Best Of: Where to stay before a cruise

 

There’s something special about the anticipation travelers feel before departing on a cruise: Whether you’re traveling to the Caribbean or Alaska, or if you’re sailing along the Rhine, your expectations are high and you’re ready for an adventure, so you want to make sure your trip starts out on the right foot. That’s why we’ve collected some of our top hotel recommendations for an exceptional stay before your cruise departure.

For an Alaskan cruise departing from Vancouver (such as the 10-night Alaskan cruise on the Norwegian Pearl), we recommend a stay at the conveniently located The Fairmont Waterfront. It’s right beside the Canada Place Cruise Ship Terminal, and its location means that the hotel boasts some gorgeous water views. One of our favorite things about this property is its focus on local fare. The restaurant (Heron’s) menu features local and sustainable ingredients, seasoned with herbs plucked from the hotel’s third-floor organic garden. And that buzz in the air? It comes from the on-site honeybee colony, something this chain is famous for. Specialty coffees are offered at Heron’s Bar just off the lobby. The bar also has all local beers on tap. Don’t miss the view from the year-round, 50-ft-long heated pool on the third-floor terrace (shared with the herb garden) that faces the harbor and North Shore Mountains. To start your cruise from a very Zen place, be sure to participate in the sunrise rooftop yoga.

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For a European river cruise departing from Budapest, Hungary (such as the seven-night European inland waterways cruise on the Viking Alsvin), stay a few days at the Hotel Palazzo Zichy. It’s located in a trendy area lined with contemporary art galleries, open-air bars and restaurants, and meticulously refurbished lofts and ancient cathedrals. This hotel is the perfect place to soak up both the old-world charm and the modern bohemian flair of Budapest. This theatrical gem makes a perfect base for exploring the city, and when it comes time to depart for the Danube, the Port of Budapest is only 3 miles away.

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For a Southeast Asian cruise departing from Ho Chi Minh City, Vietnam (such as the nine-night Southeast Asia cruise on the Le Soleal), we recommend the Renaissance Riverside Hotel Saigon. Not only does it boast some of the best views of the city and the Saigon River, but it also has an outstanding, professional staff and a 22nd-floor swimming pool that is easily the best positioned in Ho Chi Minh City. It proffers excellent views over the surrounding area and has an ample supply of recliners and garden furniture. We also love the ambience of the Atrium Lounge on the fifth floor, which sits at the base of the hotel’s spectacular 16-floor atrium highlighted by fiery orange Oriental lanterns.

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For a Mediterranean cruise departing from lovely Barcelona (such as the four-night Western Mediterranean cruise on the Sea Cloud II), we recommend a stay at the Hotel Pulitzer Barcelona. We love the sleek midcentury decor and prime location a stone’s throw from Plaza Catalunya (just 2 miles from the port). The rooms are a bit on the small side for what U.S. guests might be used to, but you’re about to spend four days on a cruise ship, so this is just a wonderfully stylish way of getting acclimated to closer quarters.

When departing from Vancouver (such as the 10-night Alaskan cruise on the Norwegian Pearl), we recommend a stay at the conveniently located The Fairmont Waterfront. It’s right beside the Canada Place Cruise Ship Terminal, and its location means that the hotel boasts some gorgeous water views. One of our favorite things about this property is its focus on local fare. The restaurant (Heron’s) menu features local and sustainable ingredients, seasoned with herbs plucked from the hotel’s third-floor organic garden. And that buzz in the air? It comes from the on-site honeybee colony, something this chain is famous for. Specialty coffees are offered at Heron’s Bar just off the lobby. The bar also has all local beers on tap. Don’t miss the view from the year-round, 50-ft-long heated pool on the third-floor terrace (shared with the herb garden) that faces the harbor and North Shore Mountains. To start your cruise from a very Zen place, be sure to participate in the sunrise rooftop yoga.

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