Three cruise captains share some top tips and reveal some of their favourite ports in Europe.
CAPTAIN MICHAEL KATZAS OF CELEBRITY CONSTELLATION
FAVOURITE EUROPEAN PORT: Gibraltar, UK territory on Spain’s south coast.
The Gibraltar Straits connect the Atlantic Ocean to the Mediterranean Sea and at their narrowest point, separate Gibraltar from Africa by only seven nautical miles – making the tiny British territory a curious melting pot of languages and customs.
EAT: My favourites are Rosto, a hearty beef pasta dish in a tomato sauce topped with local Queso Bola cheese, and Torta De Acelga, a spinach pie which is actually of Italian origin but very popular in Gibraltar.
DO: You must visit the Rock of Gibraltar. At over 400 metres high, the Rock boasts a wealth of fascinating sights including Europa Point, one of the many lookouts offering breathtaking views. It looks out to the Moroccan Coast of Africa on a clear day and, of course, is home to the famous Barbary Macaque monkeys.
SECRET INSIDER TIP: For anyone planning a trip to the top of the rock be sure to make it back onboard with all your belongings – those monkeys like to take souvenirs from tourists!
BEST TRAVEL ADVICE I’VE BEEN GIVEN: Use your time relaxing on the ship’s deck on a sea day to learn a few greetings in the local language. You’ll find building rapport with the locals you meet will make your travels even more memorable and rewarding
See cruise: From NZD$2,299 pp. for an Oceanview Stateroom and beverage package on a 10-night Italy and Spain voyage on Celebrity Constellation, departing Rome on 7 May 2018.
CAPTAIN CARL SMITH OF AZAMARA QUEST
FAVOURITE EUROPEAN PORT: Kotor, Montenegro
Kotor has been my favourite port ever since I visited for the first time some 15 years ago! There’s nothing quite like sailing into the stunningly beautiful fjord-like Bay of Kotor on a cruise ship; and the old-world atmosphere of the town is breathtaking.
DO: I love the hike up to St John’s Fortress at the top of the hill. Dotted with old churches and war-time ruins, the walk is rich in history as well as beauty. And the view at the top looking out upon Kotor Bay is out of this world!
EAT: I love the pizza with Njegušk prosciutto! Montenegro’s crisp sea and mountain air is said to give this cured meat its flavour.
SECRET INSIDER TIP: Visit “The Lady of the Rock” opposite Perast – this beautiful church sitting atop a man-made island is rich in maritime history and features extensively in local mythology, considered a guardian angel to all sailors – and cruise ships – that pass by.
BEST TRAVEL ADVICE I’VE BEEN GIVEN:
Pack everything you think you will need – then remove 20 percent from the case! You’re bound to pick up keepsakes along the way, so you want to leave room.
See cruise: From NZ$5869 per person for a 10-night Adriatic and Med Treasures voyage on Azamara Quest, departing Venice on 16 July 2018 with guests receiving a Verandah Stateroom upgrade.
CAPTAIN MAGNUS DAVIDSON OF AZAMARA JOURNEY
FAVOURITE EUROPEAN PORT: Edinburgh (Leith), Scotland.
A favourite port of mine is my home town of Leith, Edinburgh. We dock right next to the Queen’s former Royal Yacht Britannia, and from the port it’s a short distance to the centre of Edinburgh, which in my view is the most beautiful city in the UK.
DO: From the port, it’s a 10 minute drive to the centre of Edinburgh. During the summer months when Journey visits, the city gears up for events like the Edinburgh Festival – the biggest arts festival in the world. Walk up the Royal Mile and you’ll see a whole range of wonderful historical sights – like the Palace of Holyrood House and the new Scottish Parliament buildings. At the top of the mile sits Edinburgh Castle, offering incredible views over the city.
SECRET INSIDER TIP: Prepare yourself for the one o’ clock gun fired from the castle each afternoon – it has been known to scare the daylights out of visitors (and occasionally long-time residents)!
EAT: The area of Leith – known simply as ‘The Shore’ – is a five minute walk from where the ship docks and is one of the most vibrant areas of Edinburgh, with a large number of restaurants and bars lining the river. Here you have a variety of dining options from the Michelin starred establishments of ‘The Kitchen’ and ‘Wishart’s’ to other less opulent but equally delicious choices such as ‘The Ship on the Shore’ – my favourite seafood restaurant, where the Shetland Mussels are always my first choice on the menu.
See cruise: From NZ$10,569 pp. for a 15 night ‘Journey to North Scape’ departing Edinburgh on 24 July 2018.
Azamara Club Cruises’ Upgrade Promotion allows guests to book Club Veranda staterooms at Club Interior stateroom prices on selected sailings, applicable to new bookings made between 1 September – 30 November 2017. For full terms and conditions visit www.azamaraclubcruises.com
Celebrity Cruises has savings of up to $400 and inclusion of a beverage package for two on new bookings made between 2 November – 3 December 2017, for selected sailings between 10th December 2017 – 30th April 2019. Full terms and conditions at www.celebritycruises.com.
For further information or to book a cruise call 0800 102 123