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TOP 10 Cruise ports; To celebrate Cruise Month, Mirror cruising expert Captain Greybeard picks his Top 10 favourite ports around the world.

Busiest doesn't mean best when it comes to rating cruise ports. My personal Top 10 is a mixture of hubbub and hideaway; some are bustling with tourists while others offer peace and tranquillity. They are all places I have visited. When I have ticked off Sydney, Auckland and the Galapagos I may have to think about which of these gems might have to be replaced.

1 SPLIT, CROATIA

From PS828pp for seven nights

Such is the popularity of the Croatian coast - with cruise ships flocking there as destinations in the eastern Med are put off limits - that tourist hotspot Dubrovnik can become unbearably overcrowded on busy days. Split is an attractive alternative. The palace of Roman Emperor Diocletian, who reigned more than 1,700 years ago, forms the centre of the old town. Look out for: the popular Riva esplanade. Don't worry about the whiff at the far end. It's not sewage, just the sulphur springs which were what brought Diocletian here and which still feature in spa treatments.

THE DEAL: Thomson Spirit is on a seven-night round trip from Dubrovnik on May 4, 2017, with a call at Split. From PS828pp including flights from Birmingham. mirror.co.uk/TRAVELTOP10

2 BARCELONA, SPAIN

From PS1,991pp for 12 nights

The busiest cruise port in Europe and capital of Spain's Catalonia region, its architecture is dominated by the works of Antoni Gaudi. His Sagrada Familia church has been under construction since 1882 and might be completed by 2026. Barcelona's three miles of beaches won it the best city beach in the world title from National Geographic and the Discovery Channel. The busy La Rambla is best avoided, especially on days when visiting football supporters are in town for a game at the Camp Nou. Look out for: Visitors in November and December should check out the caganers on sale in souvenir shops and Christmas markets. They are little figures of men - including celebs - doing a poo, intended to sit in Nativity tableaux!

THE DEAL: Royal Caribbean's Jewel of the Seas sails on a 12-night round trip from Rome on October 25, 2017, calling at Barcelona. From PS1,991pp including flights from Manchester. mirror.co.uk/ traveltop10

3 BORDEAUX, FRANCE

From PS3,137pp for 14 nights

One of the few ports that caters for river cruise ships and smaller ocean-going vessels, this historic city has been brought up to date by the drive of Mayor Alain Juppe, who served as French prime minister and could yet become president. Derelict buildings that lined the river have been swept away to create a people-friendly esplanade. Week-long river cruises and day excursions from ocean ships focus on vineyards and wine tastings. Look out for: Barges carrying sections of the European Airbus waiting until the water level is just right before squeezing through the centre arch of the 17 which make up the Stone Bridge (one for every letter in Napoleon Bonaparte's name).

THE DEAL: Saga Sapphire's 14-night Taste of France and Spain cruise departs from Dover on April 28 and stops overnight in Bordeaux.

From PS3,137pp. mirror.co.uk/travelTop10

4 NEW YORK, USA

From PS969pp for eight nights, flights extra

In the city that never sleeps passengers arriving on cruise ships must be up early to enjoy the sunrise views as their ship passes the Statue of Liberty. Cunard and other Carnival Corp brands use a terminal at Red Hook, Brooklyn; Royal Caribbean operates from a port across the Hudson in New Jersey. The best views (and the easiest walk to Times Square) are from ships berthing at historic Manhattan Piers. Look out for: The One World Observatory, 1,266ft up on floors 100 to 102 of the new World Trade Center, has views that stretch for ever. It's higher than the Empire State Building and Top of the Rock and is enclosed by windows.

THE DEAL: Carnival Sunshine sails an eight-night Caribbean round trip from New York on June 20, 2017. From PS969pp, not including flights. mirror.co.uk/travelTop10

5 CAPE TOWN, SOUTH AFRICA

From PS1,649pp for 17 nights

Thanks to Table Mountain and the 12 Apostles rock formations on the coastline to the south, Cape Town is one of the most spectacular cities in the world. It can also claim to be the most affordable, according to a recent Post Office report. If time is short, combine a Big Red Bus tour of the city with the cable car to the summit of Table Mountain. If you stay overnight, there are bargains to be had in the shops of the Victoria & Alfred Waterfront, and restaurants and bars aplenty. Look out for: Boat trips to Robben Island, where Nelson Mandela spent 18 of his 27 years in jail. About PS17.50pp.

