Rio de Janeiro, Brazil - (Top Cruise Destinations)

Best 10 Bucket-list Top Cruise Destinations for the Year

No matter how long you have been sailing the seas, there are always more cruise destinations and adventures to discover, explore and enjoy. You can’t just have enough! Here are my best 10 top cruise destinations for the year for your bucket list.

A little online research will show you that there are numerous places to visit on the planet on a cruise. To ease your search endeavour, this post reveals 10 of the top cruise destinations in the world – and for the year!

You can enjoy the sunshine of the Mediterranean, immerse yourself into the culture of the South Pacific, wind down on the tranquil islands of the Caribbean, experience barren Antarctica, sail through the Fjords of Norway, explore the wildlife sanctuary of the Galapagos and snorkel in the Great Barrier Reef in Australia.

There are new introductions, trimmed-down themes and packages in the cruise industry. This is so that cruise lovers can have optimized on-board and on-shore experiences to their greatest satisfaction.

If you have been at sea before or you’re a veteran cruiser, as usual, it’s time to do it again! There are more places to explore and even incredible experiences to relish. And, if you are relatively new to cruising, this post will guide you through the best cruise destinations for your bucket list cruising adventures.

Without further ado, here are the best 10 bucket-list top cruise destinations for the year.

Beach and boats in Acapulco, Mexico - (Top Cruise Destinations)
Beach and boats in Acapulco, Mexico

1. The Caribbean

The Caribbean is a cruise destination of great weather, beautiful tropical islands, countless palm-fringed beaches, delicious cuisines, colourful colonial towns and rich cultural traditions. This is where you go to take in the sun, sand and sea!

With relatively stable sunny weather all year round, cruises to the Caribbean offer a perfect escape for your vacation.

You can swim with the Stingrays in Stingray City, Grand Cayman, visit Buck Island, sail in St. Thomas, explore the lush landscape of Dunns River Falls in Jamaica, snorkel with turtles in Tobago, see the Morne Trois Pitons National Park, experience the Emerald Pool in Dominica, and Escambron Marine Park and El Yunque in Puerto Rico.

Typically, Caribbean cruises are classified into Western and Eastern Caribbean. Cruises to the Eastern Caribbean take you to Mexico and Central American destinations like Panama, Honduras, Belize and Costa Rica, while Western Caribbean cruises sail to places such as the Bahamas, St. Kitts and Nevis, the Virgin Islands, Curacao, Cayman Island and Barbados.

Recommended Read: The 10 Best Travel Destinations in the Caribbean

Carnival Glory and Carnival Sunshine Cruise Ships Docks in Bahamas - the Caribbean Islands (Top Cruise Destinations)
Carnival Glory and Carnival Sunshine Cruise Ships Docks in the Bahamas

2. Alaska

Known as “the Last Frontier”, Alaska is one of the best cruise destinations in the world where you can explore wild natural wonders. It is famous for its diverse wildlife, rugged terrain, and breathtaking glaciers.

Explore cities such as Juneau and Skagway, where you can go dog sledging and watch whales. In Ketchikan, you can bike through the rainforest, watch bears fishing for salmon, and admire ancient totem poles [Source].

Most cruises to Alaska usually sail through the Inside Passage which is dotted with forested islands and rich marine life including pods of black-and-white orca, sea otters, dolphins and humpback whales.

Two of the major highlights of the Alaska cruise itinerary are the Glacier Bay National Park with its dreamy landscape of ice and snow, and the College Fjord. The College Fjord features spectacular fin-shaped mountains as well as the world’s largest collection of tidewater glaciers.

You can also hike the Denali National Park, sail through Chena River in Fairbank, a city built on both sides of the river, on a sternwheeler, and board the Wilderness Express, a luxury train cruise with spectacular views of the surrounding landscape.

Icebergs and the Marjorie Glaciers in Glacier Bay, Alaska - (Top Cruise Destinations)
Icebergs and the Marjorie Glaciers in Glacier Bay, Alaska

3. Norway

The beautiful and scenic fjords of Norway is one of the loveliest sights in Northern Europe especially in summer when they are lush and green. This is one of the most spectacular cruise destinations in the world.

