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Disney Wonder docked in Juneau, Alaska (Photo: Aaron Saunders)
Disney Wonder docked in Juneau, Alaska (Photo: Aaron Saunders)

5 Best Summer Cruises to Take Right Now

Disney Wonder docked in Juneau, Alaska (Photo: Aaron Saunders)
Disney Wonder docked in Juneau, Alaska (Photo: Aaron Saunders)
Contributor
Mikkel Woodruff

Last updated
Mar 1, 2024

Read time
4 min read

Planning for a seasonal vacation is easy with these five best summer cruises. There are fantastic, varied options to choose from, whether you're craving sand and sun or ice-capped landscapes with natural environments that will wow you.

Cruise lines have gotten creative over the years, offering more options than ever from destinations far and wide — from Alaska to the Mediterranean — from June through September.

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1. Cruises to the Western Mediterranean

The Pantheon in Rome (Photo: Aaron Saunders)
The Pantheon in Rome (Photo: Aaron Saunders)

You can't go wrong with a Western Mediterranean cruise, exploring countries like Italy, Spain, Greece, Croatia, and Cyprus. These destinations are rich with historical sites from Pompeii to the Acropolis of Athens.

European culture, especially during summer, calls for al fresco dining as you forget all your cares with an Aperol Spritz in one hand and a forkful of pasta in the other. You'll love the rhythm of flamenco music in Spain and find it hard to resist snapping excessive photos of the iconic villages in Greece.

With plenty of airlines flying to the famous cities where Mediterranean cruises start and end, booking your flights and starting your countdown to embarkation day for your summer vacation is easy.

2. Take a Cruise to Norway

Hurtigruten Coastal's ms Polarlys in Geirangerfjord, Norway (Photo/Agurtxane Concellon)
Hurtigruten Coastal's ms Polarlys in Geirangerfjord, Norway (Photo/Agurtxane Concellon)

Two particular summer itineraries in Norway offer very different types of cruises, yet both take you to mind-blowing destinations. Luckily, the days are longer in the Arctic during summer no matter where you go, thanks to the midnight sun. Extra daylight means you'll have more time to enjoy sightseeing in each port of call and during your days at sea.

Take a Norwegian fjords cruise if you crave lush, green landscapes with charming, walkable, historic city centers. Explore cities like Bergen with its Bryggen, a historic harbor that is a UNESCO World Heritage Centre.

Conversely, you can cruise to Svalbard and escape the summer heat. This cool-cation takes you to Norway's famed archipelago, a gorgeous and remote destination with nine main islands, best explored by cruise. Get your cameras ready to capture incredible glaciers, frozen tundras, and extreme wildlife — you may spot a polar bear walking on the ice or beluga whales rising from the water as they glide alongside your ship.

Plus, lines like Hurtigruten and Viking sail here year-round, making the choice easy if you'd rather experience Norway in the winter, too.

3. Cruise to Alaska

Discovery Princess in Ketchikan, Alaska (Photo: Aaron Saunders)
Discovery Princess in Ketchikan, Alaska (Photo: Aaron Saunders)

If the idea of cruising to a cool climate is appealing, but you want to explore the United States and Western Canada, go to Alaska. The temperatures can vary during summer from cool days in the 50's to rarer warm days in the 70's, but one thing's for sure: the stunning scenery, history and cultural aspects of Alaska will remain with you forever.

Cruise ships big and small explore Alaska, with most large ships leaving from Pacific Northwest ports like Seattle and Vancouver. Smaller expedition ships leave from within Alaska, like from Sitka or Ketchikan.

However you arrive, exploring The Last Frontier will be an experience like none other. Your captain will navigate glacial waters, and the cruise ship will dock in cities where you can hike through national parks and explore charming Alaskan towns -- not to mention enjoy a great food and brewery scene.

Holland America Line and Princess Cruises maintain the largest presence in Alaska, but numerous other lines sail regularly from Vancouver, Canada and Seattle.

4. Cruise Canada & New England's Seaside Beauty

Halifax (Photo:Maurizio De Mattei/Shutterstock)
Halifax (Photo:Maurizio De Mattei/Shutterstock)

Explore the Northeast United States, Canada's Maritime Provinces and Quebec with a summer cruise to Canada and New England. In a summer destination region with perfectly moderate temperatures, you'll discover the splendor of places like Quebec City, Prince Edward Island, Halifax, Boston, and Bar Harbor. Bring layers because days may be warm, but nights on the water may get chilly!

Imagine dining on lobster after seeing the view from Acadia National Park's Cadillac Mountain or learning about the Scottish culture that adds to the vibrancy of Prince Edward Island. Depending on the year's temperatures in the months leading to September, you may be treated to an early taste of fall as the colors of the leaves begin to change during a late summer cruise -- but for the best fall foliage opportunities, we recommend returning in late September through October.

5. Don't Forget About the Southern Caribbean

Holland America's Eurodam in Curacao (Photo: Aaron Saunders)
Holland America's Eurodam in Curacao (Photo: Aaron Saunders)

Caribbean cruises are popular year-round for good reason. Few things are more relaxing than looking at the turquoise waters of the Caribbean Sea with a drink in your hand as the steel drum music fills the air. It's known that hurricane season in the Caribbean is from June through November.

It's not as well known that the Southern Caribbean islands are less threatened by hurricanes than the Eastern Caribbean Islands. There also tend to be fewer tourists in the Southern Caribbean because fewer cruise ships sail the area.

Get excited for ports in countries like St. Lucia, Aruba, and Barbados, to name a few. Enjoy the beaches, snorkeling, and Caribbean cuisine. Remember to bring your sunscreen! The tropical sun is intense, especially during summer.

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