Most cruise ships stop at a port in the morning and depart by late afternoon

Culture lovers don’t always think of cruising when planning a holiday, says Doug Prothero, the managing director of the RitzCarlton Yacht Collection. “Cruises are stereotyped as getaways with lots of eating and drinking and little culture in sight.” While that might be true for some cruises, Prothero says it’s not always the case. He shares some tips on how to enjoy an enlightening cultural experience by boat. 

Pick Itineraries with Longer Stays: 

Most cruise ships stop at a port in the morning and depart by late afternoon. But several cruise lines have itineraries that entail boats spending multiple days at a port, offering cruisegoers the opportunity to spend more time in port and to plan day trips and other longer activities. They give travellers extra time to explore the destination and seek out its culture, whether it’s the museums, bars and restaurants or other public spaces. 

Cruise on a Smaller Ship: 

These vessels can often access ports that bigger cruise ships cannot, which allows them to visit more unusual and off-thebeaten path landmarks, Prothero says. They also give guests the opportunity to create culturefocused itineraries, and many don’t skimp on sleeping quarters or other on-board luxuries just because they’re smaller. “Generally, the bigger the boat, the less flexibility you have in making your trip all about culture because big ships have to manage the needs of many more passengers,” Prothero says. 

Look to Local Educational and Cultural Institutions: 

These types of organisations often host their own cruises that offer itineraries brimming with cultural activities. Many include on-board lectures and seminars from professors and historians about the destinations you’ll visit, and walking tours at ports when you arrive. On Large Ships, Dive Deeper: Prothero said it might take some legwork on your part to have a cultural trip on a large vessel. “Many big boats have a variety of on-board cultural events that they don’t necessarily promote the way that they do other entertainment options,” he said. These events can include lectures and small group dinners dedicated to cultural topics that pertain to your trip. Work with the on-board concierge team to learn more about these choices. You can also find out about them before your trip by calling your cruise company’s planning centre. 

Skip the Group Tours: 

You might want to consider striking out on your own and prioritising the sights you most want to see. Prothero encourages travellers to visit small museums and art galleries, dine at restaurants in lesser-known neighbourhoods and even catch a daytime show at a theatre. If your time is especially limited, consider hiring a guide who can show you the destination’s top cultural sites. 

– New York Times