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Riviera Montenegro

Oceania Cruises Takes Travellers off the Beaten Track to Lesser Known Ports

Author: Olivia Sharpe

Published on:

Smaller ships mean exciting access to a carousel of extraordinary adventures in lesser-known spots close to home

The singular events of the last year have not only changed our handwashing, working and shopping habits, but they’ve also caused a seismic shift in the way we think and dream about travel. More of us than ever want to explore unique, off-the-beaten-path destinations that haven’t already been plastered over the Facebook feeds of everyone we know.

We’re hungry for a sense of genuine discovery; to glimpse a way of life that few others get to see, and enjoy eating and drinking alongside local communities. It’s what travel after lockdown is really all about. Fortunately, the small-ship, luxury Oceania Cruises is perfectly primed to deliver just this.

Leave no stone unturned

With its elegant, small-capacity ships (carrying between 684-1250 guests), Oceania Cruises can sail straight into smaller boutique ports that larger cruise ships can’t reach. This means that Oceania Cruises has the trump card of being able to offer wonderfully unique itineraries that you won’t find anywhere else.

Thanks to its modest-sized ships, guests can sail down the Guadalquivir river and dock right in the heart of Seville, for example, rather than having to enter Cadiz port and drive an hour or more to reach the Andalusian city, as with many other cruise companies. Fancy treading the cobbled streets of Amalfi or Sorrento? Oceania Cruises anchors directly in the bays of these two beautiful Italian villages, rather than driving from Naples. Less time spent on annoying transfers means more time uncovering local gems.

Not only will Oceania Cruises connect you with cultural treasures in lesser-trodden locations, but its immersive Go Local shore excursions also gift guests with perfectly curated travel experiences, bringing you closer to what you want from your trip. Join anything from guided wildlife walks and fishing trips to caving, wine-tasting and more. Here’s our pick of the top undiscovered ports that are getting us excited about travelling again.

INS Terrace Cafe

Tórshavn, Faroe Islands

A great port for nature lovers, the Faroe’s capital has bucketloads of stunning natural scenery, rugged shorelines and rustic villages. Found on Estreymoy Island, it’s known for its untouched way of life that has barely changed over centuries. From its green sheep pastures and turf-roofed churches to sea cliffs chattering with puffins, scenic waterfalls and majestic fjords teeming with salmon. Don’t miss the flagstoned old town, with its old wooden shops selling Faroese wool jumpers, or the chance to feast on fabulous Faroese lamb in one of the charming restaurants.

Go Local: Oceania Cruises' guests can choose to join a half-day excursion to see the ‘Natural Wonders of Northern Estreymoy’, travelling by coach to the sparsely-populated north to explore wild waters, mountain gorges, sculpted sea-stacks and Viking-founded villages. Or you may prefer to visit the island of Vágar, travelling through an undersea tunnel to reach this island curiously shaped like a dog’s head, with a fjord for a mouth and a lake for an eye.

Find out more about Oceania Cruises' Baltic/Northern Europe tours HERE.

Faroe islands

2. Paamiut, Greenland

Though almost 80 per cent of Greenland’s surface is covered by a gigantic sheet of ice 14 times the size of England, the ice-free southwest coast is peppered with unique towns to explore. One of its best is tiny Paamiut, in the Sermersooq region, perfect for exploring the local way of living in Greenland. Locals here are very friendly and welcoming, often inviting guests into their homes to see how they live. Learn about Inuit culture, feast on Greenland's national dish, suaasat, a thick, warming soup made from meat, potatoes, onion and rice. Or find out about mushing and dog-sledding traditions.

Go Local: Travellers to Paamiut with Oceania Cruises have the option of joining a fascinating walking tour, led by a Paamiut local who knows its story and residents personally. Look out for exciting wildlife as you go, including majestic soaring sea eagles and glistening whales cresting in the glass-still fjord. You’ll also have the chance to visit a workshop where sealskin is crafted into mittens and coats in classic Greenland fashion.

Find out more about Oceania Cruises' Baltic/Northern Europe tours HERE.

