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Imagine cruising to any destination of your dreams. What would your dream destination be? Would you select your destination based on historical and architectural sightseeing, beaches and water sports or just to have a huge party? Let me take you on a journey to different destinations definitely worth a cruise visit.
When visiting Mauritius you can look forward to sipping on high ball cocktails while relaxing at one of the top 10 beaches in Mauritius with their white beaches and blue waters. If you are looking for more adventure and want to try something new, take a tour to Tamarin Beach and get ready for your first surfari (surfing safari).
While visiting Mauritius, why not organize a small wedding ceremony on the beach or renew your vows on this breathtaking island.
If you are running on a tight budget, but want to experience true island vibes, Portuguese Island is the place to visit. Passengers cruising with MSC will have a braai on the beach with fun activities like volleyball and touch rugby. Relax in the sand or challenge your buddies for a swim competition in the warm waters of the Indian Ocean.
You will also have a selection of fun excursions to book like paintball, speedboat rides, snorkelling and deep sea fishing.
A visit to Maputo is a true cultural experience with rich Portuguese architecture and a number of historical buildings. A lot of the buildings got damaged during the civil and colonial war and failure to rehabilitate that led to new buildings being built to replace the old once.
A few kilometres away from Maputo you will find Inhambane (Land of good people). If you are looking forward to snorkelling, catamaran adventures, quad biking and a selection of traditional cuisine, you will truly enjoy a visit to Inhambane.
If you saw the hit animation “Madagascar”, this island needs no introduction. For the people not familiar with Melma, Marty, Alex and Gloria, Madagascar is known for its diverse ecosystems and wildlife. 90% of the wildlife found on this island is found nowhere else on earth making this destination perfect to explore the nature wonders of the world.
Remember to pack your walking shoes as its suggested to explore this island on a hiking trail or on top of a bicycle.
Now when you hear the word Caribbean, images of white beaches and blue oceans pop up.If you are thinking fun, the first things to come to mind are tasty cocktails, hot bodies and colourful umbrellas.
Once you arrive in Barbados you are welcomed by the smell of sugar! Barbados hosts one of the largest sugar plantations in the Caribbean. Don’t worry. sugarcanes isn't the only pride of Barbados. Grammy Award winner Rianna was born on this rural island of the Caribbean and I do believe her song “Umbrella” was written in Barbados, as it’s not unusual for thunder showers to surprise you while you are chilling out on the beach. Not that it’s a bad thing. It’s actually a blessing as you can expect temperatures of around 35 c in the winter.
When visiting Barbados, it's a must to visit the “Boat Yard”, a local pub, restaurant and private beach. Imagine hundreds of beach chairs and orange umbrellas decorating the beach, karaoke in the sand and some kind of wet t-shirt competition going on in the bar. Still don’t know if the last event was real or if it was the “Shark Bite Cocktail” that made me see things.
How to make a Shark Bite Cocktail:
St Maarten, a place that feels like home! Pancakes sold on the beach, Blue Bitch Burgers at a local restaurant served with coleslaw and a slice of watermelon instead of fries! This Island hosts a variety of water sports and activities plus a wide selection of restaurants and pubs. If you’re in the mood for a massage and a day on the beach, but cannot decide which one to do, simply do both, as local masseuse run their businesses on the beach and give the best relaxing massage right there on the beach.
This island is also great for shopping! Tommy Hilfiger, Bvlgari, Lacoste and Swarovski boutiques will certainly make a dent in your vacation budget. St Maarten is also known for affordable appliances and gadgets, so if you are looking for a new camera, Black or Blueberry, you can find them at very good prices on this island.
When visiting St Maarten, make sure to visit the beach right next to the airport for an experience you won’t forget. Check this out!
You will never be bored on this island! Entertainment, shopping and exploring! If you have been away from South Africa too long and crave a glass of Ceres juice or a glass of KWV or Robertson’s red wine, you can do so by visiting the Gourmet Food Gallery right on the harbour. If you are looking to explore something different, you can always walk to the business strip, around Nelson Mandela Circle and explore hundreds of buzzing restaurants, shops, tattoo parlours, piercing clinics and more.
The marine lovers can take a shuttle to Coral Park to swim with sea lions, walk on the bottom of the ocean or just to explore the marine life. Bird lovers can go up to Paradise Point and discover some species unique to this island. Not only is Paradise Point good for bird lovers, the view and restaurant are just spectacular, plus it’s a great place for some souvenirs.
Food glorious food and diamonds are a girl’s best friend! If you are in the hunt for jewellery, diamonds or something for the display cabinet, you will love this island. Diamonds International, Tanzanite International, John Bull and Columbian Emeralds International are some of the jewellery stores that will greet you on the popular Bay Street. Remember to compare the prices with the prices offered in the ship’s duty free shops as the items onboard can be cheaper at times.
Athena Cafe & Bar is also worth a visit with great Greek cuisine at affordable prices.
I don’t know how to start this section as Mexico brings back so many memories and great experiences. One thing I am certain about is that you will have a cultural experience like no other. You will taste foods and drinks you have never tasted before in your life. I spent Christmas in Mexico and it was so nice to see streetlights and stop signs decorated with tinsel and piñatas; with Mexican street performers playing and singing Spanish Christmas Carols.
