Cruising's 6 Hottest Regions in 2013

Editor's note: This story is from Critic Archives. Content was up date at time publication.

With so much emphasis placed on ships themselves, from zip-lining and massive waterslides Michelin-quality restaurants greasy burger joints, it's sometimes hard remember that a big part is seeing that lies beyond lido deck.

If you're looking an entirely new region or even just try out a few different ports on a favorite itinerary, read on find out which destinations we think are buzzworthy this year.

Hands down most popular region in for travelers, is surprisingly vast, with ports call whose charms run gamut from eco-oriented and historic to beachy and retail-friendly. ships, though, tend visit same dozen marquee ports -- Thomas, Cozumel, Jamaica's trio, San Juan, Maarten, Maya and Cayman, among others -- but a few new entrants are worth checking out.

The Port: Croix

, popular for scuba diving and snorkeling, historic town Christiansted and its gorgeously mountainous interior, had been a mainstay until crime-related issues made leery in early 2000's. has demonstrated a commitment security, and ships are returning its main port Frederikstad, which has attractive new facilities.

Who's Going: Eclipse, 's Jewel , 's Maasdam, 's Silver , 's Brilliance , Summit

Port: Martinique

One four islands that are departments , Martinique is another port worth a detour. It's got a beguiling blend attractions that include fantastic beaches on southern end, a rain forest and volcano (with black-sand beaches) on the northern end, and the cosmopolitan city Fort--, which feels as as it does , in middle.

Who's Going: ' Wind Surf, 's Jewel , 's Noordam, ' Clipper, Compagnie du 's Le Boreal, Luminosa, Lirica

/New Zealand

and New Zealand are two fastest-growing markets in , and that's good news for everyone; with more demand, are deploying a record number ships, including newer and bigger models (such as Solstice, 's Oosterdam, and 's Voyager ). More ships mean a greater choice itineraries, more contemporary amenities such as balconies and a dining options, and a better chance snag a good deal.

Port: Tauranga

New Zealand's Tauranga, on , is a great jumping-off spot for one of 's most idyllic (and confounding) tourist attractions: Hobbiton, whimsical property that has served as movie set for all Jackson's " Lord Rings" and "Hobbit" films. Initially developed in 1999 from about 50 acres farmland, Hobbiton has been massively refurbished over past couple years (most recent addition: Green Dragon Inn) and is meant replicate author's original vision. But Tauranga isn't just a port for Hobbit fans. city on Bay Plenty is also well-situated for visits Mount Maunganui for nature exploration and surfing, and Rotorua for geothermal activities and Maori culture.

Who's Going: , 's Marina, Diamond , Sun , 's Silver Shadow,

While 's marquee ports, such as Hong Kong, Shanghai, Singapore and Yokohama (for Tokyo), are well-established destinations, we've got our eye on places that are newly emerging on itineraries. Check out our two must-visits for this year.

Port: Burma (Myanmar)

Since Burma, more recently known as Myanmar, has begun open itself , its appeal as a destination has begun grow. Known for its temples and shrines, two popular options are available for cruisers. Bigger ships dock about an hour or so outside main city Rangoon (Yangon) and often feature multiday stays that include shore tours to more remote locales. , with their smaller ships, use Rangoon begin more in-depth towns and villages along Irrawaddy .

Who's Going: ' RV Katha , ' II, Journey, Quest, & 's Road Mandalay


For Mekong Delta that from Vietnam Cambodia, Ho Chi Minh City, brash and bold New York City Vietnam, is itinerary's primary attraction. After that, riverboats, most carrying fewer than 150 passengers, meander along delta, visiting villages, holy sites and shrines. Another major highlight is a tour to Angkor Wat, one 's most important archeological sites (housing ninth- 15th-century remains Khmer Empire). It's a cornerstone Mekong Delta experience.

Who's Going: ' RV Indochina, ' RV Mekong , ' Angkor, 's Orchid, 's Saigon


Vast and varied, in Europe, whose popularity is second only , includes numerous itinerary choices around Mediterranean, Baltic , Fjords, Black , and , along with inland such as Rhine, Seine, Danube, Rhone and Duoro.

Port: Istanbul

Istanbul's enviable location on Bosphorus means it's hub several powerhouse itineraries, from Black Greek Isles and onward. Beyond that, city, 's only cover two continents (western Istanbul lies in Europe, while Eastern Istanbul lies in ), is in midst a major renaissance. Its blend contemporary art and culture with a vibrant culinary scene and more traditional marquee mosques and markets beckons tourists again and again.

Who's Going: Symphony, 's I, Journey, Constellation, 's Nieuw Amsterdam, Spirit, 's , Fascinosa, ' Wind Spirit, Sunshine


If you're yawning at thought another voyage but don't want shell out money for a Africa, or , don't worry -- it's becoming easier find sailings from and within United States. As an adds an exciting twist Hawaii sailings and new riverboats are added mighty Mississippi, you might do well keep an eye out for new options close home, which offer everything from pink-sand beaches comfort food via itineraries that showcase two vastly different cultures.

Port: Hawaii

For beach-lovers, Hawaii offer a alternative with a different feel. This region, which gained traction in early 2000's, is resurging, due in part arrival ships such as Safari ' Safari Explorer, which carries only 36 passengers and focuses on nature, culture and what there is see and do on islands, rather than what's onboard. In addition, 's Hawaii staple, Pride , will receive refurbishments in first part year, adding more cabins -- notably solo cabins -- and a Brazilian-style steakhouse. Because both ships are registered in United States, they can spend their time sailing only around the Hawaiian islands, which means fewer days for passengers and more time in port.

Who's Going: Safari ' Safari Explorer, 's Pride , Solstice, Miracle, 's Westerdam, 's Radiance , Sapphire

Port: Mississippi

With two ships introduced ply waters Mississippi last year, we expect riverboating rise in popularity in 2013. Cruisers who book on 's Mississippi or 's can expect a decent dose 1800's Americana, including southern cuisine, calliope music and enough lore captivate even most discerning history buff. nice part about these sailings is that they're able call on ports up and down Mississippi , including New Orleans, Pittsburgh, Louisville, Cincinnati, Louis and Memphis, among others.

Who's Going: 's Mississippi, 's


While Africa's Egypt, Morocco and Tunisia have become popular destinations for travelers -- at least in pre-Arab Spring days -- continent's southernmost cities have struggled appeal. Part problem is location; intriguing cities such as Cape Town require longer with lots days, which put them out reach for many. But we're seeing a change ...

Port: Cape Town

A number operators, including well-regarded , have created /land tour combos aboard upmarket Zambezi . In addition four-night , which visit safari parks and villages, travelers also spend a few days in Cape Town and visit Zambia's breathtaking Falls.

Who's Going: ' Zambezi , Serenity, 's Amsterdam, , 's Black Watch, 's Silver Whisper, 's Mary 2, Sinfonia

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