Stumped on the best destination for your next cruise? With much of the world now accessible by cruise ship, it can be hard to pick exactly which destination is right for your vacation.
Luckily, Cruise Critic has sailed around the globe for you, and we've found the best cruise destinations for every type of passengers. Read on for our choices, as well as some excellent runners-up.
Sure, you could follow the masses and hit the museums of Paris, Rome and Florence. But why not look farther afield and explore even older civilizations? Cruises in Asia -- from Japan and Hong Kong to Vietnam, Cambodia and Myanmar boast UNESCO World Heritage Sites in almost every port. Kyoto alone has 17 of them to visit, including the iconic Kinakju Temple, while Siem Reap in Cambodia is home to Angkor Wat. Beyond the temples, you'll also find gorgeous national parks, manicured gardens, local markets and busy cities with neon skyscrapers. What better way to immerse yourself not only in what came before, but in what will come next?
The British Isles -- comprising England, Scotland, Wales and Ireland -- have castles, museums and history in droves, not to mention a host of literary icons. If you're a lover of literature and all things historic, this is your cruise.
From Bordeaux to Porto to Vienna, the list of potential destinations on European river cruises tend to encompass at least one wine region and a gastronomic capital or two. That makes a European river cruise a must for foodies and oenophiles alike. Consider itineraries such as a Rhone River cruise, cruising the Bordeaux wine region or a Douro River Cruise for spectacular food and wine. Many food and wine cruises have excursions centered on local specialties and vineyards. What's even better is that you can bring your finds back on the ship with you; feel free to uncap that Burgundy and drink it on your balcony.
Tapas in Barcelona. Bouillabaisse in Marseille. Fresh pasta in Rome. When it comes to delicious local specialties and copas with class, it's hard to beat the ports found on a Western Mediterranean itinerary. All the walking you'll do at museums means you can indulge guilt-free, with a glass of local bubbly to buoy your spirits.
There's a reason that nearly every single cruise line runs cruises to the sunny Eastern Caribbean Islands, including the U.S. and British Virgin Islands, St. Maarten/St. Marten, Turks & Caicos and the Bahamas. It's there you'll find that glorious turquoise-blue water and white-sand beaches -- like a postcard come to life. We particularly love the best beach in St. Thomas, Magen's Bay Beach, and Grace Bay Beach in Turks & Caicos. This itinerary might very well define the beaten path, but if you're seeking a tan, this is exactly where you belong.
Bermuda's cruise season might not be as long as the one in the Caribbean, but the beaches are still top-notch. From the famous pink sands of Horseshoe Beach to snorkeling off Elbow Beach, there are enough places on the island for you to spend a full three days splashing around.
It's hard to beat the Bahamas when it comes to family cruises. For one thing, the island nation is a quick sail from Florida ports like Port Canaveral and Miami. For another, there's a range of activities for adults and kids of all ages on several islands. The best of the bunch might be Perfect Day at CocoCay, Royal Caribbean's private island with a chic beach club and incredibly tall waterslides to entertain both adults and children. You'll also find activities like a Nassau pirate tour and access to the all-inclusive water park at Atlantis resort on your itinerary.
The ports in the Western Caribbean, including Belize, Roatan and Honduras, are full of action-packed activities like cave tubing, zip-lining and snorkeling that are sure to entice adventure-seeking teens. Or add a dash of education to your vacation with a friendly visit to Stingray City in Grand Cayman.
There's no cruise out there that packs more history into your journey than a Nile River sailing. The route from Luxor to Aswan contains so many ancient sites that you might end up with temple fatigue, while the upper portion of a Nile Cruise (out of Cairo) takes you right to the famous Pyramids of Giza. Expert guides make the experience worthwhile, and there's usually a refreshing glass of mint tea waiting for you when you return to your boat.
It's hard to avoid history in the Eastern Mediterranean, where Greek, Roman and Byzantine historic sites are a huge draw. Look for itineraries that sail south to Israel to make this a bucket-list history cruise.
Related: Nile River Cruise Tips
Perhaps the most famous (or notorious) of Spain's Balearic Islands, Ibiza is a summertime party capital. Ships dock near Old Town Ibiza, which is home to Playa d'en Bossa, the pulsing heartbeat of the island's day-to-night party scene. Beach clubs mean that even during the day you'll have plenty of time to let loose to international DJs next to pools or right on the sand.
Perhaps you've heard of two little islands called Mykonos and Santorini before? Well, summer is high season for the international party set here, and a cruise visit will put all of the clubs, bars and -- in the case of Mykonos -- beaches you need to tie one on within an easy walk or cab ride. You'll also have plenty of options for romantic date nights, fresh seafood and boutique shopping.
Related: Greek Islands Cruise Tips
Even Darwin was transfixed by the unusual birds and critters that make this South American archipelago their home. Get up-close and personal with sea lions, iguanas, tropical penguins, blue-footed boobies and some of the largest tortoises on planet earth.
The Amazon River basin is home to one of the highest concentrations of biodiversity in the world. With cruises departing from Ecuador, Peru and Brazil, there are several jumping-off points for wildlife spotting along this famous tropical river and its tributaries. Jaguars, capybaras, tapirs, anacondas, squirrel monkeys, toucans and macaws are just some of the awesome animals you might spot on your cruise.
Related: Galapagos Islands Cruise Tips
Sure, the weather is changeable, and you're as likely to be kayaking in the rain as you are to see the sun. With its mountains and glaciers, eagles soaring above and whales surfacing from below -- beautiful Alaska scenery is the reward, no matter what the temperature. Denali National Park, White Pass Railroad and Mendenhall Glacier are a few of the most popular sites on these itineraries. Pack layers and a camera with a zoom lens; this is not the place to rely on your smartphone.
The coastal mountains and fjords of Norway do have the majesty of scale that you'll find in Alaska, though the snowcapped peaks that form the background of all of your Alaska photos might be missing. However, Norway's coast and fjords have their own special magic, including lush valleys, dramatic waterfalls, picturesque towns and -- for a little imaginary scenery -- folklore abundant with trolls and other mythic creatures.
Ah, Tahiti! If romance is on the agenda, take your sweetheart on a Bora Bora romantic tour. There's a reason the islands of the South Pacific scream romance: the azure waters, the green mountain peaks and the Bora Bora beaches that remain relatively untouched (at least compared to the Caribbean). Leave the family at home for this one; it's all about you and your honey.
For adventurous couples -- the kind of people who want to take a surf lesson, ride a Jeep over rocky terrain or fly in a helicopter over molten lava -- a cruise in Hawaii is the ultimate bonding experience.
Related: Hawaii's Best Shore Excursions
Updated June 28, 2022