In December 2017, Cruise Lines International Association released its state of the cruise industry outlook for 2018 and predicted that over 27 million passengers would set sail this year. In 2017, nearly 26 million took a cruise, exceeding the previous year’s numbers by more than a million. To meet the increasing demand, an increasing number of cruises and cruise lines continue to make their debut. While that gives the cruise traveler lots of great options, it can also make it harder to choose which to book. These destinations are some of the best to consider when putting together your cruise plans.
If you just purchased one of the Charleston homes for sale, you’re in luck, as there are sailings right from this picturesque southern city, which include the Bahamas. Located just off the tip of southeastern Florida and stretching southeast across the Atlantic, this archipelago is made up of some 2,000 islands, if you include the cays. Carnival Ecstasy offers a 5-night cruise departing from Charleston with a stop at Princess Cays on the southern tip of Eleuthera in the Out Islands, famous for its Glass Window Bridge, a 30-foot-wide strip of rock which links the north and south points of the island, with the Atlantic on one side, and the emerald waters of the Caribbean on the other. There are white sandy beaches as well as outstanding snorkeling among vibrant coral and exotic fish.
Nassau, the capital city, is on the agenda too, known for its 24/7 party atmosphere, exciting festivals, endless shopping, Vegas-style casinos and powdery soft beaches.
Part of the Eastern Caribbean, Antigua has long been overlooked, but following the 2017 hurricanes, multiple cruises lines began rerouting their ships here, allowing more and more passengers to discover its delights. Many luxury and mainstream cruise lines offer sailings here, including Celebrity and Royal Caribbean. While there may be an increasing number of tourists, it hasn’t spoiled the splendor of the island, with its crystal-clear blue seas ideal for snorkeling and diving.
The 14-night Mediterranean cruise offered by Viking Sea is a true bucket-list cruising experience that will allow you to take in numerous stops throughout this region at a value, all-inclusive price tag. While you won’t find much in the way of glitzy casinos, shows or water parks, passengers, you will get lots of time to spend in each port. Stops include Barcelona, Spain; Toulon, France; Monaco; Corsica; Florence and Rome, Italy; Malta; Tunis, Tunisia; Sardinia; Algiers, Algeria; and Valencia, Spain. Local guides are provided to ensure you make the most out of each stop.
The Amazon River
There are multiple cruise options for exploring the wild and untamed Amazon River, which traverses through eight countries, providing the opportunity to watch an exciting array of wildlife from pink Amazon River dolphins and colorful macaws to squirrel monkeys and sloths. If you’re looking for a more intimate, luxury cruise through the Amazon, the Delfin II, which holds up to only 28 passengers, is ideal. Plan to go in the spring, a time when the lush rainforest can be more easily accessed, providing a better glimpse of all the wildlife. You’ll also have opportunities for side excursions like hikes, fishing and kayaking.
Arguably the most popular cruise destination for nature and animal lovers who want to explore an unspoiled wilderness region, Alaska offers the chance to sail through some of the world’s most jaw-dropping, wildlife-filled scenery. Holland America is one of the top cruise lines for a journey here, typically starting in Seattle, Washington or Vancouver, British Columbia, with stops in Ketchikan, Juneau, Skagway, Glacier Bay and Seward. View glaciers so close you can hear the ice crack, and keep an eye out for the many bald eagles, orca and humpback whales, sea lions, sea otters, puffins, bears and other creatures along the way.