When most people think of cruises, the places that come to mind are the Caribbean and the Mediterranean (both beautiful, seaworthy destinations), but I have my eye on four other awesome, perhaps less conventional, cruise routes. Here’s what I’ve been checking out.
1. A BALTIC/SCANDINAVIAN CRUISE
My pick: Royal Carribbean’s 11-Night Baltic Cruise
I’ve been itching to go on a Scandinavian/Baltic Cruise, and this itinerary has me sold. It starts and ends in Copenhagen, Denmark and visits the perfect blend of ports in the region, stopping in Stockholm (Sweden), Helsinki (Finland), St. Petersburg (Russia), Tallinn (Estonia), Riga (Latvia), Klaipeda (Lithuania), and Gdansk (Poland). This particular itinerary only spends two days at sea, which isn’t bad for an 11-night trip. I prefer active days in port to days spent on the ship, but one or two days at sea can be nice for catching up on some much-needed relaxation (traveling can be tiring!). Another great thing about this cruise is that it spends two days in St. Petersburg instead of just one, and St. Petersburg is definitely a place that requires more time. Finally, extra points to this cruise for stopping in all three of the Baltic states — Latvia, Lithuania, and Estonia. Not many Baltic cruise itineraries I’ve seen visit all three!
2. A NORWEGIAN FJORDS CRUISE
My pick: Norwegian Cruise Line’s 12-Day Norway & North Cape Cruise
No surprise really, but Norwegian Cruise Line offers quite a variety of Norwegian cruise itineraries and ports of call. The 12-Day Norway & North Cape Cruise caught my attention because it not only visits the gorgeous Norwegian fjords region that I’ve been eager to see, but it extends the itinerary further and also includes some stops in northern Norway, north of the Arctic Circle. A couple of the northern ports of call are the Lofoten Islands, known for their spectacular rugged mountain peaks, and Tromso, the world’s third largest city above the Arctic Circle. Back in the southern fjords region, this cruise makes stops in the popular ports of Alesund, Bergen, and Geiranger, all of which are must-sees for me.
Bonus: I’ve noticed some cruise lines offer back-to-back Baltic and Norwegian Fjords cruises, which allows you to combine both cruises into one longer journey if you wish!
3. A CAPE HORN/SOUTH AMERICAN CRUISE
My pick: Norwegian Cruise Line’s 15-Day South America Cruise
How cool would it be to sail around the southern tip of South America? The Chilean fjords, the glaciers, and the wildlife of this region are supposed to be spectacular! This particular itinerary from Norwegian Cruise Line seems to really maximize what a Cape Horn cruise can offer. It starts in Buenos Aires, Argentina and ends in Valparaiso, Chile. Days at sea are minimized and all of the popular ports are included. This cruise makes stops in Montevideo (Uruguay), Punta del Este (Uruguay), Puerto Madryn (Argentina), Stanley (Falkland Islands), Ushuaia (Argentina), Punta Arenas (Chile), Puerto Chacabuco (Chile), and Puerto Montt (Chile). Most other Cape Horn cruises hit some, but not all of these ports, in particular the Falkland Islands and Puerto Madryn (which are both great places to spot penguin colonies!). This cruise also makes two stops in Uruguay, while most other comparable itineraries seem to visit only one port or the other. Of course, like all Cape Horn cruises, this cruise also includes a few days of scenic cruising around Cape Horn and the Chilean Fjords. To round out the trip, I would personally arrive a few days before the cruise and stick around a few days after to independently explore Buenos Aires and Valparaiso. Then this trip seems nearly perfect to me!
4. A JAPAN CRUISE
My pick: Celebrity Cruise’s 12-Night Japan, Korea, & China Cruise
Beginning in Tokyo and ending in Shanghai, this cruise from Celebrity features stops at several Japanese ports (Mt. Fuji, Kobe, Hiroshima, Kagoshima, and Nagasaki), as well as two port stops in South Korea (Busan and Jeju Island) with only two full days spent at sea. What I like about this cruise itinerary is that it offers two nights in both Tokyo and Kobe, allowing you to spend more time in those regions. Kobe is 45 minutes from Osaka and 1½ hours from Kyoto, so a stop in Kobe could offer a chance to visit those cities. I also like that this cruise extends beyond Japan and includes a taste of South Korea. Some time for beach relaxation can be found at Jeju Island, a nice balance to some of the busier city stops. With the itinerary ending in Shanghai, I’d stick around to explore China afterwards.
Have you been on a cruise to any of these places? What did you think? Are there any other less traditional cruise destinations you really enjoyed?
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