Port of Monterey
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Monterey is a prime tourist destination, and by mid-morning on any given day, cruise ship passengers will be joined by hordes of tourists arriving by bus and car. However, cruise ship passengers are a distinct minority in Monterey -- the town has strict environmental safeguards, has a limited anchorage and small tendering pier, and is relatively passive in pursuing the industry. There is much local opposition to cruise ships calling in the harbor, and visiting ships must observe strict "no discharge" rules when in port. The size of the marine sanctuaries also limits the location and number of places ships may anchor.
Still, visitors will find a charming community, filled with history from the city's past as a whaling center and, later, as the sardine capital of the Western Hemisphere. Now, of course, that industry is gone, replaced by museums, seafarers, artists and writers. The area is perfect for walkers, and offers a wide range of art galleries and shops, and natural attractions as well as some special man-made ones, such as the Monterey Bay Aquarium. Good restaurants offering freshly caught seafood welcome the diner who is willing to wander off the beaten track. The area boasts numerous up-and-coming wineries.
Top Monterey Itineraries
Star Princess7 Night Pacific Northwest CruiseSeattle, Astoria, Oregon , San Francisco, Monterey, Victoria, SeattleNow
Amsterdam21-day Incan EmpiresSeattle, Vancouver, Victoria, San Francisco, Monterey, Santa Barbara, San Diego, Cabo San Lucas, Huatulco, Fuerte Amador, Lima, LimaNow
Amsterdam35-day Incan EmpiresSeattle, Vancouver, Victoria, San Francisco, Monterey, Santa Barbara, San Diego, Cabo San Lucas, Huatulco, Fuerte Amador, Lima, Lima, Puntarenas , Corinto, Puerto Quetzal , Puerto Vallarta, San DiegoNow
Seabourn Sojourn20-day Alaska & America's Gold CoastVancouver, Ketchikan, Sitka, Icy Strait, Juneau, Wrangell, Prince Rupert, Vancouver, Seattle, Victoria, San Francisco, Monterey, Santa Barbara, Los AngelesNow
Norwegian Jewel6 Night U. S. Pacific Coast CruiseVancouver, Victoria, Astoria, Oregon , San Francisco, Monterey, Los AngelesNow
Where You're Docked
Cruise ship passengers are tendered ashore at the Coast Guard Pier, from which all of Monterey is an easy walk. Tendering begins before many of the shops and attractions have opened; this is a great opportunity to explore prime tourist destinations such as Cannery Row at a relaxed pace.
There is very little to do on the pier itself, but in the immediate area are Fisherman's Wharf, Cannery Row, Presidio Park and downtown. If fishing is your thing, Fisherman's Wharf has all the sights and smells associated with the Monterey fishing industry.
Good to Know
Crowds. Monterey is very popular with tourists, and the Monterey Bay Aquarium is the epicenter. Either visit the Aquarium on your own as soon as it opens or avoid it entirely. Cannery Row can also be dense with foot traffic, although the crowds thin the further one moves from the Aquarium.
Currency & Best Way to Get Money
Currency is the U.S. dollar; ATMs are plentiful.
Food and Drink
The Cannery Row area offers a wide range of restaurants. For something authentic (real fresh seafood) and close, try Sea Harvest (598 Foam Street, 831-646-0547). The day's catch is iced and displayed for sale, and the menu is what's available. Seafood is simply prepared, and sides are uniformly excellent. Dine with locals on fish caught by their neighbors.
For something more elegant and away from the crowds, stroll downtown to Stokes Restaurant and Bar (500 Hartnell Street, 831-373-1110), which features upscale interpretations of California cuisine in an old house that successfully replicates a rustic Southwestern style. At lunch, fresh seafood is incorporated into sandwiches and salads, and the daily specials always include something from the wood-burning oven.
Monterey is located near the important and expanding Monterey Wine Country (Note: There are no wineries or vineyards in the town; the term Monterey wine country refers to the peninsula). While several wineries have their own wine-tasting shops, A Taste of Monterey (700 Cannery Row, 831-646-5446, 11 a.m. - 6 p.m.) sells wines from the entire region. Besides tasting (the staff is friendly and well-informed), visitors can purchase wines from over 40 featured area wineries and have them shipped (the Supreme Court recently declared illegal all rules preventing interstate shipping).
Local artists display and sell their works at Monterey Peninsula Art Foundation (425 Cannery Row, 831-655-1267, 10 a.m. - 6 p.m. daily).