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Destinations

Cruises visit over 500 ports in 154 countries on all 7 continents. You can embark on your cruise vacation from a wide variety of over 25 American and Canadian ports close to home or exciting and exotic locations around the globe. Along with the perennial favourites - Alaska, Caribbean, Mediterranean and Baltic - there are many "off the beaten track" destinations: Asia, Africa, Amazon, Polar Regions and Trans-ocean cruises.

 

 

Africa

Best known for its exotic wildlife, rolling grasslands, vast deserts and safari adventures, Africa also is a continent of many cultures and beautiful beaches. From Mombasa's Old Town of exotic colors in Kenya to the magnificent wine producing valleys and dramatic views of Cape Town, a cruise to this region of the world offers everything from historic museum visits to close encounters with Zebra. For vacationers who want to go further into Africa or spend more time at embarkation/disembarkation ports, most cruise lines offer escorted safari cruise tour options that take guests into central and eastern Africa, and pre- and post-cruise packages that include in-depth tours of Africa's cities. Some ships visit ports in Africa during world cruises, while others sail voyages from Lisbon (Portugal) and other European countries as well as from India and Cape Town. Itineraries to Africa, for the most part, do not strictly visit only ports on the continent. Stops along the way to Africa may include port calls in the Seychelles, Spain, Greece, India and Egypt. Africa cruise itineraries tend to be longer than most cruises and can last more than 20 days.

Breathtaking scenery, gleaming glaciers, abundant wildlife, and Native American culture are only a few of the spectacular attractions that draw cruise vacationers to Alaska. With so much to see and do in Alaska, it's no wonder the state's official flower is the alpine forget-me-not!

Ships that visit Alaska on a seven-day itinerary typically sail along the Inside Passage and visit Glacier Bay National Park or Hubbard Glacier, stopping at four ports along the way. Most cruise lines also offer a variety of extended cruise-tour package options which take passengers deeper into Alaska via train and include land stays at lodges and sightseeing in Denali National Park - making their trip to Alaska even more comprehensive.

For climate and sunlight purposes, cruises to Alaska sail strictly during the summer months, from early May to mid-September. June, July and August can be classified as peak season when average daily high temperatures can reach 75 degrees Fahrenheit, so those looking for the best value should check sailing dates in May and September when temperatures hover around 50 degrees.

A variety of cruise ships sail to Alaska, including luxury vessels and midsize ships - most of which offer expanded kids programs for family vacationers. While the majority of ships sail from Vancouver, BC, Seattle is increasingly becoming a popular summer homeport for many lines. Both embarkation/disembarkation points allow ships to visit the most popular ports on an Alaska cruise, including Juneau, Ketchikan and Skagway.

Antarctica

An Antarctic cruise may not provide ideal conditions for sunbathing on deck, but there is nothing quite like it for adventurous souls who yearn to see and experience the beauty and spectacle of Earth's most remote and unspoiled place. A cruise to the great "White Continent" also provides unique opportunities for face-to-face encounters with the wildlife that dwell in this icy realm, including gentoo and chinstrap penguins; crabeater, Weddell and leopard seals; humpback and killer whales; and kelp gulls and nesting Antarctic terns.

The natural beauty the Antarctic region leaves visitors spellbound. Awe-inspiring vistas include snow-capped peaks, sheer cliffs, icebergs and ink-blue waters. The coldest and windiest of all seven continents, Antarctica has no native or permanent human residents - only scientists and specialists, who live there a few months at a time, and cruise passengers who enjoy the rare opportunity to visit.

Typically, cruise ships visit Antarctica between December and February, when the temperatures range from 20 - 50 degrees Fahrenheit. These months also fall into the category of high summer, when there is 20 plus hours of daylight. Voyages generally depart from Ushuaia (Argentina), Port Stanley (Falkland Islands) or to a lesser extent from Punta Arenas (Chile), Buenos Aires (Argentina) or Puerto Madryn (Argentina).

Most ships that sail to Antarctica are less than 23,000-grt and were built as icebreakers or have a hardened hull able to withstand the freezing, ice-filled waters. Antarctica treaty laws require that no more than 100 passengers participate in a landing at one time, which is possible via Zodiac landing craft - sturdy, inflatable boats specifically designed for exploration use - weather permitting.

Australia and New Zealand

Although Australia and New Zealand lie literally on the other side of the world from home, tourists from North America find that they feel wonderfully at home in these two nations. A shared language - English is also the dominant language "down under" - and a host of other similarities in national character and style allay the strangeness of the striking landscapes, unique wildlife and distinctive cultural traditions of these two nations.

