My recent voyage through Southeast Asia aboard AmaWaterways’ AmaLotus was an eye-opening adventure. It broadened my cruising horizons and changed the way I view the world in the process. In other words, it was the best kind of experience.

It did, however, get me thinking about other places I have visited that have had a significant impact on how I view the world. Some of them are so remote you’ll have to Google them, while others have an appeal that is easily apparent. Either way, you can never go wrong with a visit to these five unique ports of call:

Kirkenes, Norway

The local church, constructed in 1862. Photo © 2013 Aaron Saunders

The local church in Kirkenes, constructed in 1862. Photo © 2013 Aaron Saunders

Related Live Voyage Report: Norway in Winter aboard Hurtigruten’s Midnatsol

Located 250 miles north of the Arctic Circle, Kirkenes is closer to Russia and Finland than it is to Norway’s capital city, Oslo, which lies 1550 miles to the southwest. The border with Russia is just nine miles to the east of the town, which is littered with colourful wooden structures intermingled with large, imposing industrial complexes. Everything about Kirkenes is the very definition of the word unique, from the sleds on skates utilised during the winter to the abundance of sunlight during the summer months. Best of all, as the turnaround point for Hurtigruten’s Norwegian Coastal Voyages, you can visit Kirkenes at any time of the year.

Rome, Italy

The Trevi Fountain on the evening of August 9, 2013. Photo © 2013 Aaron Saunders

The Trevi Fountain on the evening of August 9, 2013. Photo © 2013 Aaron Saunders

Related Live Voyage Report: From Rome to Nice aboard Windstar Cruises’ Wind Star

There’s nothing quite like Rome. Its storied history can be traced back centuries, and even the most basic walk through the streets will elicit scenes of wonder. In fact, you can hardly walk around in the city centre without discovering something fabulous, from the often-photographed Trevi Fountain to the cafes of Piazza Navona. The New York of Europe, everything you’ve seen in movies is here: the Spanish Steps. The Coliseum. The Roman Forum. The Pantheon. The list is endless. But the greatest pleasure, for me, is doing as the Italians do: cappuccino in the morning, wine in the afternoon.

Richards Bay, South Africa

Photo © 2013 Aaron Saunders

At the Hluhluwe Umfolozi Game Reserve near Richards Bay, South Africa. Photo © 2013 Aaron Saunders

Related Live Voyage Report: South African Safari aboard Silversea’s Silver Wind

The South African town of Richards Bay is somewhat unremarkable in and of itself, but it is its proximity to the numerous game reserves located within the KwaZulu-Natal province that make it a port worth seeking out. Here, you can journey to the Hluhuwe Umfolozi Game Reserve to see the majestic “Big Five” game in their natural habitat – among others. You’ll never look at a North American zoo the same way again.

Vienna, Austria

The Christmas Market in front of Vienna's Rathaus is the largest of the 27 markets within the city limits. Photo © 2012 Aaron Saunders

The Christmas Market in front of Vienna’s Rathaus is the largest of the 27 markets within the city limits. Photo © 2012 Aaron Saunders

Related Live Voyage Report: Viking Freya’s Romantic Danube Christmas Markets

I love Vienna – but not for the reasons you might think. Aside from the miles of museums and buildings bordered by the innovative Ringstrasse, I love Vienna because of two things: coffee and history. Everyone of any sort of importance in the past century seems to have had contact with Vienna at some point, from Freud to Hitler. And where did all these important people meet, you ask? Traditional Viennese cafes. The kind where you can order coffee, breakfast, lunch, a newspaper, and a glass of wine – or two – and never be asked to leave at any point. It’s a gorgeous place to visit during the summer months, but my personal favorite time of year to visit is during the month of December, when over a dozen Christmas Markets line the city’s historic squares. There’s truly nothing like it!

Denali National Park, Alaska

There is nothing - nothing - like a visit deep into the heart of Alaska's Denali National Park. Photo © 2013 Aaron Saunders

There is nothing – nothing – like a visit deep into the heart of Alaska’s Denali National Park. Photo © 2013 Aaron Saunders

Related Live Voyage Report: Ultimate Alaska CruiseTour aboard Princess Cruises’ Coral Princess

You may have sailed to Alaska before, but you haven’t really “seen” it unless you’ve experienced the vast remoteness of Denali National Park. The raw, unspoiled beauty of Denali is almost too much to comprehend. It’s a moving look at what much of the entire state looked like just over a century ago, and an education in the kind of formidable terrain faced by the prospectors who came to Alaska at the height of the Klondike Gold Rush.

Leaving New York aboard Queen Mary 2 on the eve of Hurricane Sandy. Photo © 2012 Aaron Saunders

Where will your journeys take you? Photo © 2012 Aaron Saunders

From the Deck Chair will return on Monday!

 

 

 

One Response to Five Ports that will change your view of the World

  1. Daniel Skriker says:

    Proud to see Richards Bay, South Africa there! Since I am South African.

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