Treaty of Waitangi was signed in 1840 between the British Crown and the Maori chiefs.
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.
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.
Australia: Newcastle (New South Wales)
The port of Newcastle, just to the north of Sydney, is the second oldest city in Australia. Historically associated with convicts and coal mining, Newcastle is reinventing itself as a hip post-industrial city, with plenty of cool bars, restaurants and cultural attractions. It’s also the gateway to the Hunter Valley, one of Australia’s most famous wine regions.
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.
Sunny Townsville is a great introduction that everything that Queensland has to offer, sandwiched between palm-fringed beach and rugged outback. It’s a friendly and walkable city, with a fascinating museum and an aquarium that gives you a taste of the Great Barrier Reef.
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.
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.
Indonesia: Celukan Bawang (Bali)
Celukan Bawang is the main port in northern Bali, with quite a different feel to the more touristy parts of the island. Here you can see the magnificent Bugis schooners of Sulawesi, and nearby sights include the former Balinese capital of Singaraja, the wildlife sanctuary of West Bali National Park and the black sand Lovina Beach.
Indonesia: Surabaya (Java)
Surabaya, situated on the northeast coast of Java, is Indonesia’s second largest city and the place where the country’s struggle for independence began. The warren-like Arab Quarter is worth exploring, though many visitors use the city as a base for visiting nearby Mount Bromo.
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.
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.
Thailand: Bangkok (Laem Chabang)
Thailand’s sprawling capital is an assault on the senses, an invigorating blend of tradition and modernity. Soaring skyscrapers, air-conditioned shopping malls and an efficient public transport system combine with shimmering golden temples, ancient palaces, floating markets and at times gridlocked rush hour traffic.
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.
Vietnam: Nha Trang
Nha Trang is Vietnam’s premier beach destination, on a stunning bay dotted with idyllic islands. The main attraction is the laid back seaside atmosphere, but there are also a few noteworthy cultural sites, including the ancient Po Nagar Cham Towers, which were built between the 7th and 12th centuries.
Wander along the perfumed streets of Hanoi’s atmospheric Old Quarter and you could almost forgive yourself for thinking you’d travelled back in time, were it not for the beeping, buzzing morass of motorcycles zipping past.
Hong Kong SAR China: Hong Kong
Hong Kong is a striking mix of ancient and modern, Chinese and British, and there is a lot more to the city than just skyscrapers and high finance. It's also a fantastic destination for foodies, a melting pot of culinary influences from around Asia and beyond.
Taiwan: Keelung (Taipei)
Keelung is a fairly unremarkable port city close to Taipei, Taiwan’s capital. Taipei draws on an interesting mix of Chinese, Japanese and Western influences, and is home to attractive temples, a burgeoning street food scene and Taipei 101, which was the world's tallest building until it was eclipsed by Dubai's Burj Khalifa in 2010.
Japan: Ishigaki Island
Ishigaki is the most developed of the Yaeyama islands, an idyllic tropical archipelago located closer to Taiwan than mainland Japan. The offshore coral reefs make this a popular spot for diving and snorkelling, while the jungle interior offers some great hiking opportunities.
Booming Shanghai has long been China’s most outward-looking, cosmopolitan city, as evidenced by the fascinating mixture of European and Asian architecture. The Bund, a riverfront promenade flanked by grand colonial era buildings, is the city's most famous thoroughfare, while the Pudong financial district lights up the city skyline at night with its futuristic towers.
South Korea: Busan
Busan is South Korea’s second biggest city and one of the world’s busiest container ports, but it’s an easygoing place with a discernibly different character to Seoul. Haeundae beach is a popular summer holiday destination for Koreans, while the pungent Jagalchi market sells every type of fish and sea creature imaginable.
Three days after Hiroshima was flattened by an atomic bomb, Nagasaki suffered the same horrifying fate. The reconstruction of both cities has been quite extraordinary; Nagasaki today is a vibrant, cosmopolitan place, with a fascinating history that goes back a lot further than 1945.
The city of Miyazaki sits on the southeastern coast of Kyushu, the warmest of Japan’s main islands, and it’s a popular spot for domestic tourists. Worthwhile excursions include the historic town of Obi, known as ‘Little Kyoto’, and laid back Aoshima island, home to a picturesque shrine.
Osaka, Japan’s third largest city, is a pulsating commercial hub, famous for its food, and the cityscape rivals Tokyo for neon-lit futurism. If you need respite from the urban sprawl seek out Osaka Castle and the surrounding Nishinomaru Garden, a particularly pretty spot during the cherry blossom season.
Shimizu is one of the most spectacular ports in Japan, a sweeping bay in the shadow of the iconic Mount Fuji. You can spend some time admiring the views and wandering through peaceful pine groves, or visit the unique Shimizu Sushi Museum at the S-Pulse Dream Plaza shopping mall.
