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Cruise into these stunning ports and harbours

There are few people more qualified than cruise ship captains to judge the most beautiful ports and coastal destinations. From their perspective on the bridge of the various mammoth ships, they can see all the sights that are on offer when sailing in or out of a harbour - and having travelled far and wide, they have the authority of experience to know which are the most impressive.

Royal Caribbean has tapped into that wealth of knowledge and sightseeing experience by asking 23 of its captains to rate the 260 ports around the globe which are visited by their ships. Here are the top 12 most memorable views and destinations that they came up with - two of them in our own South Pacific region!

Sydney, Australia

We all know that Sydney has one of the best harbours in the world, and now it's been confirmed. It's not just the natural attractions that make this port beautiful, but the unmistakeable Opera House and Harbour Bridge. Captain Rick Sullivan who visited Sydney while working onboard the Rhapsody of the Seas called Sydney Harbour "the most iconic in the world."

Sydney Harbour

The Hubbard Glacier, Alaska

Not only this particular stunning frozen river but all Alaskan glaciers in general were highly regarded amongst the group of captains, who commented on the sheer magnitude and scale of the vistas between Disenchantment Bay and Yakutat. Captain Sindre Borsheim of the Voyager of the Seas said of the view:  "it is different every time, as the colours vary with the light."

Hubbard Glacier, Alaska

Venice, Italy

It should come as no surprise that the captains loved sailing in to Venice, widely considered one of the world's most beautiful cities. The stunning architecture and picturesque effect of canals replacing roads meant that several of those surveyed chose it as their favourite.

Venice

Geiranger Fjord, Norway

Deep blue water, plunging cliffs, snow-capped peaks, waterfalls and lush greenery - these are some great elements of a scenic cruise port, and this Norwegian fjord mixes them all together with flair. After cruising into Geiranger on the Grandeur of the Seas, captain Espen Been said poetically, "where the mountains meet the sea and the snow from the surrounding tops is mirrored, it seems like everything is blooming."

Geiranger Fjord

Stockholm Archipelago, Sweden

The many islands which make up Stockholm and surrounds are a scenic maze for ships sailing in to dock. Charming houses which Captain Espen Been says "look like dollhouses" from the bridge are interspersed with sandy coves and wooded areas for a fairytale effect as vessels make their way into the urban Stockholm city centre.

Stockholm Harbour

Vesuvius (Naples), Italy

The city of Naples in Italy is pretty enough on its own, but what really made this destination stand out for the Royal Caribbean captains is the sight of Mount Vesuvius towering over the port. It's especially beautiful with the sun rising behind it - a time when many cruise ships are sailing in to dock for the day.

Vesuvius (Naples), Italy

Golfo di Poeti, La Spezia, Italy

The bay surrounding the port city of La Spezia in Italy's Liguria region was called by Lord Byron the Bay of Poets, or Golfo di Poeti. Lined with coves and small hillside towns, it is not far from the beautiful Cinque Terre and was highly rated by the captains who commented that it was "easy to see why" Byron thought so highly of it.

Golfo di Poeti, La Spezia, Italy

Nice, France

This glamorous seaside city on the French Riviera owes its inclusion on the list to the lovely mountains which form a scenic backdrop. Captain Tomas Busto of the Adventure of the Seas counted it among his favourite ports because "when the ships arrive in the Mediterranean in April, the mountains are still snow-capped but the beaches are welcoming sunbathers."

Nice, France

Kotor, Montenegro

There are many gems along the coastlines of the Adriatic Sea, and Kotor is right up there with the best. The port is found on the shores of the deeply-indented Bay of Kotor, a stunning natural harbour made even more scenic with the addition of the historic town which climbs the surrounding slopes. Captain Lis Lauritzen of the Vision of the Seas calls it "completely different in terms of view and environment."

Kotor, Montenegro

Moorea, French Polynesia

Bora Bora is the better-known of the idyllic tropical islands around Tahiti, but Moorea was chosen as the most beautiful by the Royal Caribbean captains who love the isle's "beautiful green, jagged volcanic mountains." These are juxtaposed with peaceful sandy beaches for a truly incredible cruise destination.

Moorea

Vancouver, Canada

A cityscape with a mountain backdrop appears to be a favourite amongst the masters of the sea! Vancouver in British Columbia, frequently a departure point for Alaska cruises, has this in spades. Captain Rick Sullivan of the Explorer of the Seas particularly loves sailing under the First Narrows (Lions Gate) Bridge and into the harbour.

Vancouver

The English Channel, UK

It seems an odd destination to be on the list - in fact it is barely a destination at all! However, there are those who are very fond of this stretch of water. Captain Henrik Loft Soerensen from the Brilliance of the Seas counts it as his favourite place to be as it is "beautiful and peaceful."

sunset over the sea

Written By: Sarah Glover, Content Editor of Cruise Sale Finder

I have enjoyed visiting as much of the world as possible over the years. Europe and the Mediterranean are personal favourites, but there is so much to see very close to our little Australasian corner of the globe- one of my top travel experiences was snorkeling with tropical fish and turtles in New Caledonia! Cruising is a fantastic way to see it all, and we hope to make booking a cruise easier for both first-timers and old salts. From ship tips to destination news and views, we will keep you up-to-date. Happy cruising!

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