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The Seven Best Climbs in Cruising

Feature Photo: Hawaii Tourism Board

 

The cruise stereotype of constant all-day buffets, ice-cream bars, and a pound-a-day weight gain are so out of date. Today’s cruiser is younger and more health conscious than ever. Most ships have state-of-the-art gyms, fitness programs, and healthy eating options to help us stay trim — but why stay on the ship to burn off those calories? Why not combine your sightseeing with a good workout, and get some fabulous vistas along the way?

Many ports sit below dominating hills that provide wonderful views down to your ship and the harbor below, plus you may have the reward of exploring a historic fort or nature reserve at the top. Here’s our pick of the best climbs in cruising.

Nafplion — Greece

As you catch your tender ride into the beautiful port of Nafplion in the Peloponnese, your target is immediately obvious — a formidable Venetian fortress at the top of a snaking walkway leading up from the historic town.

Making your way up those 800 or so steps of the sloping cobblestone walkway, you’ll pass by crenulated fortifications and huge bastions before reaching the impressive (but largely empty) fortress at the top. Of course, the amazing views back over town, with your ship sitting serenely in the gulf behind, make it all worthwhile.

Once you’ve made it back down to the bottom, cool off at the attractive pebble beach on the other side of the headland.

Honolulu — Hawaii, USA

If you don’t mind a few crowds, then climb up to the top of the iconic Diamond Head overlooking the superb Waikiki Beach. Diamond Head is a 200,000 year-old extinct volcano that was used by the U.S. military as a lookout post, so you’ll see that there’s old military bunkers and installations along the way.

The climb takes about an hour, passing along open paths, narrow stairways, dark tunnels and steep steps. It can get pretty busy at peak times, but those superb 360-degree panoramic views are definitely worth sharing.

Kotor — Montenegro

The sail-in to Kotor is amazing enough, but you can get a different perspective on the stunning Kotor fjord by climbing up to the Venetian Fortress behind town, 755 feet above sea level.

Your legs may be wobbling after the 1,300 strenuous steps up and down (give yourself a good couple of hours for the round trip), but the views are simply spectacular — historic bell-towers, terracotta roof tiles, and your ship docked right next to the medieval Old Town, with that fjord as an awesome….

 

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Jon Fleming lives in London, U.K., and has been traveling all his adult life — from a month-long round-Europe rail trip when he was 18, to a year-long round-the-world backpacking trip for his honeymoon. For the last 17 years, he has been traveling by cruise ship as a destination lecturer, visiting 130 countries and sailing on 11 world cruise itineraries.