20 TOP CRUISE PORTS FOR YACHT SPOTTING
Though we’ll likely never own a 150-foot-plus megayacht with all the amenities imaginable, it’s never stopped us from yacht-watching in cruise ports around the world. Whether they’re ogled from our ship’s balcony, during a stroll along the water, or out in a harbor, there’s just something special about a sleek superyacht docked in a world-class marina or anchored out in the calm harbor. » Of course, most upscale marinas around the world are private and don’t allow just anyone to come traipsing into their privileged world. But that doesn’t mean there aren’t opportunities to get up-close and personal with multimillion-dollar yachts by using salt-encrusted and well-worn binoculars, some friendly charm at certain marina gates, and even kayaking your way out into the harbor for a closer look. » Though there are dozens of picturesque marinas around the world, here are 20 top cruise destinations that feature serious yachting cultures for those, like us, with yacht-spotting fixations.
MONTE CARLO, MONACO
With more millionaires per square mile than anywhere else on land or sea on any given day, Monte Carlo’s sparkling harbor is simply superyacht heaven. The convenient cruise ship terminal is literally right next to the yacht harbor in Port Hercules. For a meal with a view of yachts, locals and visitors alike head to Quai des Artistes brasserie. Water-lovers will also want to visit the Musée Océanographique — a huge aquarium and maritime museum. Those lucky enough to be in Monte Carlo in late September will also want to attend the megayacht-centric Monaco Yacht Show in Port Hercules.
» It didn’t take living in Miami Beach or watching Miami Vice reruns to remind us that the Miami yachting scene is something that has to be seen to be believed. Superyachts from around the world congregate in Miami year-round, but they’re especially prevalent during Miami’s warm winters. The marinas near Miami’s bustling port play host to numerous celebrities and their yachts, while February’s Miami International Boat Show is a star-studded affair — where the yachts are the stars.
Fort Lauderdale, Florida
» Located in the “Venice of America,” where more than 40,000 yachts are registered, Port Everglades provides another perfect pre- or post-cruise area to view South Florida’s resident and visiting yachts. Like departures from the Port of Miami, leaving Port Everglades on a cruise ship often includes some great yacht-watching from the ship’s decks or balconies. Plus, November’s Fort Lauderdale International Boat Show gets us even more up-close and personal with yachts from around the corner or around the world.
It didn’t take watching Miami Vice reruns to remind us that the Miami yachting scene is something that has to be seen to be believed.
Newport, Rhode Island
» No port in America “says” yachting more than boat-crazed Newport. Visiting cruise ship passengers can simply head to the waterfront and enjoy gazing at yachts in the marinas, yacht clubs, or anchored out in the harbor. Nautical knickknacks abound in Newport at various town shops, and yacht-watchers will definitely want to head to the Museum of Yachting, situated on the campus of the International Yacht Restoration School. Of course, September’s Newport International Boat Show brings out the best in the town’s yachting culture.
St. Thomas, United States Virgin Islands
» Home base of the Virgin Islands Charter Yacht League and a host of busy marinas and picture-perfect harbors, St. Thomas is one of many Caribbean ports of call that features seemingly constant yacht-watching from cruise ships and on land. Easily reached from Havensight Pier, Yacht Haven Grande Marina is a great destination for admiring a wide variety of yachts.
St. Maarten/St. Martin
» Combine Dutch St. Maarten’s busy cruise terminal and pier with St. Martin’s oh-so-French style and you have some serious superyachts coming to one of the most popular boating regions in the world — including ritzy St. Barts and quiet Anguilla for more great yach togling. The yachts in Simpson Bay Lagoon and in marinas and harbors all around the island make it easy to see an abundance of floating luxury.
San Diego, California
» San Diego’s bustling waterfront features numerous local and visiting yachts, just steps from the B Street Cruise Ship Terminal. Set in the shadows of the cruise ships, the Embarcadero waterfront district features the Maritime Museum of San Diego, with a world-class collection of ships that includes the 1863 Star of India — said to be the oldest active sailing vessel in the world and worth the price of admission on its own. America’s Cup fans will definitely want to visit, and possibly sail on Stars & Stripes USA—11, which Dennis Conner captained during San Diego’s America’s Cup in 1992.