Ensenada is located a few kilometres away from one of the most dangerous cities in the world, Tijuana, but don’t let this scare you as Ensenada has hundreds of activities to offer.
Take a horse ride through the vineyards or through the rocky landscapes with breathtaking views.
A place worth a visit is La Bufadora. La Bufadora is a marine geyser located in Ensenada that pushes trapped water and air through a sea cave resulting the water to explode meters high in the air. La Bufadora is one of the largest marine geysers (Blow Holes) in North America and can shoot water higher than 30 metres above sea level. Not only will you see this spectacular water display, you will also be welcomed by local musicians and crafters making this visit a must.
For the party animals Mango Mango and Papa’s and Beer are some of the well known pubs to visit. If you like doing tequila shots hanging upside down from the roof or on top of Captain Libra’s shoulders, you will love these places. Mango Mango will allow you to drink beer like never before... this involves a long pipe, Captain Libra standing on the third level of the building and a couple of beers being poured in the pipe for the person standing on the ground floor to drink. Now, don’t think this is an easy task as the force of the beer will make it rather difficult to swallow. If you spill beer, you pay, if not, well then the beer is on the house!
What a beautiful place to visit!
Hire a Jeep and explore the island by yourself as it will be possible for you to drive around the whole island in just a few hours. Be sure to visit the Mayan Ruins to explore this historical city and buildings. Remember to pack lots of water, good walking shoes and bug spray as this activity will require lots of physical exercise and with the Mexican Heat you will definitely need to take lots of water.
After an exhausting visit to the Mayan Ruins you can always cool off with a refreshing cocktail at Fat Tuesdays, Three Amigo’s or No Name bar. If you want to take a swim in the crystal clear waters of Cozumel, why not spice it up a bit and add some dolphins or stingrays in the mix? Dolphinaris is located walking distance from the cruise terminal and is a once in a life time experience to feed, pet, train, kiss and swim with dolphins!
The popular No Name bar is a restaurant and pool bar owned by a South African couple and is the hub for crew members from all different ships to get together and catch up with friends working on other ships.
The home of Key Lime Pie and world renowned writers and musicians. This cultural, beautiful and clean town is located on the coast of Florida and offers something for everyone. Being a gay and lesbian friendly town you will be introduced to a number of gay restaurants and beaches creating a friendly atmosphere for same sex couples.
Pay a visit to the Key West Toy Factory, Aquarium, Ripley’s Museum or hit the shopping mecca. Have a good look at the menus of restaurants as to my shock, I have discovered a few of them serving dolphin. I am all about trying new food, but this is a big no-no for me.
Be sure to visit the Hemingway house, the house of renowned writer Ernest Hemingway or the Original Margaritaville, the restaurant of singer Jimmie Buffet.
Take a drive to the historic city of Rome and be dazzled by ancient history and architecture. Be sure to visit the Colosseum and the Vatican City, but don’t forget to swing by the Arch of Constantine and the Trevi Fountain.
The Trevi Fountain, build 251 years ago by Giuseppe Pannini, is situated in the Trevi district and is almost 27 metres high and 50 metres wide, making it the largest Baroque fountain in the city and the most famous in the world. It is believed that if you throw a coin in this fountain that you will return to Rome someday. Around the fountain you have a selection of restaurants selling top notch Italian cuisine and wine.
The Colosseum is known as the largest amphitheatre in the world and is considered as one of the greatest works of Roman architecture. It once hosted between 50 000 and 80 000 spectators for gladiatorial contests, battles and dramas This large structure was built many years ago under the reign of Titus. Although the Colosseum is not in use as an amphitheatre anymore, it is still one of the biggest tourist attractions in Rome.
I would recommend paying a visit to the Vatican City and especially St Peter’s Basillica. If you like art, it is not a recommendation, but a must. The Sistine Chapel is definitely the highlight as it includes artwork by Perugino, Botticelli and the popular ceiling artwork and “Last Judgement” by Michelangelo.
Take a train to Pisa and enjoy a pizza or baguette with the Leaning Tower of Pisa creating the perfect backdrop for a romantic ... or basically any special moment. Take a walk and browse through the local crafts and souvenirs.
The Leaning Tower of Pisa is a freestanding bell tower of the Cathedral in Pisa and is known worldwide for its noticeable 3.99 degree tilt. Today it is one of the structures most photographed by photographers and tourist.
If towers and pizzas aren’t for you, why not take a taxi or train for some shopping in the shopping capital of the world, Milan... just make sure you have enough money left to pay for a taxi back to the ship.
I always had a dream of going to Hollywood and taking a picture in front of the Hollywood sign and about 3 years ago I was lucky enough to visit Hollywood, a lifelong dream coming true. When I arrived, I was excited, nervous, emotional and ... disappointed. Arriving in Venice however exceeded any expectations I ever had visiting a new destination. The “city of love” overwhelmed me with friendly people, culture, food and just a feeling I cannot put in words!
Take a gondola ride on the historic water streets of Venice while sipping on a glass of Prosecco and being serenaded by the gondolier.
Rather just sit back, relax and have a look for yourself as this city makes me speechless.