A continent as well as a nation, Australia encompasses vast areas of wild country known as the outback, superb beaches and surfing grounds, a vast coral reef teeming with marine life, and an incredible array of wildlife that includes kangaroos, koala bears, wombats and the unique platypus. But there is another side of Australia embodied in Sydney, one of the world's great cities.

Southeast of Australia in the South Pacific, New Zealand comprises two main islands - known simply as South Island and North Island - and numerous small islets. Though tiny compared to its neighbor, New Zealand boasts a variety of natural features and recreational opportunities to rival any place in the world. The North Island features the bustling metropolis and world yacht racing capital of Auckland, exotic black sand beaches and lush green hills. The South Island's mountainous terrain and glaciers have earned it the title of "Switzerland of the South Pacific."

Cruises that call at ports in Australia and New Zealand include longer Pacific voyages and world-circling itineraries. Some lines, however, schedule cruise programs focusing on these two destinations, either together or separately. Because they are located in the Southern Hemisphere, summer arrives in December there, but their mild climates make these two destinations attractive cruise venues any time of the year. 

Bahamas & Caribbean

It's easy to find reasons why more people take cruises to the Bahamas and the Caribbean than anywhere else in the world. A warm climate; an astounding array of ports of call, each with its own distinctive character and appeal; thousands of beaches, including some of the world's best; great shopping at duty free prices; and incredibly clear seas teeming with marine life make this part of the world a perfect cruise vacation destination.

There's much more to this region stretching from south Florida to South America than sun, sand and surf. No other destination presents so many choices of cruise itineraries and lengths, with anything from a two-night getaway to an extended voyage sailing from ports from New York to Central America. In fact, it is so vast and diverse that it really constitutes three separate areas, traditionally defined as Eastern Caribbean/The Bahamas, Western Caribbean and Southern Caribbean.

A typical weeklong cruise allows vacationers to sample these varied cultures, history and peoples at four or five different ports. Each port call opens the door to a new slice of paradise, where you might discover traces of France or Britain or the Netherlands or Spain woven into the distinctive pace and style of the regions many individual nations.

Although a year-round cruise destination the strong appeal of the Caribbean and The Bahamas for family cruise vacations make school holiday periods among the busiest times of year. Those looking for the best values in a cruise to the Caribbean and The Bahamas should check sailing dates in January, late spring or September through early December.

Eastern Caribbean/The Bahamas

The most popular cruising grounds in the world lie from the Bahamas just off the South Florida coast and the islands defining the border between the Caribbean Sea and the Atlantic Ocean. Legendary playgrounds of royalty and celebrities; places rich in historic importance and cultural traditions; world-class shops, entertainment and recreational opportunities; and exotic natural wonderlands make Eastern Caribbean and Bahamas cruises appealing to vacationers of virtually every age and interest.

Ships ranging from yacht-like luxury vessels to the largest floating resorts sail to the Bahamas and Eastern Caribbean year-round from the popular Florida ports of Miami, Fort Lauderdale and Port Canaveral, as well as San Juan, Puerto Rico, and seasonally from eastern U.S. ports as far north as New York.

Bermuda

The sand really is pink, and the style is decidedly British in this Atlantic Ocean island gem a day a half by ship from the East Coast. Although some cruise ships call at Bermuda on the way to or from the Caribbean and Bahamas or Europe, most cruises to this island are single-destination journeys, giving vacationers several days to enjoy the many delights it offers while using their ship as a floating resort hotel.

Tourists are not allowed to drive automobiles in Bermuda, but readily available motor scooters and bicycles allow independent explorations of this small island. The shops are decidedly upscale with particular emphasis on fine products from around the world and especially Britain. Bermuda also has an abundance of restaurants featuring the island's distinctively spicy cuisine.

Summer is prime time for Bermuda cruises, and ships depart for the island from a number of East Coast ports, including Boston, New York, Philadelphia, Baltimore and Norfolk, as well as from Florida. Though a small island, Bermuda has two cruise ship ports - one at Hamilton, the island's capital, and the other at Kings Wharf.

Canada, New England and The US Coast

Whether it's a stop at historic Saint John's, Canada's oldest incorporated city; a visit to famed Martha's Vineyard in Massachusetts; a call at Baltimore's bustling harbor; or a day baking in the hospitality of beautiful Charleston, South Carolina - a rich variety of wonderful experiences await "close-to-home" vacationers on a cruise along the eastern coast of the U.S. and Canada.

Cruises ranging from two-night getaways to12-night voyages sail the coastal waters of North America and into Canada along the St. Lawrence Seaway. Choices in embarkation ports that include Montreal, New York, Baltimore, Boston, Philadelphia, Norfolk (Virginia), Charleston (South Carolina) and other cities have helped to make these itineraries a popular choice for drive-and-sail cruises and as part of a land and sea vacation.