VANCOUVER, BRITISH COLUMBIA
North of the border in waterside Vancouver, summertime lures local and visiting yachts in droves. The harbor and marinas near the Canada Place cruise ship terminal are typically filled with sun-starved boaters, while the Vancouver Maritime Museum and the Maritime Market on Granville Island provide pursuits for all things nautical.
Situated just off the Italina coastline near busy Naples and Sorrento, the island of Capri and its Marina Grande and harbors are well worth the boat ride from the mainland. Docked and anchored multimillion-dollar yachts await ogling around every pretty corner of Capri.
Seattle’s Pike Place Market still features some of the Pacific Ocean’s most pristine seafood.
» Situated at the end of Puget Sound, Seattle’s boating scene is as busy as ever. With downtown’s Bell Street Pier Cruise Terminal or Seattlebased Holland America Line’s nearby Terminal 91, it’s easy to go yacht-watching in Seattle. For something different, but still afloat, some of the houseboats on Lake Union are quite similar to superyachts in style and amenities. And, of course, Pike Place Market still features flying fish — and some of the Pacific Ocean’s most pristine seafood.
One of Spain’s famed Balearic Islands, Mallorca is a Mediterranean yachting Mecca. The maritime promenade, marinas, and the harbor around Le Seu’s Estacion Maritima provide for sunny yacht-watching, while numerous seaside bars and restaurants feature the day’s fresh catch.
Located near the cruise ship terminals and famed Las Ramblas, Barcelona’s Port Vell waterfront features yacht-filled marinas and more. Nearby, the one-time fishing village of La Barceloneta is now a happening beachfront community where fresh seafood paella is on the menu for those just off their yacht — or cruise ship. Salonnautico in October is one of Europe’s top yachting events.
With a long seafaring and shipbuilding heritage, Genoa’s Porto Antico (old port) is a perfect place for viewing stylish yachts. In addition, the Galata Museo del Mare is an excellent maritime museum and the Genoa International Boat Show in the fall has grown into one of the best offerings in the Mediterranean.
With a backdrop for yachts unlike any other port in the world, historic Venice oozes Italian charm just across every canal and bridge. Adjacent to the Dorsoduro neighborhood not too far from the Venezia Terminali Passeggeri’s cruise ship docks, the Stazione Marittima is a great place to go yacht-watching.
The waterfront walk between Dubrovnik’s Gruz Harbor cruise ship terminal and the city’s famed Old Town heads past yacht marinas often packed with a wide variety of city-based and visiting yachts. Those interested in the sea life and sea-soaked history of the area will want to head to the Fortress of St. John and its Dubrovnik Aquarium and Maritime Museum.
Auckland, New Zealand
Known as the “City of Sails” for good reason, New Zealand’s capital city of Auckland is boating-crazed. With yachtfilled marinas and harbors near the convenient Princes Wharf cruise ship terminal, it’s clear
that local Kiwis love the water. The New Zealand Maritime Museum at Viaduct Harbour is a great place to find out why, as is the America’s Cup hands-on sailing experience in Waitemata Harbour.
DUBAI, UNITED ARAB EMIRATES
The Arabian Gulf is a hot cruise travel destination, as it is with the yachting set heading further afield. Marinas welcome superyachts and their passengers on a daily basis, as do Dubai’s famed upscale shops. The Dubai International Boat show takes place in March. Even landlubbers can’t help but notice that the famed Burj Al Arab hotel is shaped like a sail.
Few ports of call rival the Land Down Under’s Sydney Harbour (Port Jackson) for sheer beauty — and serious yacht-watching. Said to be the largest natural harbor in the world, Australian-based superyachts and those who have made long ocean crossings converge in Sydney. Darling Harbour makes for another great destination for visiting cruise ship passengers, as does the area’s Australian National Maritime Museum. Sydney’s wintertime also brings the Sydney International Boat Show.
Hong Kong, China
Those docked in Victoria Harbour’s Ocean Terminal in Hong Kong can’t miss the superyachts all around them. One great way to get out on the water and see even more is to take the nearby Star Ferry to Hong Kong Island — which ends with a meal and more yacht-watching at Jumbo Floating Restaurant in famed Aberdeen Fishing Village.