(7 a.m. EST) -- An exotic mix of cruise destinations have globetrotting industry experts drooling, a recent top 10 list reveals -- and the massively popular Mediterranean doesn't even crack the top five.
A panel of 13 journalists and U.K.-based cruise line executives -- industry celebrities if you will -- voted Alaska their favourite cruise destination, followed by the Galapagos, the Arctic and Antarctica.
William Gibbons, director of the Passenger Shipping Association, summed up Alaska's charm: "Watching black bears in their natural habitat, catching salmon as they made their way upriver, is a moment I'm unlikely to capture again."
Cultural destinations came next in the list, with the Black Sea and St. Petersburg occupying fifth and sixth spots, the Mediterranean only making an appearance in seventh place (Venice) and eighth (occupied by the whole region – after all, it would surely be churlish to ignore cruising classics like Rome or Barcelona).
The Corinth Canal, not an obvious choice, came ninth, with the Middle East down in tenth position, endorsed by Cruise Critic's own editor in chief, Carolyn Spencer Brown. "Offering a blend of countries of varying customs, cruising in the Middle East is a terrific and relatively hassle-free way to visit cities as disparate as Dubai, Muscat and Aqaba," she told us. "The fact that the sun nearly always shines is another plus!"
The aim of this admittedly light-hearted poll is to highlight the variety of destinations and cruises that will be on show at the forthcoming exhibition, The Cruise Show, sponsored by The Daily Telegraph, which takes place at London Olympia over the weekend of March 27 and 28.
From modest beginnings when it was supported by just a handful of cruise lines, The Cruise Show is now firmly established as the one-stop-shop for discussing your cruise plans with some 50 cruise lines and tour operators, from AMA Waterways to Zegrahm Expeditions.
All the big lines will be represented, including P&O Cruises, Royal Caribbean and NCL, as well as an eclectic range of specialists, among them Hapag-Lloyd, Voyages to Antiquity and Scenic Tours.
There will be plenty of advice and opinion on hand, too, with talks and panel discussions from cruise experts including John Heald, Carnival's famous blogging cruise director; Douglas Ward, author of the Berlitz Guide to Cruising and Cruise Ships and Cruise Critic's own Carolyn Spencer Brown.
Carolyn will be chairing panel discussions on 'Finding the perfect luxury cruise' and 'Finding the perfect family cruise', among other topics, and we'll have a stand at the show, too -- with awesome games and prizes! -- so do come along and say hello.
The exhibition is open from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. on Saturday and 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. on Sunday and costs £10 on the door or £6 in advance. We've also negotiated a special advance booking deal of £4 for our members, so order online at cruisingshow.co.uk or call 0871 230 7158 and quote Cruise Critic for this special price.
--by Sue Bryant, Cruise Critic Contributing Editor
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Cruise Experts Pick Their Top 10 Cruise Destinations
March 8, 2010