Best Cruise Destinations for History
Taking a cruise with a focus on history can land you almost anywhere in the world. You may end up on an excursion to a World War I battlefield in Ypres, Belgium, in the Viking Ship Museum in Oslo, exploring archeological ruins in South America, or crawling through Vietnam’s Cu Chi Tunnels.
Ports of call of interest to history buffs may include Yangon, in Myanmar, and Dubrovnik, in Croatia. Forbes has described Myanmar as a “time capsule of British colonial treasures”, while Dubrovnik’s 13th century Old Town has UNESCO World Heritage Site status.
Egypt is another must-see destination for the history enthusiast, with the Great Pyramids of Giza, the Sphinx, Luxor Temple and a heritage tour of Alexandria among its attractions. (However, check government travel advisories before booking.) It’s possible to see some of these historic sites on standard cruise itineraries, but many cruise lines offer specialised history cruises with experts to guide and deliver onboard seminars.
What will you see?
Museums, galleries, palaces, castles, antiquities, architectural marvels, battlefields, and the homes of classical composers, poets, painters and writers.
Most likely destinations
Three of the best destinations
1. St Petersburg
Visit historic landmarks of this imperial city such as the gold-domed St Isaac’s Cathedral, the Church of the Savior on Blood, the Faberge Museum, Alexander Pushkin’s apartment/museum, the Summer Palace and the State Hermitage Museum. The Hermitage, founded by Catherine the Great, has three million items of art and culture, including works by Picasso, da Vinci and Rembrandt. But that’s just the tip of the history to be found in St Petersburg, where the tsars once lived and ruled. Holland America Line, Princess Cruises and Viking Cruises are just some of the cruise lines that offer itineraries to St Petersburg.
Italy is a treasure trove of history, from Renaissance Florence to the ruins of Pompeii and the Colosseum in Rome. Highlights of the architectural masterpiece that is Venice include the Doge’s Palace, St Mark’s Basilica, the Torre dell’Orologio clock tower, the Rialto Bridge, and the Peggy Guggenheim Collection, which includes works by Salvador Dali. And don’t forget to take a gondola ride along the Grand Canal to eyeball the historic buildings, as well as visiting Murano, where glass making has been a tradition since the 13th century.
The Greek capital is often included on history cruises that tour in the region, stopping at Mykonos in the Greek islands, Turkey and Italy. Athens’ treasures include the Acropolis, the Acropolis Museum, the Parthenon, Hadrian’s Gate and the Temple of Athena Nike. You can visit Greece on a cruise with Royal Caribbean International, Costa Cruises, MSC Cruises and many other lines.
A moment to remember
More and more New Zealanders are making the pilgrimage to Gallipoli. Cruise lines offer a variety of trips there, which may include the Anzac Day Dawn Service and tours of the Gallipoli Peninsula to see the trenches and memorials.
Who will take you there
Voyages to Antiquity offer historic cruise itineraries of the Mediterranean, Africa, India and Southeast Asia. Azamara Club Cruises, Avalon Waterways, APT and Regent Seven Seas also have historic & cultural itineraries on offer.
If your cruise is designed specifically for history buffs it will be sure to have a busy schedule of enrichment programs bringing to life the sites that you visit on shore excursions.
If you are going ashore independent of ship-organised excursions, a licensed tour guide can be a handy asset to show you the key exhibits at large galleries and museums.