2015 Member's Choice Awards - Destinations
A journey isn't all about the destination, but a carefully chosen itinerary can turn a good cruise into a great one. Read on for the ports and destinations our users never wanted to leave:
Best Caribbean Port
Philipsburg, St. Maarten - 2.67 / 3
This half-French, half-Dutch island paradise was chosen by our users for the excellent variety of ways to spend your day ashore. While the French side attracts boutique shoppers and foodies, the Dutch side is known for it's gaming and nightlife.
"Fabulous port that is not only very attractive but also offers a ton to do. The waterfront is filled with colorful and tropical foliage, a beach, affordable restaurants and bars, and the shopping is varied and has some of the best prices of the Caribbbean islands." - DeedeeG (read review)
"So much has changed. When you take the ferry to the middle of town, it is gorgeous as you approach. Love the new boardwalk. You can now rent chairs with the new beach area right before entering town." - TheCruzLady (read review)
Charlotte Amalie, St. Thomas: Charlotte Amalie is home to some of the best natural scenery in the Caribbean. Since it's a part of the U.S. Virgin Islands, cruisers are happy to find that their cell phones work and everyone speaks English.
"St. Thomas is one of my favorite Caribbean places to visit. The island is beautiful (go zip lining or take a tour of the island). Be sure to shop at Majestic Jewelers (walking distance from port) for GREAT DEALS on quality diamonds, tanzanite, etc. They make very good deals and duty free!" - derrickgee (read review)
Castries, St. Lucia: At this island paradise, Active cruisers can make the "hike to Heaven" to the top of the picturesque Piton mountains, while those looking to relax can admire them from the comfort of a nearby beach.
"We did the all day, top 10, which was really fantastic. I was impressed with the stop at the artist school/shop and the shopping stops along the way. The scenery was so very outstanding, especially the pitons and the volcano." - marvind44 (read review)
Best Alaskan Port
Glacier Bay - 2.75 / 3.00
So it's not technically a port, but according to our users, passengers sailing through Glacier Bay are treated to breath-taking views that are arguably the best you can get on any cruise without leaving the ship.
"Plan to spend the day on deck . . . you need to have a 360 degree view!" - bscparty (read review)
"Absolutely gorgeous to see, pictures do not do it justice. It was a cold and rainy day but still wonderful. We sat in a hot tub up top and enjoyed the snow capped mountains, awesome experience." - michaeldurhan (read review)
Skagway: Originally settled during the gold rush of the 1890's, Skagway takes cruisers back in time over a hundred years, and nearby Tongass National Forest means nature lovers will have just as much fun as the historians.
"Absolutely loved the train ride. Also the store where the guy makes jewelry as you watch. Took a trolley tour of town with really good driver/storyteller." - gmalea (read review)
Hubbard Glacier: Covering more than 1,350 square miles, the Hubbard Glacier is the largest tidewater glacier in North America. This 300-foot wall of ice is best viewed from the water, making it an ideal cruise destination.
"AWESOME in the true sense of the word. Wonderful maneuvering by the Captain and his staff." - Poochismom (read review)
Best Mediterranean Port
Dubrovnik, Croatia - 2.88 / 3
We always knew Dubrovnik was a favorite of our members, but even we were surprised when we ran the numbers and saw that it was our most popular port in the world by a wide margin. This walled city on the Dalmatian coast of Croatia has been a destination for travelers and artists since the 13th century, and its mix of Gothic, Renaissance, and Baroque architecture continues to attract all types of cruisers.
"OMG what a gorgeous place. Go early and walk the wall around the old town. Amazing views." - RCFan (read review)
"Cable car ride to mountain top is worth the trip. Dubrovnik is a beautiful walled city: a real gem." - jrfgallo (read review)
Rhodes, Greece: Strolling through this walled city and browsing the wares of its vendors was a pleasant surprise to cruisers, some of whom had hardly heard of this Greek island. Virtually everything in the port is accessible by foot, and many members took the “Venice approach,” ditching their maps to get lost in its labyrinthine streets.
"People friendly, food and drink exceptional, shopping wonderful. Must visit." derrickgee (read review)
Malaga, Spain: Well known as the birth place of Picasso and the dessert wines of the same name that come from the Vineyards outside of town, Malaga is loved by our members for its gothic architecture and museums.