Explore on a cruise the amazing landscape of the fjord dotted by plunging cliffs, gushing waterfalls, meadows with colourful flowers, and several picturesque farming and fishing villages.

Cruising the coast of Norway in summer brings long bright days and amazingly green scenery and in winter, experiencing the Northern Lights is the major highlight of cruises.

A typical Norway Cruise will include seeing the Geiranger Fjord and its Seven Sisters Falls. With a stop in Stavanger, you can stroll through Europe’s best-preserved wooden house settlement and take a shore excursion to Pulpit Rock. In Bergen, visit the colourful Hanseatic wharf – Bryggen along with its 13th-century waterfront fish market.

You can board the Flam Railway, and kayak the glassy-tranquil water nearing rocky shores as you watch out for basking seals and mountain goats.

Alesund with its intricate art deco architecture is also a popular town to experience during a Norway cruise.

Geiranger Fjords, Norway - (Top Cruise Destinations)
Geiranger Fjords, Norway

4. Greece

With over 6,000 islands gracefully spread in the Aegean and Ionian seas, Greece is an adorable destination best explored on a cruise.

Explore the infinite beauty of Greece by first absorbing the glamour of Athens, the capital before heading to the port of Piraeus and set sail for the Greek islands.

Among the thousands of Greek islands, the top cruise destinations are Santorini, Mykonos, Crete, Rhodes, Corfu, Hydra, Paros and Naxos as well as lesser-explored destinations such as Thessaloniki and Volos.

Santorini is world-famous for its white houses (most with blue dome-shaped roofs) clinging to the cliffsides of the volcanic caldera. Santorini is the luxury centre of the Greek islands.

Mykonos is one of the most upbeat Greek islands known for its nightlife, party scenes, cocktail bars and sunny beaches. Crete is the largest island in Greece and it’s filled with natural wonders like fertile plains, jagged mountains, ancient ruins, crystal-clear sea waters and colourful wildflowers.

Hydra is one of the most unique destinations in Greece. The island is set in an arty bohemian atmosphere. It is car-free and Donkeys are the primary means of commuting. Hydra has ruggedly picturesque scenes with serene bays, vibrant bars and restaurants in the port.

Suggested Read: The Top 10 Best Luxury Cruise Lines in the World

Summer on Hydra Island, Greece - (Top Cruise Destinations)
Summer on Hydra Island, Greece

5. The South Pacific Islands

From Sydney in Australia, Noumea the capital of New Caledonia, Suva in Fiji, to Moorea in French Polynesia, and the Cook Islands, the South Pacific is home to some of the most remote, beautiful and unspoiled islands in the world.

In the South Pacific, you’ve got to experience a blend of amazing Polynesian cultures, relax on some of the most tranquil beaches in the world, go on shore excursions and explore towns and villages, shop for souvenirs in the local markets and indulge in some engaging fun activities, especially in ports.

Popular ports of call for cruises to the South Pacific include Sydney (Australia), Lautoka (Fiji), Isle of Pines (New Caledonia), Papeete (Tahiti, French Polynesia), Rarotonga (Cook Island), Champagne Bay (Vanuatu), Auckland (New Zealand), Honiara (Solomon Island), Hawaii and Fanning Island (Kiribati).

Swimming, diving and snorkelling are some of the best things you can do on your South Pacific cruise. The marine life is amazing and coral reefs are just spectacular. If you are looking for the best snorkelling spots on a South Pacific cruise, you should try out the Great Barrier Reefs in Australia, Navini Island in Fiji, Cooks Bay in Moorea, Pele Island in Vanuatu, and Titikaveka Beach in the Cook Islands.

Must Read: The 6 Most Popular Cruise Destinations in the World

Shoreline in Tahiti, French Polynesia - (Top Cruise Destinations)
Shoreline in Tahiti, French Polynesia

6. Western Europe & Mediterranean

On a Western Europe cruise, you will be spoilt with the variety of destinations and ports of call where you will be greeted with eye-catching ancient and modern architecture.

