by Justin Gibson

The Best Cruise Ports You’ve Never Heard Of

Glance at any cruise itinerary, and you’re bound to see a few unfamiliar names. Whether they’re small, remote or overshadowed by a more famous neighbor, these ports may be off the beaten track, but they offer the unique opportunity to explore further and delve deeper. So next time you look at an itinerary, take a moment to embrace the unknown stops — they could be the most rewarding of all. Here’s a few of our favorite hidden gems from across the world.

The Sunnmøre Alps make for a majestic sight on the fjord.

Urke, Norway

Cruising to the tiny port of Urke, nestled at the far end of the spectacular 21-mile-long Hjørundfjord, is more about the journey than it is about the destination. Surrounded by the soaring peaks of the Sunnmøre Alps, this astoundingly beautiful fjord is guaranteed to take your breath away. You’ll pass three snowcapped mountains on the way to Urke — Slogen, Skårasalen and Kolåstind — all of which are considered national treasures. Few cruise lines sail here, adding to the sense of quiet isolation, but Hurtigruten includes the port on several of its autumn itineraries, including the 7-day Classic Cruise North.

Bandol, France

Cote d’Azur has long been one of the world’s most cosmopolitan destinations, but for those looking to escape the glitz and glam of St. Tropez and Cannes, look no further than the charming village of Bandol. Tucked into a sheltered bay not far from Marseilles, Bandol is where locals go to get away from the crowds. Known for its soft sandy beaches, open-air cafes and picturesque harbor, Bandol attracts laid-back visitors who come to enjoy the local rosé, fresh seafood and spectacular Mediterranean views. Several Seabourn itineraries stop here, including the 7-day Alluring Italy & Riviera.

Kotor, Montenegro has a serious air of "fairytale."

Kotor, Montenegro 

Considered the jewel of Montenegro, Kotor is exceptionally beautiful. Everyone from the Romans to the Venetians and Hapsburgs has left their mark here, and today, the Old Town is a UNESCO World Heritage Site celebrated for its well-preserved medieval architecture. Surrounded by the Dinaric Alps on one side and the majestic Bay of Kotor on the other, it would be hard to imagine a more fairytale-like settling for the castles, palaces, churches and squares contained within its city walls. Azamara features Kotor on multiple itineraries, including their 9-night Greek Intensive Voyage, which also stops in Santorini and Corfu.

The entire island of Elba just radiates charm.

Portoferraio, Italy

Just off the coast of Tuscany, on the small island of Elba, the charming seaside town of Portoferraio is an endearing throwback to the Italy of yesteryear. Although a popular summer destination for Italians, Portoferraio’s historic center, charming cafes and welcoming locals give the impression of a place that has yet to be discovered by the wider world. Windstar Cruises’ aptly named 17-day Star Collector: Riviera Romance & Ancient Artifacts cruise stops here for a full day, giving passengers plenty of time to enjoy a glass of local Moscato, visit Napoleon’s villa and take a dip in the warm water.

Khasab, Oman

The ancient port of Khasab is a far cry from the glittering cities of Abu Dhabi and Dubai just a few hours away. Located on the Musandam Peninsula, in the Strait of Hormuz, this remote exclave is a quiet town nestled within a stunning landscape of craggy fjords. Visitors come to explore the 17th-century Khasab Fort, dolphin watch from the decks of traditional dhows, shop in the bustling souk and experience the famous warmth of the Bedouin culture. Regent Seven Seas Cruises and Oceania Cruises both include Khasab on their world cruises, and MSC Cruises stops here on their Dubai, Abu Dhabi & India itinerary.

Does this sampling of hidden gem cruise ports inspire you to see them for yourself? Speak with one of our travel agents. Not only can they streamline your travel to the ports above (as well as many more that we couldn’t fit here), but also they can provide exclusive perks and luxe amenities with all of the leading names in the travel industry.

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