This guest post is by Taylor from US City Traveler.
While cruises are known for their outstanding dining options, peaceful time by the pool, sunbathing, and all of their onboard activities, I actually consider the cruise port stops to be the most enjoyable element of the overall experience.
Once you decide which cruise line is best for you, take a look at my 10 favourite cruise destinations:
10. The Galápagos Islands
See giant tortoises, sea lions, penguins, fur seals, and marine iguanas in a place that Charles Darwin visited to observe the unique wildlife.
I recommend booking your cruise way in advance for these islands. Larger ships are not allowed to visit because they give off too much waste – so a limited number of cruise lines are permitted to visit.
9. The Panama Canal
See the ruins throughout this man made wonder, which was designed to improve transportation efficiency by connecting two oceans. These cruises often stop at places like Puerta Vallarta and Cabo San Lucas.
This luscious getaway is very expensive to visit but totally worth it, especially if it is your honeymoon! See the volcanoes erupt before your very eyes (but don’t get too close!), take in the Hawaiian culture, hike through lush green forests, or wade beneath a mammoth-sized waterfall. Or simply grab a pina colada and watch the sun go down, here in paradise.
See the Sydney Opera House, koalas, kangaroos, and all the natural wonders this incredible destination has to offer. Popular Aussie ports include Sydney, Wellington, Melbourne, Tasmania, and Fiji.
It can be rather frightening to tour Mexico on your own – not just because of the violence and crazy driving, but mainly because such few people speak English. That’s why I recommend choosing your ports wisely! As previously mentioned, Cabo San Lucas and Puerta Vallarta are highly recommended. Also consider Ensenada and the towns of Loreto and La Paz. Whale watch, see ancient ruins, golf, shop, and enjoy a margarita or two.
Discover places like Vietnam, Ho Chi Minh City, and Cambodia while cruising down the Mekong River. Discover natural wonders and places so breathtaking that they will leave you wishing to return very soon!
I always encourage people to see America like they’ve never seen it before and this is the perfect spot to do just that. Alaska is considered to be one of those places that everyone should visit at least once in their lifetime. See beautiful scenery, giant whales, eagles, and tiger sharks. Be sure to go whale watching and hiking. As for the weather: go in the summer and be thankful that you can warm up inside the ship!
Like Alaska, Antarctica may not be right for everyone – but I highly encourage you to step outside of your comfort zone and give it a try. See penguins in their natural habitat, glaciers, icebergs and all that these great white lands have to offer. While it is very pricey, I think it is well worth it. Be aware that you “must” go between October and February because cruise ships do not operate from March to September because it is the Antarctica winter.
I consider cruising Alaska or Antarctica as the best way to see these places. Save the driving for your captain and take the time to see as much of the coastline as possible, from the warmth and safety of your cruise ship.
2. European countries
What better way to see Europe than an action packed cruise? Go shopping, take in the culture, see world-class art museums, archaeological sites and even peek into the past. European travel expert Rick Steves highly recommends taking a cruise for first time European visitors, to give visitors an idea of what all this continent has to offer. This way you can get a brief taste of each destination so you will know where to consider returning on future vacations, when you can spend longer in your favourite spot. Choose between doing excursions or being your own tour guide and going at your preferred pace. Choose from places like: Rome, Athens, Istanbul or Florence.
1. The Bahamas
Out of all the exotic destinations mentioned, the Bahamas are still #1 on my list, especially for those living in the Western Hemisphere. I think everyone should take their first cruise, or at least one cruise throughout their lifetime, to the beautiful Bahamas.
Why? The weather is always nice, the beaches are beautiful, and the popular port in Cape Canaveral is just an hour outside of Orlando, making a cruise a great addition to your Orlando theme-park-filled vacation. Remember that June to early December is the Hurricane threat period so you may want to think twice about going in that time period.
If you’re going to see the Bahamas then you must book a cruise that stops at Nassau, which is home to Atlantis Paradise Island. Atlantis is a luxury beachside resort that has its own aquarium, water park, and much more. Check out my latest review of Atlantis.
So what’s your favourite cruise destination? Is the Caribbean really the best place for first time cruisers? We would love to hear from you in the comments!