Greenland

3. Molde, Norway

This stunning fjord town is known as The City of Roses for its many lush rose gardens dotted around town. Climb to the top of Mt. Varden, home to an extraordinary viewpoint where you can gaze in awe over pristine, sparkling fjords and more than 222 snow-capped mountain peaks. Or drive the Atlantic Ocean Road, voted Norway’s Engineering Feat of the Century, for more knock-out panoramas as well as picturesque villages with rich and intriguing maritime histories.

Go Local: Oceania Cruises' explorers can discover incredible caves through a range of different excursions. Join a half-day tour to Bergatt Marble Caves and you’ll sail on a raft across a crystal-clear underground lake and wander through caves illuminated with coloured lights and chandeliers. Active types will love joining a group Troll Church Hike, a demanding but rewarding trail to a series of caves known as Troll Church, full of underground wonders, passages and waterfalls.

Find out more about Oceania Cruises' Baltic/Northern Europe tours HERE.

R Class Geirangerfjord Norway Mike Louagie

4. Portifino, Italy

A bucolic fishing village on the Italian Riviera coastline, this exclusive spot is beloved by the rich and famous who visit this local hideaway with their yachts. Walk the magnificent coastal paths that run like balconies overlooking the glittering sea, visit stunning terraced gardens and eco-farms bursting with olive and lemon trees, or explore the stone-hewn castle and picturesque lighthouse.

Go Local. Oceania Cruises' guests can choose to spend a magical day on a local fishing boat, watching the crew haul in the day’s catch. You will begin by cruising along the impossibly blue coast of Mount Portofino Natural Regional Park, while your captain and crew will describe a typical day on the Ligurian Sea as they fish for mackerel, bream, mullets and other species. Watch as the fishermen haul in nets and use traditional palamiti – long fishing lines with hundreds of hooks. Then dine on the day’s catch, pulled fresh from the sea, while on board your boat, and enjoy the exquisite scenery.

Find out more about Oceania Cruises' Go Local Mediterranean tours HERE.

Italy Portofino

5. Tallinn, Estonia

Often overlooked as a Baltic cruise highlight in place of St Petersburg, the beautiful, medieval town of Tallinn is split over two levels packed with fascinating old buildings, gothic treasures and great restaurants. Take in magnificent vistas of red rooftops and soaring church steeples, nosy around a 15th-century apothecary shop and explore the mysterious network of passages and tunnels that were built beneath the town's bastions during the 17-18th centuries to hide the town's ammunition and other equipment from its enemies. During the Cold War years, these tunnels became an official nuclear defence shelter.

Go Local: Join the Oceania Cruises exclusive ‘Tallinn and Old Town’ tour, which begins with a scenic drive, offering magnificent views of the medieval city walls, before checking out the watch-towers, graceful spires, winding, cobbled streets and red-gabled roofs. Drink in sights such as Palace Square, Toompea Castle, and the Russian Orthodox Alexander Nevsky Cathedral, home to a treasure trove of golden icons and intricate mosaics, before continuing to the Lower Town to browse the vibrant local market held in the grounds of the Dominican Convent. Separate, beer-tasting tours are also available in the city, where you can learn about beer making and sample some of the local craft brews.

Tallinn

6. Portimão, Portugal

Known for its photogenic old quarter, busy marina and close proximity to golden beaches, this port city in the Algarve region of Southern Portugal provides a more authentic taste of local life than many of its neighbouring tourist hotspots. Visit the Museu de Portimão, housed in a 19th-century cannery, and marvel at the vibrant azulejo tiles in the gothic-style Nossa Senhora da Conceição church. To the south of the town lies Rocha Beach, backed by ochre cliffs, and the medieval Fort of Santa Catarina de Ribamar.

Go Local: More than 2000 vineyards and almost 30 wine producers thrive in The Algarve and Oceania Cruises' guests can choose to enjoy a ‘Historical Algarve and Wine Route’ excursion to find out more. Visit a red sandstone medieval castle and gothic cathedral in nearby Silves, before touring a fascinating local wine estate to admire its lush vineyards, sip sumptuous vintages and learn about the prominent role that wine has played in the Algarve’s history.

Find out more about Oceania Cruises' Go Local Mediterranean tours HERE.

Algarve vineyard

For more information about Oceania Cruises, visit oceaniacruises.com.