Cruise the coast of Western Europe, all the way to the Mediterranean and marvel at the cities, historic sites, glamourous resorts, castles, idyllic islands and colourful towns that dotted the coast.

Many Western Europe cruise itineraries call at destinations including the British Isle, Netherlands, Germany, France, Portugal, and Spain. Some other cruises are extended to Sweden, Denmark, Iceland and the Baltic Region.

You can also cruise from the coast of Spain to the French and Italian Riviera in the Western Mediterranean exploring the best of attractions including bustling cities like Malaga (Spain), Valencia (Spain), Barcelona (Spain), Marseille (France), Monte Carlo (Monaco), and Genoa, Portofino and Cinque Terre in Italy.

European fashion will catch your eyes, the wines will glee your heart and the incredibly delicious regional foods for example the Mediterranean cuisine where olive oil, wheat, grains, fruits and vegetables are always abundant will gladden your soul.

From out-of-continent islands such as Azores and Madeira (Portugal) and Canary Islands (Spain) to Mediterranean Islands like the Balearic (Spain), Corsica (France), Sardinia and Sicily (Italy), and Malta to exotic destinations in the Adriatic including Dubrovnik, Split and Hvar in Croatia as well as destinations in Montenegro, Bosnia and Herzegovina, and Albania, Europe will delight you again and again.

Read Also: The Top 10 Best Luxury Destinations in Europe

Cruise Port and Marina in Barcelona, Catalonia, Spain - (Top Cruise Destinations)
Cruise Port and Marina in Barcelona, Catalonia, Spain

7. South America

South America is a truly extraordinary cruise destination. The land of Samba and Tango, high spirits and lively culture, wild natural beauty, white sandy beaches and crystal-clear waters.

Explore the colours, sights, sounds and magic of South America and accrue lifetime experiences in one of the most culturally rich and naturally vibrant destinations in the world.

Cruising South America means experiencing top attractions like the Iguazu Falls between Argentina and Brazil, the Historic Sanctuary of Machu Picchu in Peru, the Torres del Paine National Park in Chile’s Patagonia region, Sugarloaf Mountain in Rio de Janeiro, Isla del Sol and Uyuni Salt Flat (world’s largest salt flat) in Bolivia, Perito Moreno Glacier in Argentina, and the Huayana Picchu in Peru’s Quechua.

Bulnes Fort and the Atacama Desert in Chile, Tijuca National Park (Brazil), Santa Teresa (a hilltop district in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil), Parque do Ibirapuera in Sao Paulo (Brazil) and Sacred Valley in Cuzco, Peru are among the top attractions to witness and experience on a South American Cruise.

You should also experience the world-famous Copacabana Beach in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, sample exotic flavours of delicacies unique to the region like Asado, Ceviche and Empanadas, explore the rich local heritage and dance to some tango rhythms.

Most cruises call at popular ports including Manta (Ecuador), Lima (Peru), Cape Horn (Chile), Arica (Chile), Montevideo (Uruguay), Punta Del Este (Uruguay), Rio de Janeiro (Brazil), Buenos Aires (Argentina), Ushuaia (Argentina), and Sao Paulo (Brazil)

External Link: South America Travel Guide – Affordable Tours

Rio de Janeiro, Brazil - (Top Cruise Destinations)
Rio de Janeiro, Brazil

8. Antarctica

The best way to experience one of the most thrilling destinations on Earth is to cruise to Antarctica, the extreme continent at the southern tip of the planet.

From camping in the snow, wildlife-watching, kayaking and standup paddle boarding, scuba diving, snorkelling, trekking on ice in South Islands, taking a Polar Plunge, helicopter tours, crossing the Antarctic Circle, mountaineering to visiting the South Pole, Antarctica is an alluring destination worth exploring at least once in a lifetime [Source].

Antarctica is home to an amazing colony of endemic wildlife like the variety of Antarctic Penguins (e.g. Emperor, King, Chinstrap, Adelie, Gentoo penguins and others), Seals, Antarctic krill, Snowy albatross, Snow petrel, whales, dolphins and Antarctic Orca.

