From the Northern Lights reflected in the Norwegian Sea, to the breath-taking sight of the Opera House when entering Sydney Harbour, seeing a city or famous landmark from the water can be a magical experience, offering a completely different perspective on a destination.
To identify some of the most impressive views from the ocean, CLIA (Cruise Lines International Association) has surveyed a selection of cruise line Captains to find out their favourite port approaches or cities best seen by sea:
Tromso, Norway – Captain Arnfinn Kaasbøll, Hurtigruten
“I never tire of sailing into the beautiful city of Tromso, with its wonderful blend of traditional wooden buildings and more modern structures such as the beautiful Arctic Cathedral, all surrounded by mountains to finish off the picturesque scene.
“However, when you approach ‘The Gateway to the Arctic’ with the Northern Lights twinkling overhead, it is truly spectacular. Tromso is directly beneath the Aurora Oval (the epicentre of Northern Lights activity) so we regularly have an opportunity to watch this fantastic show as it changes from light green to dark purple flickering across the sky above the city.”
New York, USA – Captain Hakan Svedung, Norwegian Cruise Line
“My favourite city to approach by water has to be New York. The Manhattan skyline is one of the best in the world. When approaching New York early in the morning the light casts a special glow over the city-scape and with the buildings still lit you can even see an almost perfect reflection in the Hudson River – it’s just stunning.”
Istanbul, Turkey – Captain John Westgarth-Pratt, Thomson Cruises
“My current favourite has to be a sunrise arrival in Istanbul, Turkey. As this huge city split between two continents awakes, the morning layers of mist lift from the surface of the Bosphorous. The sunrise over the Asiatic side also illuminates the minarets and grand domes of the Haghia Sophia and the Blue Mosque.
“The ship’s course then alters slightly to place the towering Bosphorous suspension bridge straight ahead, leaving the Maiden’s Tower close to starboard – then the ship swings 180° to port through the strong strait currents and morning ferry traffic. A slow approach is then made to enter the Golden Horn estuary and berth starboard side alongside the Salipazari terminal in the very heart of the city. There really is no better way to enjoy and appreciate the dramatic skyline and architecture of Istanbul than arriving by sea at dawn.”
Skagway, Alaska – Captain Daniel Green, Regent Seven Seas Cruises
“What I really enjoy is nature and one time, so my favourite port has got to be Skagway, Alaska. The last time I visited, we were accompanied by some killer whales on the approach. I slowed the ship and we cruised alongside each other for a long time. The sight was breath-taking and forms some of my best memories at sea”.
Symi, Greece – Captain Nikos Charlaris, Louis Cruises
“As you glide into the long, natural harbour at Symi, you feel like you have slipped back in time. Perhaps the prettiest harbour in Greece, tiers of neo-classical mansions, owned by sponge fishing millionaire and shipping magnate are set in an amphitheatre bay overlooking crystal clear waters. The harbor has been a protected architectural site since the 1970s, which means it keeps its authentic and peaceful feel.”
Sydney, Australia – Captain David Pembridge, P&O Cruises
“The most spectacular sail in, in the world, must be Sydney. In the early morning, before dawn, the ship sails from the turbulent waters of the Tasman Sea through “the heads” into the calmer waters of Port Jackson. The unspoilt shores of the harbour are only faintly visible in the twilight as she turns to port to commence the passage through the navigation channels that will bring her into the heart of the city.
“Early morning ferries and adventurous yachtsmen crisscross ahead of her as she continues towards the outline of Bradley’s Head, sitting dark against the lightening sky. As dawn approaches, the turn to starboard around Bradley’s Head brings the moment for which all of the watching passengers and crew have been waiting; the fantastic city skyline, the iconic Opera House and the vast span of the harbour bridge come into breath-taking view and welcome all on board to another wonderful visit to this magnificent city.”
Miami, USA – Captain Alessandro Galotto, Carnival Cruise Lines
“Miami is one of my favourite homeports as it not only offers warm, sunny weather all year-round but also a breathtaking view on arrival and departure. The giant skyscrapers that line downtown Miami, the million dollar mansions along the coastline and the world-famous South Beach all come into view when sailing in and out of Miami.”
Cape Town, South Africa – Captain Christopher M Turner, Holland America Line
“The unique outline of Table Mountain with the ‘tablecloth’ laid and curling at the edges, as the view of Cape Town (Kaapstad) rises around Table Bay.”
Hong Kong – Captain Geir-Arne Thue-Nilsen, Seabourn
“One of my favourite city skylines is in Hong Kong. To see the colour and light reflections from the sea is truly a beautiful sight.