How to Choose the Best Cruise Destination

best cruise itinerary where to cruises
Every cruise itinerary has its strengths and weaknesses. - Photo by Paul Gauguin

The Caribbean may be the most popular cruise destination, but it's far from the only one. Cruises sail all over the world, from Alaska to Asia and New England to the Mediterranean. A Caribbean sailing is often the best bet for Americans new to cruising, but that doesn't mean you shouldn't at least consider the more niche destinations. Check out our handy evaluation of the most common cruise routes — and their strengths and weaknesses:

Tip: Want personalized recommendations? Our handy quiz will tell you where you should take your next cruise based on your interests.

Alaska

alaska cruise sailing glacier bay

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Common Routes: 10-night routes from San Francisco, 7 night-routes from Seattle or Vancouver.

Highs: You’ll see glaciers, fjords, and plenty of wildlife, especially otters and whales.

Lows: There’s crowding in many port towns, and the region gets a lot of rainfall.

 

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Asia - Andaman Sea​

asia cruise sailing itinerary route

Photo by SIME / eStockPhoto

Common Routes: 3- to 7-night routes from Singapore, Malaysia, and Thailand.

Highs: Stunning temples and unforgettably flavorful Asian cuisine.

Lows: Many beaches — except Langkawi’s — are narrow and overrun by reckless jet skiers.

 

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Asia - Gulf of Thailand and South China Sea​

vietnam crusie asia sailing itinerary route

Photo by AmaWaterways

Common Routes: 10- to 14-night routes from Singapore or Hong Kong to Vietnam and Thailand.

Highs: Expect gilded temples, diverse and delicious cuisines, and great shopping.

Lows: Some sights are a two- to three-hour drive — one way! — from the port.

 

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Baltic

baltic northern europe cruise sailing itinerary

Photo by Crystal Cruises

Common Routes: 7- to 14-night routes from Copenhagen, Amsterdam, Harwich, Dover, or London (Southampton) to St. Petersburg, Russia, and Baltic ports or the Norwegian Fjords.

Highs: Gilded St. Petersburg charms us, as does the beauty of the Norwegian fjords.

Lows: Expect long lines at key sights in Russia.

 

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Caribbean - Eastern

eastern caribbean best itinerary route

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Common Routes: 7-night routes round trip from Florida or Puerto Rico.

Highs: There are gorgeous beaches throughout the region, and plenty of snorkeling and diving.

Lows: You’ll find overcrowding and traffic in port towns, as well as shopping areas designed just for tourists.

 

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Caribbean - Southern​

southern caribbean best cruise sailing itinerary

Photo by SIME / eStockPhoto

Common Routes: 7- to 14-night routes from Puerto Rico, Barbados, or St. Martin.

Highs: Fewer crowds than eastern and western Caribbean, excellent beaches, more port stops and fewer seadays.

Lows: Longer — and sometimes more expensive — flights home.

 

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Caribbean - Western

best crusie western caribbean mayan ruins

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Common Routes: 7-night routes round trip from Florida, Louisiana, and Texas.

Highs: Mayan ruins and great silver jewelry shopping (in Mexico), and eco-excursions on most routes, from jungle hikes to kayaking, tubing, snorkeling, and diving.

Lows: Overcrowding and traffic jams in port towns, as well as shopping areas designed just for tourists.

 

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Mediterranean - Eastern​

eastern mediterranean venice best cruise route

Photo by Viking Ocean Cruises

Common Routes: 7- to 14-night routes from Venice, Istanbul, or Piraeus (Athens) to Turkey, Greece, Croatia, and Italy.

Highs: Important historic sights date back thousands of years.

Lows: Venice, Athens, Istanbul, and Rhodes are packed in the summer, and Italy is expensive.

 

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Mediterranean - Western

best cruise rome eastern mediterranean route

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Common Routes: 7- to 14-night routes from Barcelona or Civitavecchia (Rome) to Spain, France, Monte Carlo, and Italy.

Highs: Look for spectacular food throughout the region. Barcelona, Rome, and Florence are home to significant artwork.

Lows: It’s an hour’s drive to Florence and longer from port to Rome. August is peak tourist season, and what isn’t closed, is packed.

 

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Join The Discussion

What is your favorite route?

2 Comments

Posted by TaraBonVoyage

Hi Soha! Thank you for your kind words. We’re so glad you enjoyed these tips. Be sure to check out our Cruising 101 section (http://cruiseline.com/bonvoyage/cruising-101) for lots more helpful advice with your cruise booking.

Posted by soha

Hey Heidi.. Very thankful to you for sharing travel article for choosing cruise itinerary.. Till now I have taken help of JoGuru Vacation planner http://www.joguru.com/ to plan my long distance trips but now will be surely using your tips for cruise itinerary booking.

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