Shores of the world: Ancient ports and modern cruises

Cruises may be all about the convenience and luxury of modern travel, but they’re also a brilliant way to experience some of the oldest port cities in the world. Central Asian and Eastern Mediterranean cruises offer a particularly fascinating look into the past., so if you want more from a holiday than flip flops and beach umbrellas, consider a cruise itinerary with one or more of the following ports of call:

Muttrah Muscat in Oman

Muscat, Oman

Oman’s vibrant capital will seduce you from the instant you step foot on its sandy shores. Whilst this ancient city dates back to the 6th millennium BCE, it’s incredibly modern, with opulent mansions, luxury hotels and trendy restaurants around every corner.

The city does provide plenty of opportunities to peak into its past, however. During your visit, be sure to check out ‘Old Muscat’, a quiet corner of the city, tucked beneath jagged mountains and protected by restored city walls.

Birds over Gateway of India

Mumbai, India

Colourful, captivating and unarguably chaotic, Mumbai must be experienced to be fully understood. No amount of travel guide reading or Googling can prepare you for the whirlwind that is this frenetic port city.

India’s largest city simply cannot be put into a box. From open air bazaars and ornate temples to modern skyscrapers and swanky nightclubs, Mumbai has it all. For a real treat, book tickets to see a show at the Prithvi Theatre, the legendary Mumbai performing arts institution.

The Bosporus or Bosphorus

Istanbul, Turkey

Known as Constantinople during most of its history, Turkey’s largest city is also often described as the place ‘where East meets West’. From some angles, the city feels quite European, with a cutting-edge fashion and design culture. In other ways, Istanbul is distinctly Middle Eastern, with its Byzantine heritage and a culture deeply-rooted in the Islamic faith.

A tour of Istanbul isn’t complete without a visit to the stunning Suleymaniye Mosque, the 500-year-old Grand Bazaar and the very unique Basilica Cistern (the city’s ancient water-storage facility).

Limassol in Cyprus

 Limassol, Cyprus

Situated on the small Mediterranean island of Cyprus, Limassol has everything you’d want from a typical beach holiday destination, but with the added bonus of a truly fascinating history.

This beautiful Cypriot port is home to an ancient castle, built by Byzantines around 1000 AD, that is supposedly where Richard the Lionheart held his wedding ceremony. Another must-see attraction is the city’s archaeological museum containing rare artefacts dating back to the Neolithic period.

These are just some of the enthralling destinations available on today’s contemporary cruise itineraries. Never before have the world’s most exotic ports been so accessible. So what are you waiting for? Get exploring!

Melissa Moore has been writing about travel for seven years, after a trip to Greece made her decide to see more of the world. When she’s not writing or adventuring, she likes to cook and indulge in some amateur photography.

 Images by Bilal Sarwar, Swaminathan, Senol Demir and Leonid Mamchenkov used under creative commons license.   

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