Taking a relaxing cruise round Malta’s majestic, historic and natural harbours provides a break from the sometimes hectic routine sight-seeing. Indeed, cruising around in Valletta Grand Harbour has today become an integral part of the tourist itinerary for thousands of visitors to these islands.
For what better way is there to see the sights than from an exceptional vantage point, with the refreshing sea breeze caressing your face? Although the average harbour cruise lasts about an hour, many visitors to Malta regard this experience as one of the highlights of their holiday. Indeed, taking a cruise around the island’s harbours can be an exhilarating experience!
Undoubtedly, the main attraction of any harbour cruise is Valletta Grand Harbour. The imposing bastions of the fortified cities of Valletta and The Three Cities, together with the skyline of their baroque churches, provide the perfect backdrop for a memorable cruise around one of the world’s deepest natural harbours. Once inside Grand Harbour, one can appreciate better the vital role this port still plays in Malta’s economy, with a constant flow of cargo ships coming in to load and unload, while others wait to be repaired at the local dockyard.
Apart from Valletta Grand Harbour, these cruises take visitors around the various creeks which make up Malta’s harbour area, where amongst others one can admire a vast array of yachts and other sea-crafts berthed at the island’s popular marinas. Other attractions in the vicinity include Fort Manoel, a star-shaped fort situated on Manoel Island and built by the Knights of St. John, as well as the gardens of Sa Maison, located on top of the bastions in Pieta Creek.
The Three Cities, on the other hand, offer an intriguing insight into Malta’s history. A visit by boat to this part of the harbour area offers an authentic slice of Malta’s maritime tradition. The Three Cities also lay claim to being the cradle of Maltese history. Vittoriosa and Senglea, situated on rocky promontories jutting into Grand Harbour, as well as Cospicua, located at the end of the creek between the two, have provided both a home as well as protection to successive waves of settlers on the Island. In fact, historians have declared that the area’s harbour inlets have been in use since Phoenician times.
The docks, which for centuries have provided a living for the inhabitants of the area, continue to dominate the skyline. Finally, the imposing Fort St. Angelo, at the tip of Vittoriosa, is considered to be the jewel in the crown of Malta’s architectural heritage.
The starting point for most harbour cruises lies along the promenade linking Sliema to Gzira, more specifically the part known as The Ferries. Here one can choose between the services offered by the various companies operating cruises.
Most excursions take place on regular passenger cruisers which have a long tradition of safety and comfort. A number of traditional Maltese fishing boats. called Luzzus, have also been charmingly modified for cruising purposes. However, for that extra touch of luxury and a more classic sea-faring adventure, you can join a harbour cruise on one of the majestic sailing yachts which ply the archipelago’s sea lanes. Meanwhile, a running commentary, a standard feature on any cruise service, will allow you to better appreciate the sights.
Whichever harbour cruise you go for, however, you are certain to encounter a hospitable and helpful crew who will go that extra mile to ensure that you have a memorable experience. So get your camera ready, sit back and enjoy the sights.