It’s a great big world, so it’s no surprise that while there are numerous cruise ship ports that are beloved by travelers — and plenty that have both lovers and haters — others are generally regarded as awful. Based on the analysis of responses from members of Cruiseline.com, here are six ports around the world they are least likely to recommend:
Prince Rupert has not yet adapted to the influx of tourism. - Photo by Sirius79 / Shutterstock
Perhaps because it’s mist-shrouded natural approaches — alive with whales, eagles, and grizzly bears — are so awe-inspiring, the Canadian port of Prince Rupert, serving an economically struggling city that shows a bit too much of its commercial fishing and mill town roots, leaves many cruise passengers looking more forward to departure than arrival. It does have its attractions — the shore excursion to Canada’s only grizzly bear sanctuary is enormously popular — but if you’re looking for a port to skip in favor of the spa on your Alaskan cruise, this may be the one.
"This is the worst port I have ever been to. We had great weather (unusual for this town) but nothing to do. We visited the Safeway and the Seven-Eleven" - PauletteB2
2. Bari, Italy
Bari is pleasant, but rather boring compared to other Italian ports. - Photo by peuceta / Shutterstock
The nice often do finish last, as illustrated by this southern port on Italy’s east coast, which members claim to love less than any other in Europe. Perfectly pleasant, it suffers in large part because Italy has so much more to offer, especially since many cruise ship passengers arrive after having just visited Venice. A 15-minute walk from the ship, the town center (with apologies to the Basilica di San Nicola) has relatively little architectural or historical appeal. You would do best to stroll around on your own for an hour or two and save your euros for Santorini or Dubrovnik.
"We did not do a tour and just walked around the city. It has an interesting castle, but is otherwise a boring stop. I would not choose a cruise again that wastes a day stopping here.” – JonG3
Don't expect a warm welcome at this shady port. - Photo by Angela N Perryman / Shutterstock
English is little spoken, which you would expect on a very French island like Martinique, but not on shore excursions presumably designed with a fair number of Americans in mind. Fort-de-France’s main dock area doubles as a cargo terminal and, through its grime, shows it. The town is a good hike away, past sketchy areas where drug use seems evident. And, on Sundays, almost everything is closed.
"We had high expectations of this historic island. After all, it was the site of the Mt. Pelee volcanic explosion in 1902, which killed more than 20,000 people. It also was the birthplace of Napoleon’s mistress and wife, Josephine. We found the capital seedy and vaguely threatening, reminiscent of an old Graham Greene novel. We were cheated out of the few purchases we made, and our friends encountered the same treatment.” – Dr.L
Reaching the city center is no easy feat. - Photo by SF Photo / Shutterstock
For cruise ship passengers who venture ashore here, at a sparse facility a long ride down the coast from La Romana, the poverty and overly aggressive vendor hustling are apparent. Yet what cruise passengers complain about most is the difficulty of getting from their ship to the resort area of Casa de Campo, with its shopping, restaurants, and even golf. And to make matters worse, you have to sign up for a shore excursion, or Casa de Campo won’t even let you in the gate.
"Scary — felt very nervous and hounded." - Jodym
Cayo Levantado is beautiful, Samana is less so. - Photo by Don Mammoser / Shutterstock
Some sleight of hand is going on here, because while the Dominican Republic’s tiny private island of Cayo Levantado might be listed as your port, most ships anchor in Samana Bay, off the city of Samana. Even more than La Romana, Samana is commonly criticized for being dirty and crime-ridden, with levels of poverty that shock cruise visitors. Although to be fair (Are you listening, tourism officials?), that’s probably because they haven’t seen some of the rest of the Dominican Republic.
"The poverty here is striking and although some do cruise to see more of the world as it really is, the Discover Samana tour was a sad experience. We wished that for the enjoyment we had gone to spend the day at the all-inclusive resort, which was one of the tours offered. Hard to ‘vacation’ amid such sadness.” – ElinorK
It doesn't look any more inviting after you disembark. - Photo by Creative Jen Designs / Shutterstock
The comedian on your ship might make a joke along the lines of "Ensenada is Spanish for stay on the ship." The thing is, it's not really a joke, it's sage advice. There's very little to see or do in this town that exists as a cruise port primarily because of an outdated legal requirement that cruises from the US stop at a foreign destination.You'll likely be wowed by the huge Mexican flag as you sail in, so take a good look - it's the best thing the port has to offer. If you must go ashore, head to El Bufadora blowhole as it's the only excursion worth doing. Then, get back to the ship and enjoy a little extra time at the pool.
"This town was not like the Caribbean ports I was used to. A short walk off of the ship brings you a main street filled with sidewalks of aggressive shopkeepers, rentals, handbills, and beggars. Strolling this gauntlet can be pretty exhausting. Initially, the wife wanted to escape in a taxi to somewhere, but reconsidered after getting generally creeped-out by the number of military personnel armed with rifles that they seemed to have a lot of out in this town too." – CMHcruiser