SAN DIEGO, CALIFORNIA
Who goes there: Celebrity Cruises, Crystal Cruises , Holland America Line Disney Cruise Line, Norwegian Cruise Line, Royal Caribbean.
Cruisers like: The sunny city of San Diego has resplendent beaches, world-class cultural experiences, a thriving culinary scene and more. For a taste of culture, Balboa Park is a walkable collection of 15 excellent museums set amid enchanting gardens and inviting theaters and cafés. The park includes the San Diego Museum of Art, the San Diego Air and Space Museum, and the 200-foot-tall California Tower with views into Mexico, just 30 kilometres away. Hip, hilly, and historic, Little Italy is a great place to find a pasta meal, and visit the lively Mercato Farmers’ Market. The buzzy Gaslamp Quarter is an epicenter for dining and nightlife where Victorian-era structures live beside skyscrapers. Sip a cocktail at a rooftop bar while enjoying views of the bay. Beer lovers can explore the booming craft beer scene on a tasting tour. Then hit the beaches – glamorous Pacific Beach embodies the quintessential Southern California vibe. Ocean Beach Municipal Pier lets you walk almost a half-mile out to sea. Stop in for a lobster taco at down-home OB Pier Café. Don’t miss Birch Aquarium, San Diego’s Museum of Contemporary Art, and the public murals at La Jolla. From the cliffs above La Jolla Cove, watch pelicans and seals, or set off to kayak or snorkel the fascinating sea caves. San Diego is also a top destination for animal lovers. The San Diego Zoo runs the Safari Park, where cheetahs, giraffes, lions, and 300 other species roam. At SeaWorld, dolphins put on shows. La Jolla’s Casa Beach is home base for a colony of 200 harbor seals.
Best for: Foodies, families, couples, young singles.
Getting around: The Port of San Diego is right next to the airport and a short drive from downtown – shuttles make the trip frequently and cabs are readily available. The city has an excellent public transport system with trams, buses and shuttles. Or hop in a pedicab or horse-drawn carriage to explore the historic Gaslamp district.
LOS ANGELES, CALIFORNIA
Who goes there: Princess Cruises, Carnival Cruise Line, Norwegian Cruise Line, Royal Caribbean, Silversea, Seabourn, Azamara Club Cruises, Crystal Cruises, Cunard Line, Celebrity CruisesA, Disney Cruise Line.
Cruisers like: This Mecca of fun in the sun is an excellent departure port for a cruise. Los Angeles, California, known as “The City of Angels”, is the warm and sunny home of Hollywood, with a culture as rich as it is diverse. Explore neighbourhoods of artists, actors and writers, hippies, the super rich and Latin quarters. Stroll along Venice beach and see buskers and sunbathers, maybe even spot an A-list celebrity or two. Shop ‘till you drop in Beverley Hills on Rodeo Drive. Dine on amazing Mexican food, healthy “super food” or grab a booth for some classic diner delights. See the movie industry’s hub firsthand – stroll along the Hollywood Walk of Fame and jump on a bus to hunt down all of the stars homes hidden throughout Los Angeles. Hike up into the hills to see the Hollywoood sign and gaze out over the sprawling city. Nature lovers will love exploring the rocky desert wilderness of Joshua Tree National Park, or hitting the nearby ski slopes. Music aficionados will find what they’re looking for as well, as Los Angeles is home to the Los Angeles Music Centre, amazing Walt Disney Concert Hall and the famous Los Angeles Philharmonic. You’ll also find many intriguing museums, like the LA County Museum of Art or the Museum of Contemporary Art. Long Beach Waterfront boasts the regal Queen Mary and spectacular Aquarium of the Pacific as well as live shows, music and excellent dining including P. F. Chang, Outback Steakhouse, Famous Dave’s, Tokyo Wako, Chili’s, Boston’s the Gourmet Pizza and Bubba Gump Shrimp Co.. It’s also a short distance from Disneyland, Universal Studios Hollywood and everything Southern California has to offer
Best for: Film and culture buffs, shopping fans, families, singles.
Getting around: Cruisers will arrive at one of two terminals. San Pedro is 25 miles from LAX. There is an old fashioned red trolley, “Waterfront Red Car Line” that runs 1.5 miles along Harbor Boulevard. Long Beach Carnival Cruise Terminal is close to the airport and there is plenty to do and see within walking distance. Many cruise lines and hotels offer shuttles, however if you need a cab, use an online taxi fare estimator to figure out fares first.
