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.
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.
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.
Also see …
- Avid Cruiser Voyages: Western Caribbean Cruises
- Avid Cruiser Voyages: Big Ship Caribbean
- Avid Cruiser Voyages: Small-ship Caribbean
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.
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
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 Germany, Norway, Sweden, Denmark, Poland, Latvia, Lithuania, Estonia, Russia 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.
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
Also see …
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.
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.
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 …
- Camogli, Futtuoso & Portofino, Italy
- Rethymnon & Arkadi Monastery, Greece
- Montpellier and Flaugergues Castle, France
- Sete Covered Market Adventures
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.
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.
Check out the video …
Also see my day-by-day voyage report …
- Boarding In Nome To Cruise Russia’s Far East
- Crossing The International Date Line, Exploring Provideniya
- Our Suite, Plus Visiting Cape Navarin and Gabriela Bay, Russia
- Walrus Watching, Beach Campfires & Rosy Sunsets
- Silver Discoverer Shoreside Exploring
- Visiting An Abandoned Whaling Village & A Story Of Romeo Sans Juliet
- Visiting A Remote Tymlat Village, Plus, An Interview With Conrad Combrink
- Talking Photography With Richard Sidey
- In Pursuit Of The Reindeer Herders
- Better Than Summer Camp, Teens & Adults Learn To Master Photography While Exploring
- Enmelen Village, Rudera Cape, Preobrazheniya Bay, and Achen Lagoon
- A Stop In Enmelen Village and Rudera Cape On Silver Discoverer
- Cruising Preobrazheniya Bay and Achen Lagoon
- Passports Please, A Technical Stop In Provideniya, Russia
- Heading Home To Nome & Our Voyage Recap Of Russia’s Far East
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 …
- Summing It Up: Antarctica Explored, A Photo A Day
- Recap Of Our Antarctic Voyage On Silver Cloud
- Antarctica Expedition Cruise: How To Make Crossing The Drake Passage Tolerable
- Which Ship Is Right For My Antarctic Cruise?
- Recap Of An Antarctic Adventure & Four Reasons To Consider An Antarctic Cruise
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?