The ships sailing east coast cruises rival the ports of call for diversity. Cruise vacationers can choose to take their Canada/New England/U.S. Coastal cruise on ships ranging from intimate vessels carrying fewer than 50 passengers to spectacular resorts at sea.

Typically the Canada/New England cruise season runs from May through October, with fall foliage highlighting the later sailings, and more southern coastal sailings run through the winter. Value hunters will find the best deals on early spring departures.

Central America & The Panama Canal

The warm region between Mexico and South America possesses remarkable culture, spectacular scenery - and one of the world's historic engineering marvels, the Panama Canal. Lush tropical rain forests and abundant colorful wildlife make Central America a prime cruise destination for people seeking places off the beaten path and close to nature.

Although a few of today's largest cruise ships can not pass through the locks of the Panama Canal, most major cruise lines offer sailings that include this unique passage along with visits to several Central American and Caribbean ports of call. A day-long passage through the 51-mile-long canal transits three locks and passes through some of the region's most beautiful scenery.

Some lines operate Central American/Panama Canal cruises throughout the year, but September through April is the most popular season for these itineraries. Many Panama Canal cruises last from 10 to 25 days or more, though some are as short as a week. Repositioning voyages between the Atlantic and Caribbean waters and the Pacific and Alaska also usually go through the Panama Canal and include Central America visits, as do many world cruise itineraries.

Europe (Western)

From the winding regions of the Mosel, Rhine and Danube, our increasingly popular European River Cruises explore the fascinating history, arts, and world famous wine growing regions of Europe.

Explore terraced hillsides dotted with medieval castles, vineyards, and religious sites along the way, a gentle ride down these tributaries unlocks the treasures of these towns, ancient hubs of merchant trade routes, and strategic fortresses which created boundaries of modern European cultures. Several of these villages and large commercial centers are well preserved and offer an exciting portal to discover quaint cities, local craftsmanship, artistic treasures and gourmet adventures.

Europe (Northern), Scandinavia & Baltic Russia

Northern Europe perennially tops lists of favorite destinations for North American travelers. Those who have been there look forward to returning, and those who have not dream of going.

There are plenty of good reasons for this popularity. The many great cities in this prosperous and sophisticated corner of the world include London, Paris, St. Petersburg and many others. Its landscapes include the rugged beauty of Norway and Finland, the bright flower fields of the Netherlands and the lush greens of Ireland. The architecture encompasses modern masterpieces as well as ancient churches and castles.

And of course, the art and music and literature of this region form a large part of the cultural fabric of the western world. These also are the heartlands of golf, tennis, auto racing, equestrian sports, soccer and many of the world's other favorite sporting pursuits and championships.

Summer is the high season for cruises in this part of the world; however, some lines offer year-round sailings from ports in Great Britain and Norway.

Europe (Southern) & The Mediterranean

Alexander the Great, Julius Caesar, Cleopatra, Saint Paul, Marco Polo and millions of others from the dawn of civilization to present-day cruise vacationers have explored the coastal cities and thousands of islands of Southern Europe and the Mediterranean Sea. These are, in fact, places linked mainly by the sea, and much of their history, commerce and traditions have their origins there.

Cruises in this part of the world fall into three broad categories:

Eastern Mediterranean / Aegean Sea which visit ports in Turkey, Greece and islands such as Rhodes, Santorini, Mykonos and Crete. Ships traveling this itinerary on seven-day cruises often departing from Piraeus (Athens), Greece, or Istanbul, Turkey, though some longer voyages sail from ports farther west.

Western Mediterranean / Southern Europe where cruises sail among the cities and villages of Southern Europe from the Adriatic to the Straits of Gibraltar, including Venice, Naples, Civitavecchia (Rome) and Genoa, Italy; Monte Carlo, Monaco; St.-Tropez, France; Barcelona, Spain; and a host of others, ranging from small villages to major cities.

Southern Mediterranean where cruises visit the more exotic ports of call along the coast of North Africa from Morocco to the Holy Lands, including Tunis, Tunisia; Tripoli, Libya; Alexandria, Egypt; and Haifa, Israel, among others.

Far East and the Orient

To most North Americans, the Far East and Orient define the essence of exotic destinations. Far from home in nearly every sense, these lands have dazzled and enthralled travelers with their fascinating traditions, stunning beauty, rich history and rich cultural heritage.

The diverse countries and cultures of this area of the world encompass a vast area and countless ports of call from Japan to the Indian subcontinent. Those who journey here can experience the wonders of some of the oldest known civilizations - and delight in the region's unique architecture, cuisine and art.

