New Orleans is a city stuck in a time warp, but therein lies its major appeal.

Many experienced cruisers are familiar with many of the major cities around the world from where you can start your cruise holiday.

Ports such as Sydney, Vancouver, Southampton and Miami are all firmly entrenched in the mindset of many as well-known locations where you can board a cruise ship, as these serve as the embarkation ports of choice for many millions of travellers each year. But as cruising has evolved over time and as ships grow both in number and in size, cruise lines have had to think outside the square and broaden their bases.

As the variety of cities and towns which serve as home ports has expanded significantly in recent times, this has allowed travellers to enjoy new experiences prior to boarding their ship. We have taken a look at some of the most exciting up-and-coming home ports which are benefiting from this renewed interest from cruise lines from around the world.

Dublin, Ireland

The Irish capital is a relatively new player on the international cruising scene, with Celebrity Cruises recently announcing the city will play home and host to one of its ships for a short season of cruising from mid-2018.

Offering an opportunity to embark on itineraries to the British Isles, the Norwegian Fjords and Iceland among other places, Dublin will serve as the home of Celebrity Eclipse, a near carbon copy of local favourite Celebrity Solstice, which will give Australian fans of Celebrity a touch of home abroad. Sailings from the Irish capital start during the Northern Hemisphere’s 2018 summer and are already proving extremely popular with both Irish locals & foreigners.

Dublin is the latest home port to be added to the map for global cruise line Celebrity Cruises.
Dublin is the latest home port to be added to the map for global cruise line Celebrity Cruises.

Havana, Cuba

No other destination in the world has had as much of a shape shifting year in 2016 as Cuba. From greeting the first US President to visit in over 50 years, the death of its longstanding tyrannical leader, to opening its borders to the world’s biggest cruise brands, it has been a momentous year in the country’s largely sheltered recent history.

More cruise lines were recently approved to sail to the island nation from the United States, however for a couple of years now, one cruise line has already been firmly planted as the leader in Cuba, with MSC Cruises offering seasonal voyages which set sail from Havana.

The Italian line was the first major western cruise line to visit the Caribbean island nation last year when MSC Opera was based for the full 2015/16 winter season. One year later and a second ship in MSC Armonia is about to join in, making Cuba one of the hottest destinations on the European line’s radar.

MSC Armonia, one of the line's smaller vessels has now set up shop in Cuba alongside her sister MSC Opera.
MSC Armonia, one of the line’s smaller vessels has now set up shop in Cuba alongside her sister MSC Opera.

Mumbai, India

Discovering the Golden Triangle and admiring icons such as the Taj Mahal are on the bucket lists for most travellers, however not many think to combine their Indian holiday with a subcontinental cruise.

Azamara Club Cruises – the luxury sister line to Royal Caribbean and Celebrity Cruises – recently became the first major cruise line to base a vessel in India, with Azamara Journey offering a selection of voyages to The Maldives and Mauritius beginning from Mumbai.

Also on offer are two repositioning voyages – one to Singapore calling in at ports along the Malay Peninsula and another bound for Athens and transiting the Suez Canal. The limited number of sailings from India has seen their popularity surge, with demand resulting in scarce availability and a higher price for these voyages than others of similar length in other parts of the Azamara map.

The Taj Mahal and Golden Triangle can be easily added to a cruise to or from Mumbai.
The Taj Mahal and Golden Triangle can be easily added to a cruise to or from Mumbai.

Reykjavík, Iceland

Despite its name and the obvious irony, Iceland is arguably one of the hottest destinations of recent times, with the tiny north Atlantic island nation home to some of the most diverse and interesting scenery in the world.

It’s no surprise then that with this rise in popularity among the travel community, cruise lines are well aware of its appeal and have jumped on the bandwagon with voyages beginning from Iceland’s largest city. Small ship cruise lines such as Windstar and Ponant both now offer regular sailings from the city, many of which circumnavigating the island over the course of a week.

Luxury brand Regent Seven Seas Cruises, Oceania Cruises and Crystal Cruises all also allow you to begin your cruise in Reykjavik, with a range of itineraries ranging from voyages which explore the British Isles to others heading to Greenland and Arctic Canada.

Reykjavik is an exciting homeport development for luxury and expedition lines.
Reykjavik is an exciting home port still in development for luxury and expedition lines.

New Orleans, USA

From the atmosphere of Bourbon Street, the French Quarter and the spooky ghost stories of the numerous haunted mansions dotted around the city, New Orleans intrigues everyone who walk its streets. With a recently expanded cruise terminal on the banks of the Mississippi River, New Orleans is seeing a boom in cruise traffic as new lines flock to the city.

Carnival Cruise Line and Norwegian now sail year-round from the southern city to different corners of the Caribbean, while the American Queen steamboat offers Mississippi River cruising taking guests to some seemingly old-world desert and country towns you may have thought only existed in Western movies.

Occasionally, P&O Cruises UK and Crystal Cruises also schedule a visit into the city for a brief tenure of destination intensive Caribbean itineraries, with the Crystal product especially designed to take place around the city’s famed Mardi Gras parade and party.

New Orleans and its position at the mouth of the Mississippi River positions it perfectly for both river and ocean cruising.
New Orleans and its position at the mouth of the Mississippi River positions it perfectly for both river and ocean cruising.

Cape Town, South Africa

Sailing from South Africa’s oldest city and one of the most stunning harbours in the world, MSC Cruises brings its unique Mediterranean-infused cruise experience to some of the most stunning islands on the Indian Ocean for different lengths of time.

Shorter four and five-night sailings to Namibia are intertwined with longer sailings to destinations throughout Africa such as Mauritius and even the Seychelles. Guests looking for something a little more luxurious will also find offerings from Oceania, Cunard and Crystal in these waters from time to time. Occasional off-peak cruises to and from South America can also be found in this region, some of which dip as far south as the Sub-Antarctic islands.

Table Mountain greets passengers in an imposing manner as cruise ships sail into Cape Town.
Table Mountain greets passengers in an imposing manner as cruise ships sail into Cape Town.

Quebec City, Canada

Located in the chic French-Canadian Quebec province, the only fortified city in North America is the home port for a wide range of cruise lines from Royal Caribbean to Oceania.

Most Quebec City sailings are one-way itineraries to and from New York City, however if you have the time, some voyages continue on longer itineraries to Florida and even further into the Caribbean. Cruises in this part of the world almost always take place during warmer weather, but if you time it nearer to the end of the summer, expect to see plenty of autumn colours as you transit the St. Lawrence Seaway – popular whale spotting territory.

Quebec City and nearby Montreal offer a great selection of pre and post cruise options to continue in Canada, with Niagara Falls a short hop, skip and jump from Quebec City.

Historically significant Quebec City is the only fortified city in North America.
Historically significant Quebec City is the only fortified city in North America.

Have you sailed in or out of one of these ports? What did you think? Tell us in the comments!

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