Do you dream of sailing in to the sunset without a care in the world? Going on a cruise can be the perfect way to make this dream come true. If you’re considering taking your very first cruise, think about the various advantages. A cruise vacation offers great value as almost everything is included, from accommodation and food to entertainment and transfers. The best part is that even if you’re hitting multiple destinations, you need to unpack only once; it’s like taking your home along on a vacation! Need more inspiration? Take a look at our pick for the 5 best places to go on a cruise.
The most popular cruise destination in the world, the Caribbean sees cruise ships operating all year round in the region. A Caribbean cruise offers great value for money as you can visit multiple islands without having to worry about air tickets, visas, booking different hotels and paying through your nose for island transport. Take your pick from various Caribbean cruises – Eastern (includes Antigua, Barbados, Dominica, Martinique and St Kitts), Western (includes the Cayman Islands, Jamaica and Mexico) or Southern (includes Aruba, Trinidad & Tobago, amongst others). Some of the more up-market cruises may also include a day on a private island such as Castaway Cay (especially for families) and Half Moon Cay (for couples). Caribbean beaches also offer a host of activities, from horse riding on the beach to swimming with dolphins. A Caribbean cruise makes for a great family getaway.
Port of Departure: Most Caribbean cruises depart from one of the gateway ports in Florida
Best time: Between November and May, with December to April being peak season
If breathtaking scenery, wildlife and some spectacular glaciers are what you wish to see, consider Alaska – it is truly one of the best places to go on a cruise. An Alaskan cruise is an introduction to the biggest state in the United States. It’s the most popular cruise destination in the world after the Caribbean. Cruises cover some spectacular fjords, glaciers and mountains along Alaska’s coastline, as well as many islands, bays and inlets. All cruises go along the so-called Inside Passage, which is a mind-boggling labyrinth of islands, fjords and mountains. This route starts from Vancouver and goes all the way up to Juneau, the quirky capital of Alaska. It also includes Glacier Bay National Park. Some cruises go beyond Juneau to the Gulf of Alaska. A week long cruise also includes on-land tour by coach, followed by a three day exploration of the Denali National Park.
Port of Departure: Cruises generally depart from San Francisco, Seattle or Vancouver
Best time: Early May to mid-September, with June to August being peak season
Southern Europe is the place for some sun and sand and a cruise in the Mediterranean Sea is one of the best ways to enjoy this region. The natural beauty of the area will leave you breathless and it is well worth soaking in the diverse cultures of the countries here. From gorgeous Italy to sunny Spain, from the vast Greek islands to tiny Malta – Mediterranean cruises cover the best of Europe. Eastern Mediterranean cruises generally include Turkey and the Greek islands of Santorini, Mykonos and Crete. The Western Mediterranean cruises include destinations such as Venice, Rome and Sicily in Italy, Monte Carlo, St. Tropez and Barcelona. The Southern Mediterranean cruises touch upon Morocco, Tunisia and Egypt. If you’re looking for luxury, head to the Italian or French Riviera where you can rub shoulders with the rich and famous and maybe spot a celebrity or two. If you have kids in tow, most cruises have loads of entertainment options for them – on board and ashore. From books, toys and video games to swimming, snorkelling and kayaking, the little ones will be spoilt for choice.
Port of Departure: These cruises sail from many ports, depending upon their routes. Athens, Barcelona, Lisbon and Venice are some popular departure points
Best time: April through November, with May to August being peak season
Say ‘aloha’ to Hawaii by taking a cruise around this archipelago of eight main islands. Formed due to the volcanic activity of an undersea mountain range, Hawaii is all about wild natural beauty. Most cruises cover the islands of Maui, Oahu, Kauai, Molokai, Lanai, Niihau and Kahoolawe. Each island has something unique to offer; from cascading waterfalls in Maui as well as the Haleakala National Park, to hiking in Oahu and the four-wheel adventure trails in Kauai, which is also home to the impressive Waimea Canyon. Honolulu’s Waikiki Beach and Diamond Head Mountain are also worth a visit. Go surfing, soak up the sun on clean, sandy beaches, or participate in a traditional luau (a traditional Hawaiian party or feast). Kids will love the whale watching expeditions as well as rock climbing. Most cruises cater to children on-board with video game arcades, swimming pools and activity hours.
Port of Departure: Cruises generally depart from Honolulu
Best time: December to April, with December to January being peak season
Australia & New Zealand
Australia and New Zealand are also amongst the best places to go on a cruise. Apart from Sydney’s iconic landmarks, these cruises call at many ports such as Noumea (New Caledonia), Port Vila (Vanuatu), Port Denarau (Fiji) and others. Australia-specific cruises cover Queensland, Newcastle, Brisbane, Melbourne, Adelaide and sometimes Tasmania. There is a lot of surfing action and miles of beaches to provide all sorts of entertainment for adults as well as kids. The Great Barrier Reef is also one of the top attractions. In New Zealand, cruises cover the two main islands, South Island and North Island, as well as numerous small islets. The North Island has rare black sand beaches and the world's yacht racing capital, Auckland. On the South Island, you will find mountains and glaciers. You can also combine your cruise with a land tour extension to take in the natural beauty, several UNESCO heritage sites, local wineries, national parks and much more. The Maori culture in New Zealand is also worth exploring, not to mention the extensive and gorgeous vistas portrayed in Lord of the Rings.
Port of Departure: Most cruises depart from Sydney or Auckland
Best time: November to April, with December to March being peak season
So, head to these wonderful destinations and book your holiday today.