Cruising is infectious. Once people get a taste of what a true cruise vacation can be like, they’re always looking for the next great destination to explore. There are tons of great cruise itineraries out there, but which ones should you be booking? Do you go with the flow and cruise where everyone else goes, or should you look for a cruise vacation that’s well outside the ordinary?
Here’s our list of the top 8 cruises you shouldn’t be booking, and the 8 you should be booking instead!
Perhaps the most iconic cruise destination, the Caribbean offers a number of fantastic itinerary options across the many islands which dot the region. However, not all Caribbean itineraries are created equal. Three or four day cruises from Florida (Port of Palm Beach, Port Canaveral etc) which head to the Bahamas are fun and affordable, but those looking for a real Caribbean experience should try a cruise that ventures further into the many unique Caribbean islands, not just one.
Norwegian Cruise Line’s 7-day itinerary to the Western Caribbean offers stops at three unique central American countries; Belize, Honduras and Mexico. Each country has a unique culture to explore This Western Caribbean itinerary features days at sea as well as in port so you can fully enjoy everything the ship has to offer.
Not every cruise has to involve sunscreen and the beach. Cruising the Baltics is a popular itinerary for those looking for a little adventure. Check out polar bears, the Northern Lights and all the herring you can eat when you cruise to northern European countries like Sweden, Norway, Finland or Russia.
Most don’t think of the Baltics as a very “kid-friendly” cruise destination, but that’s where Disney Cruise Line’s 7 Day Baltic/Russia itinerary comes in handy. Disney ships are chock full of fun and excitement for kids of all ages and the natural beauty and serenity of Northern Europe is something parents will enjoy as well. Explore great northern cities like Copenhagen, St. Petersburg, Helsinki or Stockholm all while enjoying the comfort and excitement that Disney Cruise Line has to offer.
Those cruising to Alaska are all about adventure. Plenty of major cruise lines sail the coastline of America’s most wild state, but do you really get to experience Alaska’s wilderness on a ship with thousands of other people. Cruising to Skagway, Ketchikan, Juneau and other touristy ports is a fun and unique experience, but there are cruises that get you closer to nature and the true beauty of the region.
A 7-day Inside Passage cruise from Lindblad Special Expeditions takes guests through parts of Alaska which remain untouched by human hand. Starting from Juneau, explore Tracy Arm, Frederick Sound, Chatham Strait, Icy Strait, the Inian Islands, Glacier Bay and more. Lindblad’s ships are built for adventure and have everything needed to make the wilderness of Alaska more attainable than ever before.
South of the Caribbean lies a whole new region for cruisers to explore. South America cruises are popular thanks to unique ports of call like Cartagena, Lima or Santiago, but there’s more adventure to be had on your next South American cruise. There’s plenty to love about cruising on a large ship to these fun and exciting ports, but there’s one particular location in South America that every cruise lover needs to explore; the Galapagos.
Those looking for a true adventure need to book their next South American cruise to the Galapagos Islands. Many cruise lines offer Galapagos itineraries, including Celebrity Cruises on board their new adventure ship, Celebrity Flora. Left almost entirely untouched by humans, the Galapagos Islands are ripe for exploration and offer a trip of a lifetime for those looking for a truly special South American cruise vacation.
The Meditteranean is one of the most beautiful regions in all the world and it’s wildly popular with cruise ship passengers. Famous ports like Genoa, Marseille, Ibiza, Naples, Barcelona and more offer unique history and traditional Southern European culture for those who sail to their shores. Itineraries on larger ships stop at these ports and more, but for those who want an intimate experience cruising places like the Greek islands of Mykonos, booking a smaller cruise line is the way to go.
Celestyal Cruises offers small ship luxury with port-driven itineraries which give passengers more time to explore more off the beaten path islands such as Patmos, Thira, Milos, Rhodes and more. These islands are rich with culture and history and aren’t always available when you cruise on larger ships.
The Far East is a place Westerners absolutely need to visit more. Countries like Japan, China, Thailand, Vietnam and more offer unique culture and history not found anywhere else in the world. Plenty of ocean cruise lines sail from country to country in Asia with stops along the way, but time in port is sometimes limited and most don’t get the kind of immersion into each culture as they’d like.
The solution is to ditch the ocean ships and focus instead on one of the many rivers which snake their way through the countryside and offer a glimpse into live beyond the touristy ports. Cruise lines like Avalon Waterways offer immersion itineraries touring the Mekong River through Vietnam and Cambodia. The river played a huge role in the development in the region over time and is a vital part of life for many along its banks.
Everyone cruises the Caribbean, but did you know there’s a region in Southeast Asia that rivals the famous cruise destination in terms of beauty and culture? There’s a reason that famous French artist Paul Gauguin spent so much time in French Polynesia and it starts with the incredible scenery. Large ships certainly cruise to the region via Australia, but to truly experience all the Tahiti and more have to offer, smaller ship cruising is the way to go.
Windstar Cruises is one such small ship cruise line offering a cruise experience in French Polynesia unlike any you’ll find. Starting in Papeete, cruisers visit off the beaten path islands like Fakarava, Rangiroa and Tahaa. Get up close and personal to these incredible islands without the crowds from a large ship getting in the way.
Those who really want to cruise in style usually book something like a European river cruise complete with wine, great cuisine, historical excursions and more. It’s a marriage of culture and adventure only found along the banks of such historic rivers like the Danube, the Duoro, the Rhone and more.
You can cruise to iconic European cities like Paris on the Seine or Cologne on the Rhine, or you could explore parts of Europe that aren’t tourist meccas. Viking River Cruises offers itineraries thousands of years old before enjoying a gourmet cuisine lunch complete with wine pairings. There’s no shortage of things to see and explore with a European river cruise to lesser-known European cities full of charm and culture.