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Two Mariners Reveal Their Top 10 Favorite Grand World Voyage Ports

During the 2015 Grand World Voyage we closely followed the epic adventures of Jeff Farschman, President’s Club member and “World Adventure” blogger, as well as Cruise Critic members John and Diane. All three had extraordinary experiences, many of them together, while circling the globe, visiting more than 25 ports in 45 countries across six continents.

At the end of the journey, both Jeff and Diane compiled their lists of their Top 10 Favorite Ports. Interestingly, they share six out of 10 top picks. Enjoy the list and see if their top 10 make it on yours as well. All of the accompanying photos were taken by Jeff.


Bagan, Myanmar

Bagan, Myanmar … just magical! The thousands of temples and pagodas are breathtaking. It also helps if you get a chance to do a sunrise hot air balloon ride over the Valley filled with thousands of temples in the early morning mist. — Jeff



I don’t think I’ve ever seen so many pagodas and temples in my life. All 3,000 of them seem to just sprout out of the ground in a terra cotta color, inviting the visitor to see as many as possible, which we did on our Balloons over Bagan ride. — Diane

Bali, Indonesia

Our four days at The Mulia Hotel in Bali to celebrate John’s birthday were four days of incredible indulgence … The Balinese people are warm and welcoming and the natural surroundings of the island are as lovely as the greenest tropics. — Diane


Bali [is] a perennial favorite for me with it’s magical temples, rice terraces and beautiful people. — Jeff

Bora Bora, French Polynesia

Bora Bora is, in my opinion, one of the most beautiful places on the planet. The undersea world is simply amazing as well. — Jeff


We spent a day in paradise. The water is a shade of turquoise seldom seen and a temperature that simply invites you to swim. We saw dozens of different colors of coral, more tropical fish than any aquarium, and swam with sharks and manta rays. Even the nasty sunburn on my back (from snorkeling) didn’t ruin my wonderful day. — Diane

Inle Lake, Myanmar

Inle Lake, with the one legged rowers … Another place that just captures the imagination with the scenic beauty and wonderful people. — Jeff


I’ve never spent time in an area where the only transportation is by longboat and where fisherman pole their boats through the shallow water by wrapping one leg around the pole so that both their arms can be used for the nets. Hotels are built on stilts and getting to the local market means that you must first listen to boat motors beginning at about 3:00 in the morning and then take your own longboat to a market where we were the only westerners for the first couple of hours. — Diane

Petra, Jordan

Carved out of solid rock, the high-walled walkways and colorful buildings draw thousands of people each day. You can get into the heart of Petra by taking a carriage or a mule along the mile-long entry canyon, but walking showed us all the small and large details and led us quite gradually to the first “A-Ha” moment when you see The Treasury. — Diane


Petra, the Rose City and Wadi Rum…. You cannot visit the city of Petra or the desert of Wadi Rum and not come away in awe, simply amazing! — Jeff

Varanasi, India

Above all the unique places we visited, this one wins the prize for “unlike anything I’ve ever seen or thought about.” When I was in junior high or high school, I saw a photo of Varanasi in a textbook and thought, “that place really can’t be that unusual.” Boy, was I wrong. I have all kinds of feelings about Varanasi: fascination, repugnance, amazement, sympathy, etc. More than any place I’ve ever visited, it’s the one that amazed me the most, educated me the most, and the one I’m not sure I would return to. That sounds contradictory, but it’s all true. Every first world citizen should visit Varanasi. — Diane


Varanasi, India … An obvious choice for me personally, I have previously visited here and find it one of the most amazing places to visit. The oldest living city in India is very spiritual, colorful and chaotic. I love it! — Jeff


Monasteries of Meteora in Greece

Next, is a place I have visited three times and each time I find it magnificent, the Monasteries of Meteora in Greece. I was on an overland provided by Holland America Line and it was a fabulous stop.


Delphi, Greece

On the same overland trip in Greece we visited Delphi, another site of magnificence….. I never tire of visiting this World Heritage site.


Amalfi Coast

My next selection comes in Europe, a visit to Naples isn’t quite complete without a visit to the Amalfi coast. Such magnificent beauty!


Rome and the Vatican

Another obvious choice for me was Rome and the Vatican. The centuries of history and the magnificence of the architecture are worth visiting.



Jerusalem, Israel

Whether you’re a Christian, Jew or Muslim, Jerusalem is a must-see place. I have attended Sunday School and/or church my whole life, and to see these sites was almost an out-of-body experience. I’m a bit cynical about whether the “approved locations” are really where things took place, but some places, like The Garden of Gethsemane, are exactly where the gospels say it is.


Mumbai, India

We’ve been to Mumbai several times, and every time is different and just plain fascinating. When I was in my 20’s, the concept of India made me very uncomfortable; the people were too poor and there were too many of them. Now that I’m (a lot) older, I just love every visit to every port in India, especially this one. It’s a delight for the senses – all of them. I can’t recommend it enough.


The Sea of Galilee

Our second day in Israel was centered on sites around the Sea of Galilee, including the village where Peter lived, the Jordan River, and a small fishing village that probably looked like what it did 2,000 years ago. This is another area I’d like to spend time when we return to Israel next year.


Champagne Under the Stars in Sydney, Australia

What could be better than sitting on the top deck of our beautiful ship with the Sydney Opera House on one side and the Sydney Harbour Bridge on the other. We had white linens and sparkling silver and enjoyed Veuve Cliquot Champagne while listening to Debby Bacon play the piano under the stars. It was an amazing experience.

Sydney Collage

Have you been to any of these places? Do they rank among your top 10 as well? If you would like to go to these amazing ports, check out the 2016 Grand World Voyage!