Best Summer Cruises
Summer’s here , and that means it’s time to start planning a vacation getaway in earnest. There are so many options to choose from. Cruising is a great one, because you only have to unpack once, and you take your hotel and restaurants with you as you travel! Here are some top picks for great summer cruises:
You can only cruise to Alaska during the spring and summer months; the season starts in May and ends in September. If you’re a fan of awe-inspiring glaciers, wildlife (think whales and eagles), fascinating history and adventurous activities like ziplining and hiking, head north this summer. Ketchikan is dubbed the “Rain Capital of Alaska,” and the forecast can be chilly and wet, but many cruise travelers are pleasantly surprised to encounter warm weather and sunny days on Alaska cruises. (And don’t forget about cruisetours. Alaska’s interior can be exceptionally mild and dry.)
If you want to see Europe without the record-breaking high temperatures, a Baltic cruise can be the perfect summer sailing. You’ll visit the major cities of Scandinavia and Russia — highlights typically include an overnight or two in St. Petersburg — with a few days in between for relaxing onboard. These cruises aren’t for travelers who just want to relax, however. You’ll be on the go every day, so pack your best walking shoes, and prepare to explore.
If golf, beaches, shopping or naval history is your thing, choose a Bermuda cruise when the weather is warm. Most ships will spend one or two nights docked in port, giving you plenty of time to experience the island and enjoy the nightlife. Bermuda is a good choice for travelers who want to mix sightseeing and active pursuits with sunbathing. Just be warned that hurricanes do occasionally cross the island’s path.
4. Southern Caribbean
The quintessential Caribbean cruise is always a great summer choice, but if you want to reduce your risk of running into a hurricane, head south. The Southern Caribbean islands experience storms less frequently than the Western or Eastern Caribbean islands, and they still provide island favorites like white-sand beaches, fantastic snorkeling and diving, and delicious seafood and other regional specialties. Fewer ships head that way, so the crowds aren’t quite as bad, either. Just note that these tropical islands can be hot in the summertime; it’s not the choice for those looking for a mild-weather getaway.
Want some adventure this summer and don’t mind the cold? Grab a parka and your camera, and sign up for a cruise north of the Arctic Circle. You’ll be rewarded with endless sunlight, views of wildlife (polar bears, reindeer and more) and unique landscapes. You’ll only find sailings June through September, and if you want to go as far north as you can, stick with July and August when the ice retreats. Mainstream cruise lines do bring their creature comforts to the icy North, but opt for a more bare-bones expedition vessel if you want to push farther with a crew of naturalists.
6. Canada and New England
While you may associate cruising to Canada and New England with fall and leaf peeping, Duvall says this region is a great summer option. “Over the last few years, cruise lines have really expanded the summer cruise options. There are a lot of activities to experience and better weather in the summer than in the fall,” he says, citing higher chances of rain in the autumn. Popular ports include Bar Harbor in Maine, Boston, Halifax in Nova Scotia, Montreal and Quebec City. What’s more, the region offers opportunities for unique activities such as culinary excursions and city tours.
7. The Mediterranean
With an array of cultural sights, incredible cuisine and ample excursions, the Mediterranean is a popular summer cruise destination. “In the Mediterranean, it’s going to be warmer, and you’re going to get the best weather,” compared to other times of the year, says Simon Duvall, community manager for Cruiseline.com and editorial director of #CruiseChat on Twitter. Mediterranean itineraries include stops in Barcelona, the south of France and Santorini, among other locales. Eisenberg also recommends the Mediterranean because you can experience many of Europe’s top destinations in a short period.