Apart from world cruises, whose itineraries generally sample key ports in the Orient and the Far East as they circle the globe, most cruises in this part of the world focus on specific areas, such as Japan and eastern China, the South China Sea and Southeast Asia, and the Indian Ocean and India. Typically these sailings visit several countries, each with its own distinctive culture, along with stops at enchanting and beautiful islands.

Although many of these are voyages of 10 days or more, seven-day cruises are also available. A journey to these faraway places easily merits an extended visit, and most lines offer extensive pre- and post-cruise land programs to add another dimension to the experience.

Hawaii, Polynesia, Tahiti & The South Pacific

Who hasn't dreamed of escaping to a tropical island paradise in the South Pacific? As it turns out, there are literally thousands of them, including some famous in legend, song and literature and the model for the fictional Bali Hai that still symbolizes this region of the world to many people.

Although these islands seem very far away, they're actually only a few hours away from the West Coast of North America by air, and with a number of cruise options available - including three-, four- and seven-night and longer sailings, it's actually possible to fit paradise into a week's vacation. Seven-day cruises among the Hawaiian Islands generally sail from Honolulu, but several lines offer longer itineraries calling in Hawaii from Ensenada, Mexico, and Vancouver, B.C., before and after the summer Alaska cruise season.

A number of Polynesian island cruises depart from Papeete, Tahiti, though some also operate from Raiatea and a few ships call here and in Hawaii on trans-Pacific and world cruise itineraries.

Mexico

Stunning white-sand beaches, lively art, exciting nightlife, exuberant energy, and wondrous architecture and archaeological structures such as the many Mayan ruins all contribute to Mexico's popularity with cruise vacationers. Open-air markets with hand-made crafts, jewelry and straw items abound in Mexico, as do excellent restaurants and festive bars.

A day visit to a Mexican port can be an opportunity to sunbathe and sip margaritas on one of Mexico's 440 beaches, explore some of the best scuba diving and snorkeling spots in the Pacific Ocean or Caribbean Sea, climb the steps of Chichen Itza; or go shopping for outstanding values on silver, gemstones and souvenir items.

South America

This vibrant continent combines Latin American flare with the all the warmth of the Caribbean. It's colorful, exotic, sexy, historic and modern all at the same time. It's mysterious. It's amazing. It's an adventure.

From the sultry and seductive city of Rio de Janeiro, Brazil to the wondrous secrets of Machu Picchu in Peru - South America offers intriguing lands of culture, natural beauty, and nostalgia. Those who visit this brave continent will have a chance to discover and explore the cascading Iguazu Falls in the jungles of Argentina, the marvelous old-world architecture of Montevideo, Uruguay, the pristine lakes and snow-capped volcanoes of Puerto Montt, Chile and the Brazilian beaches of Rio.

The climate in South America mirrors North America's seasons, putting the continents peak summer months in the middle of northern winters. Although cruises to South America are offered from October through April, peak season is reached during the months of December, January, and February.

Typically the cruises sail from Rio de Janeiro, Valparaiso, and Buenos Aires, but some do depart from San Diego, New York and Fort Lauderdale, as well. In addition to the traditional stops that are actually on South American land, ships sail around the continent, including the tip of Cape Horn, often calling in the Falkland Islands and Antarctica as well as stops in Mexico and Costa Rica. This exciting journey can last anywhere from 13 to 40 days, and usually attracts passengers with an appetite for adventure and education. Most cruise lines also offer pre- and post-cruise packages and overnight stays in some of the South American port cities.

Transatlantic

For those who value traveling in style and comfort, for romantic souls who want to experience the style and grace of the "good old days" (but with all the modern conveniences) and for who simply want to escape from the ordinary routine, nothing beats a transatlantic cruise. As short as six days or as long as two weeks or more, these crossings between Europe and America feature the endless pleasures of leisurely days at sea the ship lovers and experienced cruisers treasure, rather than the usual series of port calls.

Transatlantic cruises once were the heart of daily commerce across the Atlantic, but today they are seasonal treats. One cruise line operates a schedule of crossings through the summer months, but most other transatlantic sailings occur with the migrations of cruise fleets from the Caribbean to Europe and the Mediterranean in the spring and the return voyages in the fall.

Eastbound crossings frequently depart from New York, Boston, Miami, Ft. Lauderdale and a few Caribbean ports. Westbound ships often sail from Southampton, England; Barcelona, Spain; and other major European port cities. In each case, ships may take a longer, slower southern route past the Canary Islands, or the shorter and quicker northern course.

While a few of these voyages include visits to ports along the way - such as the Canary Islands on the southern crossings or Iceland on the northern path - the unique character of the transatlantic cruise makes these simply short diversions from the main event - the transit across the vast expanse of the Atlantic.