The Caribbean. Alaska. Hawaii. Mexico.
These scenic, fun and fascinating places are among the most popular cruise destinations in the entire world. They are especially appealing for North American travelers who can easily get to the departure port. Travelers from further afield also appreciate the picturesque coasts, beaches and islands in and around North America.
It’s fun to visit multiple islands on a tropical vacation – but all that packing/unpacking: not so much fun. That’s why a cruise makes perfect sense. Island-hop between Oahu, Maui, Kauai and the Big Island, retreating to your floating tropical resort after days ashore beachcombing, snorkeling, exploring active volcanoes, hiking among waterfalls and visiting galleries.
Depart from the west coast, and during your days crossing the Pacific Ocean, take advantage of your ship’s offerings – ranging from computer workshops to spa treatments or more active pursuits such as gym workouts and yoga.
By Hollywood standards, an Alaska cruise is the quintessential action adventure – starring larger-than-life characters (from breaching whales to lumbering bears) along with a supporting cast of soaring eagles and playful sea otters. The set: sky-piercing mountain peaks and dark green primordial forests; the lighting: sunshine at midnight; the soundtrack: the thunder of calving glaciers. Adventure lovers can go kayaking in Sitka, glacier trekking in Juneau and fishing for halibut in Ketchikan.
Sail from Seattle, San Francisco, Vancouver or Seward (Anchorage). To get the most bang for your travel buck, combine your cruise with a land package in the Great Land.
Read more about what to expect on an Alaskan Cruise >>
One quick way to bring sunshine into your life? Head south of the border to friendly Mexico.
Sailing from San Francisco, Los Angeles, San Diego or Vancouver, visit Cabo San Lucas (look forward to whale watching in the Sea of Cortez between January and March); Mazatlan (fish for marlin November to May; sailfish April to November); and Puerto Vallarta, a mecca for golfers with world-class courses framed by vistas of the Sierra Madre Mountains and azure Pacific. On some voyages, you’ll also enjoy a day in California’s beautiful Santa Barbara.
First and foremost, the Panama Canal is a “route” a way for ships to avoid lengthy cruises around the horn of South More than 100 years after its hard-fought creation, the canal is a destination unto itself. There are three sets of locks at each end to lift ships up to Gatun Lake, an artificial lake created to reduce the amount of excavation work required for the canal, 85 feet above sea level. The current locks are 110 feet wide. A third, wider lane of locks is under construction and is due to open in 2016.
Cruise lines offer full transits or partial transits that depart and return from the homeport without fully traversing the canal. Most Panama Canal cruises take place in spring or fall as cruise ships reposition between Alaska and the Caribbean.
Read a first hand account of traversing the Panama Canal >>
Think hammocks and flip-flops, palm trees and piña coladas. When it’s time to de-stress, the don’t-worry-be-happy Caribbean is a sure bet. Nearly every cruise line sails these turquoise seas so you have plenty of options in terms of itineraries and ships. Families may want to consider one of the mega-ships with their something-for-everyone offerings.
For those desiring a more intimate experience, Cruise Specialists agents are well versed in small ship cruise lines that offer a yacht-like experience. Imagine sailing away from a picture-perfect island as your ship’s tall-masted sails billow in the breeze. There’s just about every activity imaginable: swimming, snorkeling, diving and other watersports. You can also visit Mayan ruins, sample fresh-from-the-vine fruits and spices, or learn about the diverse cultures that make the islands of the Caribbean so unique.
CANADA & NEW ENGLAND
There’s no shortage of things you can do on a voyage encompassing North America’s Eastern Seaboard. In Canada: Reel in fish in New Brunswick, go whale-watching in Nova Scotia, comb the beaches on Prince Edward Island, and explore Quebec City, whose Old Town is a UNESCO World Heritage site. In New England: Walk Boston’s Freedom Trail, ride a mountain bike along the carriage trails of Acadia National Park, and drool over the summer cottages (better known as mansions) in Newport, Rhode Island.
The best time of year to visit: autumn, with its showcase of brightly-colored leaves. As seasonal changes can be somewhat unpredictable, we recommend a 14-day cruise to maximize your chances of seeing this remarkable performance by Mother Nature. A number of itineraries begin or end in New York City, allowing you to extend your vacation in the Big Apple.
Checkout our recent onboard review of a New England Fall Foliage Cruise >>
U.S. RIVER CRUISING
European river voyages get a lot of press, and it may be a sign of things to come for the emerging U.S. river cruise market. CLIA recently named the Pacific Northwest as one of the top six global “unexpected river cruise destinations.” Travelers can re-trace the route pioneered by Lewis and Clark on the Columbia and Snake Rivers.
Catch spectacular scenery along the Columbia River Gorge or take a jet boat ride through Idaho’s Hell’s Canyon as part of your journey. The other major river cruise option in the United States is the Mississippi River. One popular option runs between New Orleans and Memphis, showcasing bayous and woodlands, palatial mansions and tree-lined streets. Sample Cajun and Creole foods and enjoy a slice of Americana with live jazz, blues, country, bluegrass and even some rock and roll. Onboard experts play an important role in sharing the history and lore of the region.
No matter where you want to go, our team has the knowledge to create the perfect cruise vacation for you!