4 Cruise Ship Ports That Suck

01/21/2014 03:02 pm ET Updated Dec 06, 2017

Bari, Italy. Photo by Mi.Ti. / Shutterstock

It’s a great big world, so it’s no surprise that while there are numerous cruise ship ports that are beloved by travelers -- and plenty that have both lovers and haters -- others are generally regarded as awful. Based on the analysis of responses from members of Cruiseline.com, here are five ports around the world they are least likely to recommend:

Prince Rupert, Canada

Alaska Itineraries

Perhaps because it’s mist-shrouded natural approaches -- alive with whales, eagles and grizzly bears --are so awe-inspiring, the Canadian port of Prince Rupert, serving an economically struggling city that shows a bit too much of its commercial fishing and mill town roots, leaves many cruise passengers looking more forward to departure than arrival. It does have its attractions --the shore excursion to Canada’s only grizzly bear sanctuary is enormously popular --but if you’re looking for a port to skip in favor of the spa on your Alaskan cruise, this may be the one.

Telling Quote: “This is the worst port I have ever been to. We had great weather (unusual for this town) but nothing to do. We visited the Safeway and the Seven-Eleven." --PauletteB2

Fort-de-France, Martinique

Southern Caribbean

English is little spoken, which you would expect on a very French island like Martinique, but not on shore excursions presumably designed with a fair number of Americans in mind. Fort-de-France’s main dock area doubles as a cargo terminal and, through its grime, shows it. The town is a good hike away, past sketchy areas where drug use seems evident. And, on Sundays, almost everything is closed.

Telling Quote: “We had high expectations of this historic island. After all, it was the site of the Mt. Pelee volcanic explosion in 1902, which killed more than 20,000 people. It also was the birthplace of Napoleon’s mistress and wife, Josephine. We found the capital seedy and vaguely threatening, reminiscent of an old Graham Greene novel. We were cheated out of the few purchases we made, and our friends encountered the same treatment." --Dr.L

La Romana, Dominican Republic

Southern Caribbean

For cruise ship passengers who venture ashore here, at a sparse facility a long ride down the coast from La Romana, the poverty and overly aggressive vendor hustling are apparent. Yet what cruise passengers complain about most is the difficulty of getting from their ship to the resort area of Casa de Campo, with its shopping, restaurants and even golf. And to make matters worse, you have to sign up for a shore excursion, or Casa de Campo won’t even let you in the gate.

Telling Quote: “Scary -- felt very nervous and hounded." -- Jodym

Cayo Levantado (Samana), Dominican Republic

Southern Caribbean

Some sleight of hand is going on here, because while the Dominican Republic’s tiny private island of Cayo Levantado might be listed as your port, most ships anchor in Samana Bay, off the city of Samana. Even more than La Romana, Samana is commonly criticized for being dirty and crime-ridden, with levels of poverty that shock cruise visitors. Although to be fair (Are you listening, tourism officials?), that’s probably because they haven’t seen some of the rest of the Dominican Republic.

Telling Quote: “The poverty here is striking and although some do cruise to see more of the world as it really is, the Discover Samana tour was a sad experience. We wished that for the enjoyment we had gone to spend the day at the all-inclusive resort, which was one of the tours offered. Hard to ‘vacation’ amid such sadness." -- ElinorK

Want more? Check out the expanded piece on BonVoyageMag.com to see Cruiseline.com members' least-favorite port.


Bob Payne is a contributing writer at BonVoyageMag.com, a publication of Cruiseline.com.