"Beautiful city to see and spend time in. Also, this port gives an opportunity to have a guided tour of the Alhambra, which is one of the highlights of the trip. Definitely worth while. Would have liked 2 days in this port." - hansonsy (read review)
Best New England / Canada Port
Bar Harbor, Maine - 2.68 / 3
Acadia National Park is the main draw of this rugged coastal town. The park is home to numerous species of wildlife and Cadillac mountain, the tallest mountain on the U.S. Atlantic coast.
"Sunshine and blue sky and lobster rolls...Yippee. Beautiful fall foliage and a charming town to walk." - susanhwood (read review)
"Magnificent port. Beautiful Acadia National Park, exceptional views. Found unexpectedly fine shopping." - bewcruiser (read review)
Quebec City, Quebec: Ships docking in the capital of Quebec province stop in the Lower Town, an easily strollable maze of street markets beneath the Upper Town, which boasts numerous churches and excellent French-Canadian cuisine.
Charlottetown, Prince Edward Island: The capital and commercial center of Prince Edward Island that inspired the literary classic Anne of Green Gables attracts cruisers with a bustling waterfront and Ardgowan National Historic Park.
"Lots to do here and plenty to see. Have a lobster lunch." - susanhwood (read review)
Best Private Caribbean Island
Castaway Cay - 2.91 / 3
The score for Disney’s private island was so shockingly high that we had to run the numbers twice to make sure we hadn’t messed up our calculations. It turns out that our data was fine, and that this private paradise, with a three-story slide for kids a private beach for adults, is just that special.
"THE BEST EVER!!! Food was awesome, shopping is convenient and a great variety of things to do." - Nurs2b2011 (read review)
Half Moon Cay: On Holland America’s private island, cruisers can fish, parasail, horseback ride, snorkel, enjoy a Bahamas-style BBQ, or simply relax on the white-sand beaches.
"Best of all- the Beach was beautiful and lots to do on the island. This was the highlight of my cruise." - Cruiser08 (read review)
Labadee: Located on a remote stretch of Haiti’s northern coast, Labadee is more of a private peninsula than a private island, but Royal Caribbean’s private 260-acre stretch of sand was adored by Cruiseline.com members for its fantastic beach and epic zip line.
"I love going to Labadee, and cannot believe how much it has built up to do many different things. I first went to Labadee on Royal Caribbean and we had to be tendered in. Now there is a dock, and many more exciting excursions to choose from." - cindyfazzino (read review)
Best Mexican Riviera Port
Cabo, San Lucas - 2.58 / 3
The rock archway of Los Arcos greets cruise ships as they sail into a picturesque harbor that used to shelter treasure ships from the orient. Its beautiful surroundings and its famous black-coral jewelry make Cabo a go-to destination for travelers of all stripes.
"Another awesome port, did some great ATVing, glass bottom boat to Lovers Beach, and the famous Arch, just a wonderful day." - AmyMC (read review)
"Got to visit the Boca de Sierra World Heritage Site to Zip Line, Rappell, rock climb, strap on to a commando bridge throughout spectacular scenery of ravines, clear mountain streams and canyons." - sandraar (read review)
Puerto Vallarta: While Puerto Vallarta is not an easily navigable port, our members that opted for guided excursions had a fantastic time touring the tequila factories, exploring Las Caletas Beach, snorkeling with manta rays, and ziplining through the nearby rainforest.
"Awesome port, we did the ziplining through the River Canopy Tour group, and it was the best ziplining we've ever done." - AmyMC (read review)
Huatulco: A favorite of those who cruise for sun and sand, Huatulco is home beautiful beaches with plenty of coves to explore and waters full of diverse marine life.
"Our favorite port of call. See this city by boat & by land. Picturesque beaches, bays & coves. Drive aslong the Mexican Pacific Coastline. See Organo Bay, Maguey Bay, Chahue Bay & Santa Cruz Bay by boat with open bar. Drive to town of La Crucesita." -glomarrone (read review)
Best Caribbean Departure Port
New Orleans, Louisiana - 2.64 / 3
Most of our members say you have to spend a day in New Orleans before your cruise. We disagree. One day is nowhere near enough to take in the diverse and eclectic culture of this truly unique American city.
"New Orleans rocks. Go early and visit the French Quarter, especially Frenchman street!" - JaysonH (read review)
"Love NOLA need to spend a day or two here before or after the cruise." - joshmoskalski (read review)
San Juan, Puerto Rico: Since it often requires an extra flight, San Juan is a little tougher to reach than most Caribbean departure ports, but it has easy access to the beautiful islands of the Southern Caribbean in addition to being a fantastic destination in its own right.
