Some cruise ports stay in the mind forever because the location makes a big impact, be it a stunning bay, an exceptional city view, or a landscape that adds an indelible "wow" factor to arrivals or departures by sea.Cruise Guide:
Ports in Istanbul, San Francisco, Rio de Janeiro, New York, and Sydney all come to mind. So, too, does Venice, a city built on 117 small islands connected by 150 canals and 409 bridges.
But soon Venice may drop off cruise aficionados' "wow" list because there is talk that the Italian city's cruise passenger terminal will move to the mainland.
A proposal is under discussion by Venice's city fathers following reports that waves created by the wake of today's mega ships (some carry 3000-plus passengers) are eroding the foundations of this World Heritage-listed city.
It does not help that many buildings alongside the city's canals are already tottering from old age as well as damage from frequent floods.
In recent years, there has been a big increase in the number of cruise ships sailing into Venice.
Venice Port Authority's most recent annual figures show more than two million tourists arriving in more than 500 ships - and that's not counting the numerous ferries that arrive daily from European ports.
Cruise ports with visual impact are scattered across the globe, though it is hard to go past San Francisco and that city's stunning Golden Gate Bridge. An elegant ribbon-like suspension bridge, it stretches 2.7km across the bay, and is more orange than gold in colour but it glows spectacularly when the sun kisses it. The same could be said for the expansive vista of Sydney Harbour where the bridge and Opera House are internationally recognisable icons.
Further afield, Rio de Janeiro is another unforgettable port with its giant statue of Christ the Redeemer overlooking the city. Rio's infamous slums cling to hillsides with high-rise towers below that are bordered by a seemingly endless strip of bleached sand that takes in Copacabana and Ipanema beaches.
Small by comparison, but just as memorable, are ports on the Greek islands, particularly Mykonos and Santorini, for striking blue domes atop dazzling white buildings and narrow alleys curling between pretty villas with window boxes full of colourful flowers and small busy boutiques propped beside busy harbours.
New York is right up there in "wow" factor with the Statue of Liberty, the Empire State Building and the towering skyscrapers of Manhattan all sighted from the Hudson River en route to the city that doesn't sleep. Istanbul is another visual feast with Europe on one side of the Bosphorus and Asia on the other, and a skyline on both sides filled with exquisite domes and spires of so many mosques and palaces. China's Shanghai also boasts an exciting vista with towering buildings and a plethora of neon lights beside a busy waterway.
And who could ignore the Middle East with stunning vistas of rolling deserts, historic forts, rocky fjord-like terrain and state-of-the-art architecture while sailing into Dubai, Abu Dhabi and the less touristy cities of Oman?Abu Dhabi recently boosted its campaign to become a major cruise hub in the Gulf region with the opening of a new tented passenger terminal at its Mina Zayed Port. MSC Cruises' luxury liner Lirica is based there until late April with seven night sailings to Muscat and Khasbah in Oman, and to Fujairah and Dubai in the Emirates.
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