How to Choose the Best Cruise Destination
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:
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.
Asia - Andaman Sea
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.
Asia - Gulf of Thailand and South China Sea
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
Mediterranean - Eastern
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.
Mediterranean - Western
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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What is your favorite route?