"Beautiful city. Take a few extra days to enjoy all it has to offer. BioLuminescence Bay is a must." - sewgoddess (read review)
Port Canaveral, Florida: The Kennedy Center and the Merritt Island National Wildlife Refuge are the big tourist draws of Port Canaveral, but the thing our users raved about the most was how painless it was reach the port and get onto their ship.
"So much easier than Miami. My favorite port." - antalxnd (read review)
Best Alaska Departure Port
Seattle, Washington - 2.63 / 3
With excellent seafood and world famous markets, our users ranked the Emerald City as the best way to kick off an Alaska cruise.
"Spent 3 extra days in Seattle and had a wonderful time. Really enjoyed the Pike Market and the area around there. Took a cruise around the Sound area which was very informative. Would recommend to all to enjoy Seattle." - MOGrandma (read review)
"Would recommend spending an extra day exploring Seattle. Beautiful city." - glorobb4(read review)
Vancouver (Canada Place), British Columbia: Vancouver blends the metropolitan and the natural with a great mix of natural scenery and urban landscape. Many of our users recommended a bike ride through Stanley Park or hoping over to the nearby islands for fantastic nature tours.
"If you stay downtown almost everything of interest is within walking distance. Take the Aquabus for great views on the water." - papaly (read review)
Seward (Anchorage), Alaska: For those who want don’t want to waste time sailing from the south, flying to Anchorage and taking the scenic train to Seward immerses you in Alaskan nature from the very beginning.
"Take the train from Anchorage to Seward. It's awesome!" - ron1082 (read review)
Best Mediterranean Departure Port
Venice, Italy - 2.69 / 3
Nearly every inch of this beautiful island is accessible on foot, and the best way to explore is by ducking away from the throngs of tourists headed to San Marco Square and losing yourself in its many alleys and side streets. Staying a few nights in a hotel isn’t always cheap, but missing the chance to stay in one of the world’s most beautiful cities would be a huge mistake.
"You will want to get to Venice a day before to enjoy the beauty of this city." - joselito1959 (read review)
"Venice was wonderful! Take the advise to "get lost in Venice" and explore the side streets. Is is like walking in another world - you feel like it is yours alone." - ktdog (read review)
Barcelona, Spain: The Sagrada Familia, the Picasso Museum and Las Ramblas make this fantastic city worth visiting, but its second-place finish in this category is largely due to the proximity of the cruise port to the city center, which allows for astoundingly easy access to the port.
"The city is amazing. We spent a day before and a day after the cruise exploring. Lots to see. Very metropolitan." - kencarch (read review)
Piraeus (Athens), Greece: Athens is an essential stop on any Eastern Mediterranean itinerary, but there’s so much to see in the home to some of the most important historic sites in Western Civilization that many cruisers arrive a few days early and depart from the nearby port of Piraeus.
"So much to see and not nearly enough time, but fantastic." - dandye (read review)
Best Canada and New England Departure Port
Quebec City, Quebec - 2.62 / 3
After a narrow defeat by Bar Harbor for Best Port, Quebec City reaffirmed it status as the best metropolitan destination on New England and Canadian itineraries. Plus, it’s even more appealing as a departure port thanks to the proximity of the dock to Lower Town.
"It was nice having 2 days here as there was so much to see." - lweisbrod (read review)
Boston, Massachusetts: The countless historical sites around one of America’s oldest cities inspire countless cruisers to arrive a few days early before they head to Port of Boston, which is known for its easy parking and fast boarding.
"Quick and efficient. Took us 20 minutes to go from curb to the Lido deck!" - smilley424 (read review)
New York, New York: While traveling to the Big Apple may be a bit intimidating for cruisers not used to big cities, the photos ops of the Manhattan skyline and the Statue of Liberty are virtually unbeatable.
"Can't beat sailing out of the big apple, past the Statue of Liberty and under the Verrazano Bridge." - vitacco4 (read review)
Bonus: Best Caribbean Itinerary
Western Caribbean - 2.58 / 3
Perfect for cruisers looking for active excursions like bike tours and snorkeling, Western Caribbean itineraries have plenty of sun and sand with ports like Grand Cayman, Cozumel, Belize and Jamaica. Convenience is also a factor, as this route is easy to acces from major ports like Miami and Fort Lauderdale, which limits the number of sea days on your cruise.
"Jamaica was a new port to shop at, nice and clean. Grand Cayman Islands was so dreamy, finest shopping for distinct diamonds and watches. Cancun Mexico's food was so fresh and very historic with the Aztec and Maya ruins, just the best." - doyhabrow (read review)