It is common to stop at one or more of Antarctic ports including the Elephant Island, Paradise Bay, Schollaert Channel and the Gerlache Strait on a cruise to Antarctica.

Most cruises to Antarctica leave in January or February when the Southern Hemisphere will be in Summer.

Read Also: The Top 5 Best Expedition Destinations Around the World

An Expedition Group in a Boat in Antarctica - (Top Cruise Destinations)
An Expedition Group in a Boat in Antarctica

9. Southeast Asia

Natural splendour, cultural diversity, bustling cities, exotic islands, delicious cuisines, temples, spectacular architecture and world-class shopping are a few of the highlights of the Southeast Asia cruise.

Experience Southeast Asia from renowned upbeat cruise ports like Bangkok (Thailand), Singapore, Ho Chi Minh City (Vietnam), Bali (Indonesia), Kuala Lumpur (Malaysia), Hanoi (Vietnam), Yangoon (Myanmar) and Sihanoukville (Cambodia).

From exploring the temple complex of Angkor Wat in Siem Reap (Cambodia), touring the lively streets of Bangkok (Thailand), experiencing the famous Bali island in Indonesia taking in the beaches, culture and arts of this beautiful island, to diving in the mystical limestone islands of Halong Bay in Vietnam, Southeast Asia is a dynamic cruise destination that will leave you with pleasant memories.

Savour delicious Southeast Asia delicacies like Laksa in Singapore, Malaysia and Indonesia, Pho and Bun Cha in Vietnam, Nasi Goreng in Indonesia, Tom Yum and Pad Thai in Thailand, Larb and Sticky Rice in Laos, and Amok in Cambodia. These yummy delicacies will make you ask for more!

Crystal Symphony Cruise Ship in Indonesia - (Top Cruise Destinations)
Crystal Symphony Cruise Ship in Indonesia

10. Africa – experience Zanzibar Island in Tanzania and South Africa’s Cape Town

Exploring the coastal bliss of Africa on a cruise is perhaps an intriguing way to absorb and appreciate the beauty and natural wonders of the continent.

From Morocco, Algeria, Tunisia and Egypt in North Africa to Eastern African destinations in Kenya, Tanzania and Seychelles, South Africa, Madagascar and Angola in Southern Africa and West Africa’s Gold Coast, Senegal, Sao Tome and Principe and Cape Verde, Africa will startle and dumbfound you.

A cruise destination of culture, nature, safari and vibrant wildlife!

Explore and revel on Zanzibar Island (Tanzania) one of the foremost destinations in Africa. Experience some of Cape Town’s (South Africa) incredible wines and foods, relax on the white-sand beaches of Mombasa (Kenya), swim, snorkel and surf in Nosy Be (Madagascar), and tour the tropical island city of Victoria Mahe (Seychelles).

In most cases, cruises to North African destinations are organized with Mediterranean cruises where you can see the ancient city of Alexandria, Luxor city and the Great Pyramid of Giza in Egypt or even cruise the Nile River, or the sun-kissed city of Casablanca in Morocco’s Atlantic coast.

Recommended Read: The 10 Best Travel Destinations in Africa

Cape Town, South Africa - (Top Cruise Destinations)
Cape Town, South Africa


The value of exhilarating experiences from cruising is matchless. That’s why many cruise lovers add to their annual bucket list amazing destinations to be explored or re-experienced via the waters.

Thousands of cruisers take to the seas every year where they relax, refresh, rejuvenate and then repeat!

In this post, I presented the best 10 bucket list top cruise destinations for the year.

From the beautiful tropical islands of the Caribbean, the towering fjords of Norway and their fishing villages, the alluring culture of the South Pacific, the colourful coastal towns of Europe and the Mediterranean, to the daredevil characters of Antarctica, cruising offers a rare way to engage, enjoy and experience the world.

Cruise the world in style on sailing resorts as you learn about rich cultures, see spectacular landmarks and breathtaking landscapes, brave impossible territories, meet amazing locals, watch endemic wildlife and gasp at natural wonders.

I encourage you to cruise more, experience the seas and oceans, and explore far and wide. This post presents 10 cruise destinations to fulfil your cruising dreams and aspirations for the year.

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