In a state of constant renewal and forever looking to the future, densely populated Tokyo is a dazzling introduction to Japan and its utterly unique culture. With more neon than Las Vegas and more Michelin stars than Paris, it’s a real assault on the senses.
The city of Hitachinaka is situated on the east coast of Japan’s main island, Honshu, in an area known for its long sandy beaches and busy fishing ports. Don’t miss the famous Hitachi Seaside Park, which lights up with pale blue nemophilia flowers during the spring and crimson kochia bushes in autumn.
Japan: Miyako (Iwate)
Situated at the southern tip of Hokkaido, Hakodate was one of the first Japanese ports to open up to international trade in the 19th century, and a scattering of European-style buildings remain. Take a ride on the historic streetcar, tuck into delicious seafood or enjoy a revitalising dip in an onsen (hot spring).
Situated on the southern coast of Hokkaido, Muroran is the gateway to Shikotsu-Toya National Park, with its picturesque lakes, hiking trails and hot springs. The buzzing city of Sapporo is also nearby, and the coast is a popular spot for whale and dolphin watching.
United States: Dutch Harbor
Dutch Harbor is the port that serves the city of Unalaska, and is known for the hardy fishermen who brave the turbulent, icy seas off the Aleutian Islands. Points of interest include the remains of defensive fortifications built during the Second World War and the striking Russian Orthodox church.
United States: Kodiak
Kodiak is known as Alaska’s ‘Emerald Isle’ thanks to the lush green countryside, a landscape crisscrossed by gushing salmon-filled streams that provides a home to around 3,000 Kodiak bears, the world’s largest. Ships dock in Kodiak city, an important fishing port with a fascinating Russian heritage.
United States: Seward
The tiny city of Seward, home to just 3,000 people, enjoys a spectacular setting on the edge of Resurrection Bay, on Alaska’s southern coast. Surrounded by the mountains and forests of the Kenai Fjords National Park, it’s a great base for exploring the Harding Ice Field and the stunning scenery of the Kenai Peninsula.
United States: Sitka
Sitka was founded by Russian fur traders in 1799 as the city of New Archangel, and there is still a discernible Russian influence here, including the distinctive St Michael’s Orthodox Cathedral. The town also enjoys spectacular natural surroundings, facing the Pacific Ocean and dramatic Mount Edgecumbe.
United States: Ketchikan
Ketchikan is a great introduction to Alaska’s natural attractions, situated at the foot of towering Deer Mountain and within easy reach of the Misty Fjords. The colourful wooden buildings of Creek Street, the old red light district, are a reminder of Ketchikan’s former status as a rough and ready frontier town; these days, things are rather more civilised!
Cosmopolitan Vancouver is a city that rewards exploration, an eminently liveable place and an easy gateway to the natural beauty of British Columbia. The culinary scene here is a particular draw, with seafood galore and some fantastic Asian restaurants.
Victoria is the capital of British Columbia and Canada’s westernmost city, with a distinctly English feel that occasionally borders on the twee. It’s a very walkable city, with handsome 19th century architecture, verdant parks and a lively harbour, and, this being Canada, the great outdoors is never far away.
United States: Seattle
Situated in the northwest corner of the USA, eclectic Seattle is a jumble of different neighbourhoods, each with its own distinctive character, and the city enjoys a stunning natural setting, surrounded by forests, mountains and the broad sweep of Puget Sound.
United States: Astoria (Oregon)
Astoria is the oldest city west of the Rockies, situated on the picturesque Oregon coast where the Columbia river meets the Pacific Ocean. This bustling port town is sometimes known as ‘Little San Francisco’, with handsome Victorian architecture, a proud fishing heritage and a buzzing, creative vibe.
United States: San Francisco
Renowned for its food, its misty mornings and its vertiginous streets, cosmopolitan San Francisco is quite unlike any other American city. Highlights include the iconic Golden Gate Bridge, the delightful waterfront and the bohemian quarter of Haight Ashbury.
United States: Los Angeles
Los Angeles is 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 Beverly Hills.
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.
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.
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.
The port of Corinto has limited tourist appeal, and most cruise visitors will use it as a jumping off point for day-trips to nearby León. This charming city, founded by Spanish conquistadors in 1524, is full of beautiful colonial churches and home to some excellent museums and galleries.
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.
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.
Cayman Islands: Grand Cayman
Far more than just an offshore tax haven, Grand Cayman boasts the staggeringly beautiful white sands of Seven Mile Beach and some fantastic snorkelling in crystal clear waters. The capital, George Town, is a compact and friendly place, home to some interesting architecture and a suspiciously large number of registered companies.
Arriving in Miami
People watching in South Beach – glamorous gay guys on skates with miniature dogs in slings…
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Where to stay in Miami
Glamorous, hip, or so cool you freeze? Lots of choice… but we really like the Betsy.
See more of Florida
If you have a few days get down to the Florida Keys – magnificent.