Cruise holidays: What to book to see the world’s most iconic cities

Take in the beautiful sights of Sydney from Ovation of the Seas. Photo / Royal Caribbean

Dreaming of setting sail to some of the world’s most famous places? Tiana Templeman looks at the best cruise itineraries to take you there.

Rio de Janeiro, Brazil

It’s party time! Spend two nights in Rio de Janeiro during the height of Rio’s Carnival on a 15-night round-trip cruise on Azamara Pursuit departing Buenos Aires on February 10, 2023. There’s no need to worry about the exorbitant cost of accommodation during the world’s biggest festival when a restful night’s sleep on board a luxury cruise ship awaits. Or not. You may prefer to spend your nights in Rio partying with samba dancers at the Sambadrome and taking in the spectacle of the city’s colorful street parades. With close to half a dozen different Brazilian ports on this itinerary, you’ll have plenty of time to track down the perfect caipirinha cocktail.
Priced from $3675pp,

Istanbul, Turkey

Journey back in time to the height of the Ottoman Empire on board Costa Fortuna which sets sail on May 9, 2023, after a two-night stay in Istanbul. From bargaining at the Grand Bazaar to touring the Blue Mosque and Hagia Sophia, you’ll have plenty of time to explore the wonders of the Turkish capital before your seven-night cruise departs, especially if you add a few extra days to the start of your trip. Venture to the port cities of Izmir and Bodrum and take in the magic of Mykonos and Athens, the capital of Greece, before your journey comes to an end. This cruise combines history with great food and wine and fun in the sun in the heart of the Mediterranean.
Priced from $1000pp,

The theater on board Costa Fortuna, which sails around the heart of the Mediterranean.  Photo / Costa Cruises
The theater on board Costa Fortuna, which sails around the heart of the Mediterranean. Photo / Costa Cruises

New York, United States

Step on board Celebrity Summit on August 6, 2023, for a 12-night cruise from New York to Reykjavik, which makes the most of the stunning scenery in Canada, Greenland and Iceland. With a New York departure, arriving early and taking a big bite out of the Big Apple before your cruise departs isn’t just fun, it will also help you beat jetlag. Take a trip to the top of the Empire State Building, stroll around Central Park, visit the Metropolitan Museum of Art or catch the metro to the Brooklyn Bridge and eat a hot dog from a traditional hot dog stand. During sail away, grab a portside perch for views of the New York skyline and the Statue of Liberty standing tall in the distance as your ship departs.
Priced from $2905pp,

There's plenty to see on a 12-night Celebrity Cruises journey from New York to Iceland.  Photo / 123rf
There’s plenty to see on a 12-night Celebrity Cruises journey from New York to Iceland. Photo / 123rf

Budapest, Hungary

Budapest is one of the world’s most historic cities, the food and wine are superb, most sights are within walking distance and many of them are World Heritage listed. Staying in the Hungarian capital overnight on a 14-night river cruise gives you time to explore the major sights and also uncover a few hidden surprises. See a show at the Hungarian State Opera House, one of Europe’s most beautiful Neo-Renaissance buildings, for less than $15 a ticket or taste local food specialties at the Great Market Hall. No trip to Budapest is complete without a visit to Cafe Gerbeaud where famous customers such as Franz Liszt used to drop in for coffee with chocolate and a slice of the cafe’s famous apple strudel.
Priced from $4485pp,

Sydney, Australia

Seeing the Opera House and the Harbor Bridge from a cruise ship as you head out to sea is a scenic cruise and a fantastic holiday rolled into one. On arrival and departure, this seven-night round-trip South Pacific cruise on Ovation of the Seas docks at Circular Quay, where many of Sydney’s most famous attractions are either right in front of you or a short ferry ride away. Take a stroll around the foreshore of one of the world’s most famous harbors or head into the city for shopping, art galleries and delicious food and wine. If you choose the right cabin, you’ll enjoy Sydney Opera House views from the comfort of your balcony on this cruise which departs on November 3, 2023.
Priced from $1175pp,

Paris, France

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Paris is all about art, beauty and romance – with fine food, history and famous architecture adding plenty more reasons to pack your bag and head to the French capital. On an 11-night round-trip river cruise from Paris, there’s plenty of time to discover one of the world’s most romantic cities, and the diverse itinerary also includes Normandy’s World War II sites, chateaux-sprinkled countryside, a visit to Monet’s Garden and Honfleur, plus guided bicycle tours through historic villages. At the end of your cruise, the ship docks on the Seine for two nights with free time to explore Paris your way. Multiple departures are available from April to October next year.
Priced from $6500pp,

Singapore, Singapore

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Singapore is easy to get around and English is widely spoken, making it perfect for a cruisy pre- or post-cruise stay surrounded by some of Asia’s best shopping. Holland America’s newly renovated Westerdam has an appealing 11-night round-trip cruise from Singapore with plenty of time to make the most of the city’s 50 plus Michelin-star restaurants and historic cultural districts like Little India, Chinatown and Katong before and after the trip . Add an overnight stay in Phuket and multiple stops in Malaysia and you’ve got a holiday that’s a tropical treat from start to finish.
Priced from $1760pp,

Cape Town, South Africa

With Table Mountain dominating the skyline, Cape Town combines natural beauty and pristine beaches with a lively drinking and dining scene. Thanks to an overnight stay at the start of this 12-night cruise, you’ll have time to take in Cape Towns’ many highlights. Or you could take a tour of the sun-splashed vineyards and picture-perfect valleys of nearby Cape Winelands. Next, the ship heads to Port Elizabeth for wildlife-spotting at Kragga Kamma Game Park, then more national parks and wildlife and an overnight stay at Richards Bay to see the Umlalazi Nature Reserve. Multiple departures are available from December 2022 to January 2023 on board the newly renovated Norwegian Jade.
Priced from $2280pp,

An Avalon River Cruise glides down the Rhine.  Photo / Avalon
An Avalon River Cruise glides down the Rhine. Photo / Avalon

Amsterdam, Netherlands

Starting or finishing with an overnight stay in Amsterdam, a seven-night Avalon Waterways Active & Discovery on the Rhine cruise proves this picturesque European city offers much more than windmills and clogs. Docking near the historic city center means you’re perfectly placed to explore Amsterdam’s atmospheric cafes, historic sites, galleries and museums. With loads of included excursions like a painting class where you can channel your inner artist like one of the European masters, this lively river cruise also stops at Strasbourg and cruises through the famous section of the Rhine Gorge that is lined with castles and lush vineyards. Departures are available from May to September 2023.
Priced from $4650pp,


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