Five Of My Favorite Cruise Itineraries

Just in case your bucket list is wanting – or even if it is not – here are five of my favorite cruise itineraries that you may want to consider adding to your list, if you haven’t already.

These go in no particular order. This is not a hierarchal list. Rather, it’s the reflections and musings of someone who has written about cruising for nearly three decades.

five favorite cruise itineraries

The Caribbean

I remember the words like it was yesterday. We were standing on a sandbar on a Caribbean island. Alex, who was only around six years old at the time, looked up at me and said with excitement. “Dad, I touched a stingray.” I could tell he was a little afraid, but he put on his brave face and said, “They’re nice.”

As a family, we cruised the Caribbean many times, perfect for getting the kids out on the beaches and into the sea. Most times, we enjoyed idyllic days under the sun.

Britton, on a snorkeling adventure at Disney’s Castaway Key. © Ralph Grizzle

Of course, the Caribbean isn’t just for families or kids. I’ve enjoyed many cruises in the Caribbean sans kids. One of my top experiences was with SeaDream in the British Virgin Islands. That’s SeaDream in the photo below, pictured beside Royal Caribbean’s Oasis of the Seas. Quite a contrast in size and in experience.

SeaDream Yacht Club docked alongside Oasis of the Seas. © Ralph Grizzle

Also see …

The Baltic

On my first assignment to write about Scandinavia, I met with tourism officials for what was then a new organization called Cruise Baltic. Their challenge, the officials told me, was to educate people that the Baltics are not the same as the Balkans. During the 1990s, the Balkans had been in repeated wars, often described as the deadliest since World War II. The Baltic had no such wars during that period, yet people confused the two regions because the names are so similar.

On location: filming in Nyhavn, Copenhagen’s colorful harbor.

During my two weeks in Scandinavia on that initial assignment, I was smitten. For one thing, in Copenhagen, the primary means of getting around was (and still is) the bicycle, and as a lifelong avid cyclist, I felt I had found my home. In fact, wanting to live in a bike-friendly culture, I moved to Denmark in 2007, then across the Oresund to Sweden shortly thereafter. I remained in Sweden until 2016, and during those nine years learned a great deal about Scandinavia and the Baltic region. See my video featuring the city where I lived, Helsingborg, Sweden

The Hermitage seen from Palace Square in Saint Petersburg, Russia © Ralph Grizzle

Baltic cruises typically begin and end in either Stockholm or Copenhagen. Both are remarkable cities that merit staying for a couple of days before or after your cruise. Baltic itineraries can include ports of call in GermanyNorwaySwedenDenmarkPolandLatviaLithuaniaEstoniaRussia and Finland.

One of my favorite things about Baltic cruises is the long days. During mid-summer, the sky never totally darkens. That can make it hard to sleep, not only because of the light but also because when you’re cruising you want to get up and look at the beauty of the sea at all hours of the night.

Britton Frost & Ralph Grizzle
Crossing Sweden with my 17-year-old daughter, Britton, on the Gota Canal.

It’s appropriate to include Norway in this section on Baltic itineraries. The country’s rugged coastline is among the world’s most beautiful. But did you know that cruising the Norwegian coastline is not limited just to spring, summer and fall? Winter cruises in Norway can be spectacular. See my story Winter Cruising In Norway: A Shore Excursion After Midnight, Chasing The Northern Lights

Northern Lights
The Northern Lights. © Ralph Grizzle

Also see …

The Mediterranean

What’s not to love in the Med? In fact, few cruising regions offer the cultural and historical diversity of the Mediterranean. On a Mediterranean cruise vacation, you can spend time exploring the beginnings of the Greek and Roman empires, visiting the vestiges of the Crusades and the Ottoman rulers, marveling at the power and the glory of the ancient pharaohs, and walking religious sites cherished by Christians, Jews, and Muslims — or you can sit in a street café to do nothing at all but watch the world pass.

Mediterranean cruises come in two flavors: Eastern Mediterranean and Western Mediterranean. Think of the toe of the Italian “boot” as the dividing line. On one side are Western Mediterranean itineraries, which cover Spain, France, the west coast of Italy (including Sicily) and occasionally Tunisia. On the other side are Eastern Mediterranean itineraries, which visit the Adriatic Coast, Greek Isles, Turkey, Egypt, the Holy Lands and Cyprus.

My son Alex taking a splash in Malta.

Cinematographer Chris Stanley and I worked in the Med filming for Seabourn between 2014 and 2016. We got to know the region well. You’ll find most of the videos we produced on Avid Cruiser’s Port Profiles page. The videos give you a taste of what you can experience ashore in the Med.

Shore excursion advise
Cinematographer Chris Stanley and I spent a lot of time in the Med filming shore excursions for Seabourn. It’s a region we got to know well. Pictured in Chania, Greece, on the island of Crete.

Traditionally, cruisers who have explored the Mediterranean will follow-up with a voyage to Northern Europe, even though many people are now choosing to make the Baltic their first European destination.

Watch a few of our video productions …

Russia’s Far East

Bet you didn’t expect this one. Russia’s Far East probably ranks as my favorite cruise ever. I say probably because it is hard to name a winner with so many great experiences vying for top place. Russia’s Far East, however, was unlike anything I’d ever done before. We crossed the Bering Sea, leaving Nome, Alaska, to Provideniya, often referred to as the Doorway to the Arctic.

SilverDiscoverer_Russia
Russia’s Far East, with Silversea’s Silver Explorer in the background. © 2014 Ralph Grizzle

What Alex and I found there was a region rich in culture and wildlife. We Zodiac’d ashore to native settlements or we’d venture out in Zodiacs for wildlife encounters. On one day we sat in the Zodiac photographing in a sea of what appeared to be hundreds of walruses. On another day, we ventured out to find a couple of lonely reindeer herders, who we brought back to the ship for dinner, before taking them back to the mosquito-infested tundra. We counted 23 bear on the shoreline that day. No wonder the reindeer herders carried rifles. On yet another day, the captain held our position so that we could watch hundreds of Orca feed.

Reindeer herders who we brought back to the ship.

Check out the video …

Also see my day-by-day voyage report …

Antarctica

I’ve been fortunate to have cruised to (and from) Antarctica three times now. Why cross the dreaded Drake Passage to set foot on Antarctica? During one of my trips, a Seabourn expedition leader summed it up nicely: “It’s as close to another planet as most people will ever get.”

Indeed, Antarctica is other-worldly. It is a place teeming with wildlife. Rather than try to describe it in words, I’ll let these videos show you why Antarctica is such a special place.

Also see …

Five More Itineraries?

Composing this post was fun for me, as it forced me to take a stroll down memory lane. I realized, however, that I had only scratched the surface. What about that cruise in Greenland? The Faroe Islands? The cruise from Buenos Aires to Santiago? New Zealand and Australia? Alaska was great, as was New England and Canada. And I didn’t even touch on the rivers. Seems that I have more to share, and maybe you do too. What about you? Which five would you pick for your favorite cruise itineraries?

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