SAN FRANCISCO, CALIFORNIA
Who goes there: Crystal Cruises, Celebrity Cruises, Cunard Line, Disney Cruise Line, Holland America, Norwegian Cruise Line, Oceania Cruises, P&O World Cruises, Princess Cruises, Regent Seven Seas, Royal Caribbean, Silversea.
Cruisers like: San Francisco is a unique and breathtaking metropolis. From the famous icon of the Golden Gate Bridge to the exquisite art galleries at SFMOMA, San Fran offers unrivalled attractions, renowned museums, and unique neighborhoods which are treasures of their own, reflecting the city’s great ethnic and cultural diversity. San Francisco’s Chinatown precinct is said to be the largest Chinatown outside China. Find countless dim sum restaurants or take a walking tour to a herbal pharmacy, a fortune-cookie factory, a Buddhist temple and a traditional tea ceremony. The Haight-Ashbury neighbourhood, birthplace of the hippy movement, is worth visiting to recall the flower-power ’60s. You’ll see everything from tie-dye-wearing locals to neo-punks. Locals love the Ferry Plaza Farmers Markets at the beautiful Ferry Building on the Embarcadero. Buy an organic coffee and talk to the farmers. Don’t miss visiting the historic prison on Alcatraz Island and Fisherman’s Wharf, take a cable-car ride and shop in Union Square.
Best for: Foodies, shoppers, walkers and cyclists, history buffs.
Getting around: Both cruise terminals are within walking distance of downtown San Francisco. Public transport includes the famous San Francisco cable cars as well as the BART train, Caltrain and SamTrans services. The city is also the home of ridesharing app Uber, so it’s easy and affordable to get a private car or taxi.
Who goes there: American Safari Cruises , Columbia River Adventures, Cruise West, Adventure Cruises, National Geographic Expeditions, Portland Spirit River Cruises
Cruisers like: Whether you enjoy strolling around the riverside, visiting unique coffee houses and bookstores or trekking to the nation’s largest urban wilderness (the 5,000 acre Forest Park), a visit to Portland will delight you. Set at the confluence of the Willamette and Columbia rivers, Portland, Oregon moves at an easygoing pace, and its friendly, laid-back atmosphere soon rubs off on visitors. It’s one of America’s best walking and cycling towns. Cruise passengers will enjoy strolling to explore microbreweries and art galleries, and the “City of Roses’” 37,000 acres of parkland. Points of interest near Portland Port are the Bagdad Theatre and Pub, Hollywood Theatres, Rocky Butte State Park, Oregon Museum of Science and Industry and the Pioneer Courthouse along with popular restaurants serving local delicacies and cuisine.
Best for: River cruise fans, countryside tourists, walkers and cyclists
Getting around: Cruise passengers meet at the Embassy Suites Portland Airport hotel and are shuttled to their cruise ships. The hotel is directly adjacent to the airport and complimentary buses run between the two. Central Portland is a 30-minute drive away or there is a train station a short distance from the hotel. Once in the city there are buses, streetcars and a light rail network.
Who goes there: American Cruise Line, Carnival Cruise Line, Celebrity Cruises, Disney Cruise Line, Holland America Line, Norwegian Cruise Line, Princess Cruises, Royal Caribbean.
Cruisers like: The Seattle Waterfront is a bustling collection of attractions, restaurants and shopping, as well as starting points for ferries, cruise ships and boat tours, for example to the Native American Tillicum Village on Blake Island. Travel by ferry around the Puget Sound and take in the Olympic and Cascade mountains, the Seattle cityscape and the green shorelines. You can even tour Seattle by land and water on a WWII amphibious landing craft. Seattle’s most famous attraction is the Space Needle, built for the 1962 World’s Fair. Ride the 41-second elevator to the top and enjoy a meal at SkyCity, the revolving restaurant 520 feet above the city. Animal lovers can see more than 300 different species at Woodland Park Zoo, and meet Alki the sea otter at the Seattle Aquarium. Learn about the lives of salmon at the world’s first aquarium-based salmon ladder. Shoppers will love Pike Place Market, with hundreds of crafts and farmer booths – plus street performers and musicians. By night, Seattle’s famous music scene comes alive downtown. Visit any of 80 lively hotspots for a blend of rock, pop, jazz, country and hip-hop influences.
Best for: Foodies, music fans, families
Getting around: Smith Cove Cruise Terminal is located at the north end of Seattle’s waterfront, just 10 minutes from the city’s retail core and famous Space Needle. The Bell Street Pier Cruise Terminal stretches along Seattle’s downtown waterfront, within walking distance to town. Pick-up service to and from the both cruise terminals is available. Taxi service to the airport is a 20 – 30 minute drive. Tour Seattle at your own pace on the Hop-On / Hop-Off Double Decker buses.