THE DEAL: Cunard's Queen Mary 2 sails from Southampton on a 17-night trip to Cape Town on January 10, 2017. From PS1,649pp.

mirror.co.uk/travelTop10

6 LONGYEARBYEN, NORWAY

From PS1,153pp for five nights

Fans of Philip Pullman's His Dark Materials trilogy - and those of the murder mystery TV series Fortitude - will be familiar with Svalbard; Longyearbyen is its main port, with a striking collection of multicoloured homes and an eerie aerial tramway that carried coal to the harbour. There's 24-hour daylight from April to August, and the sun never rises between October and February. Look out for: Road signs warning of polar bears and stuffed specimens in the Svalbard museum and, bizarrely, the church.

THE DEAL: Hurtigruten's Nordstjernen departs on a round trip from Longyearbyen on June 8, 2017. From PS1,153pp including Heathrow flights. mirror.co.uk/travelTop10

7 ST MAARTEN, CARIBBEAN

From PS1,499pp for 14 nights

For me, many of the popular ports in the Caribbean offer more in the way of beaches and duty-free shopping than heritage and history. Antigua, St Lucia and Dominica are honourable exceptions, but I have put St Maarten at the top of my list. Not because it is the world's smallest island divided between two countries (the Netherlands and France), but because I rented an open-topped Mustang for less than PS60. Look out for: Maho Beach, where thrill-seekers almost get their hair parted by jets arriving at the island's airport. THE DEAL: P&O's Britannia sails a 14-night Caribbean fly cruise calling at St Maarten and departing on February 25, 2017. From PS1,499 including flights. mirror.co.uk/travelTop10

8 SINGAPORE

From PS1,323pp for nine nights

An Asian superstate with skyscrapers and ambitions to rival the UAE, Singapore grows ever bigger and cleaner. One of the two cruise terminals is in the shadow of the cable car to the pleasure island of Sentosa, the other is part of the Marina Bay development. Look out for: Gardens by the Bay has a 115ft waterfall inside a cloud forest conservatory.

THE DEAL: Princess Cruises' Diamond Princess sails a nine-night southeast Asia round-trip from Singapore on February 19, 2017. From PS1,323pp inc flights. mirror.co.uk/TRAVELTOP10

9 STOCKHOLM, SWEDEN

From PS1,299pp for 11 nights

Home to the Nobel Prize ceremonies, Sweden's capital sits on 14 islands. Millions visit the old town, Gamla Stan, where the Changing of the Guard ceremony surpasses the Buckingham Palace spectacle. Biggest attraction is the archipelago of 24,000 islands. ABBA's Benny and Bjorn composed most of their songs on one. Look out for: It's no Blackpool Pleasure Beach but Gron Lund amusement park has 30 attractions, including an old crane disguised as a giraffe.

For more or to any of deals mirror.Traveltop10

THE DEAL: Fred Olsen's 11-night Swedish Waterways cruise on Balmoral sails from Newcastle on May 30, 2017, calling at Stockholm. From PS1,299pp. mirror.co.uk/TRAVELTOP10

10 VENICE, ITALY

From PS499pp for seven nights, flights extra

Quite simply, the most beautiful city in the world, which wants to exclude cruise ships for damaging its very foundations.

The wake from hundreds of smaller boats is probably more to blame, but the ships that offer unforgettable views across the rooftops are an easy target. Go now before it's too late. Look out for: The city's oldest rowing club, based in an old salt warehouse facing the Guidecca Canal, offers lessons for would-be gondoliers. It's trickier than it looks.

THE DEAL: MSC Musica sails on October 29, 2017 on a seven-night round trip from Venice. From PS499pp. mirror.co.uk/TRAVELTOP10

CAPTION(S):

8 Gardens by the Bay in Singapore

10Bella Venice will float your boat

9 Gamla Stan, oldest part of Stockholm

4 Wake up early to take a Liberty pic
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Title Annotation:Features
Publication:Sunday Mirror (London, England)
Geographic Code:4EUSP
Date:Oct 2, 2016
Words:1423
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