Some parts of the world are blessed with incredible striking scenery surrounded by waterways, be it massive oceans, a series of lakes, or long winding rivers. What better way to explore these destinations than by cruising through the area and taking in the breathtaking scenery up close. We’ve polled our Travel Experts to find out what they recommend as the most scenic cruise itineraries. Here’s our top five:
1. Norwegian Fjords
Imagine thousands of kilometres of narrow waterways flowing from the ocean into rivers winding through incredible cliffs and mountains. If you’ve heard of or seen photos of fjords, it’s very likely you viewed one of the many famous fjords of Norway. Travelling Norway by land won’t afford you the same opportunities for taking in the amazing scenery quite like a cruise will! Highlights include the breathtaking Preikestolen (or Pulpit Rock), a massive 604 metre cliff towering above the Lysefjorden fjord.
You can experience the rugged beauty of the Norwegian Fjords via a few cruise lines. Here’s a few that come recommended by our experts:
Celebrity Cruises – hop on an 8-night cruise departing from Southampton, England that makes five stops along the coast of Norway. Highlights include quaint fishing wharfs, remote villages, and of course, the imposing cliffs and mountains of the fjords you’ll explore!
Royal Caribbean International – RCI offers a 7-night Norwegian Fjord cruise departing from Copenhagen, Denmark. A visit to Pulpit Rock for a once-in-a-lifetime experience stands out on an itinerary packed with adorable villages and unbelievable landscapes.
Alaska has some serious coastline. In fact, it’s not only the state with the most – it has more coastline than the rest of the United States combined! Summer is a popular time to visit Alaska and take in the magnificent scenery, but if you’re hoping to see the Aurora Borealis (aka the Northern Lights), late fall through early spring are when these stunning displays of light shine brightest. Many cruise lines offer one- or two-week cruises through Alaska, along the coast and down the inlets cut through the Coast Mountain range. Highlights include viewing the glaciers of Glacier Bay, watching wildlife, and stops in Skagway, a town in the centre of the Klondike gold rush! Here are a few options we recommend for cruising your way to Alaska.
Holland America Line – you can do more than just cruise with Holland America in Alaska! Apart from 7- or 14-day Alaska cruises, their Land and Sea Journeys open up new possibilities to explore the state and the neighbouring Yukon Territory. Choose one of these longer options and you’ll even venture to Denali, the highest mountain in North America!
Carnival – departing from Vancouver or Seattle, Carnival offers an 8-day cruise just long enough to see all the highlights of the vast state. Onboard this cruise you’ll explore the Tracy Arm Fjord, sailing right through two massive glaciers. An excursion in Juneau will take you straight to the Mendenhall Glacier where you can also partake in whale watching!
Craving the scenery but can’t stand the cold? Why not say aloha to incredible mountains and volcanoes on a cruise through Hawaii? With so many unique islands to explore, cruising is our preferred way to see everything throughout this sparse state. Most cruise lines offer Hawaiian cruises that explore multiple islands, many of which depart from our own backyard, Vancouver! With so many lines offering different itineraries, you’ll be sure to find one that fits your needs. Here’s two that stand out:
Norwegian Cruise Line – if you’ve got a week to spare but can’t swing anything longer, Norwegian is the only line that offers a 7-day cruise to four islands. Excursions are plentiful and adapt to suit your travel needs, including adventurous offerings, authentic luaus, tours and historic sites, and optimal sightseeing opportunities.
Princess Cruises – You won’t have to wait until you arrive in Hawaii to immerse yourself in Hawaiian culture onboard Princess Cruises! The Aloha Spirit program will have you learning to play the ukulele, dancing the hula, making your own flower leis and indulging in delectable Hawaiian cuisine before even docking on any islands! Cruises range from 15-day itineraries to a 28-day cruise around Hawaii and surrounding areas including Tahiti and Samoa.
One of the many benefits of cruises is being able to cover a lot of area in a short amount of time, especially when it comes to hopping around different countries. With its ocean, sea, and river access, Europe is a great candidate for cruises as it helps you see as much as you can once you’ve made the trek across the Atlantic. One scenic itinerary that has offers so much to see and incredible scenery is a Baltic cruise. Most of these itineraries allow you to see several Scandinavian countries all in one go! Here’s a few Baltic options we’d recommend:
Norwegian Cruise Line – Norwegian’s Baltic cruise is a 9-day stint departing from Copenhagen with stops in Germany, Estonia, Russia, Finland, and Sweden. Six countries in 9 days certainly doesn’t sound bad to us! Shore excursions are a must and are packed with history, including highlights of Berlin, and tours of St. Petersburg.
Royal Caribbean International – Forget the Caribbean, RCI knows how to do the Baltics! Also starting in Copenhagen, this cruise will take you to Latvia, Estonia, Russia, Finland, Sweden, and Poland. The cities of Riga in Latvia and Gdansk in Poland are charming old seaports full of history and charm.
Mediterranean cruises are another great way to see lots of great destinations in one go! When it comes to striking scenery, there’s nothing quite like the picturesque coastal towns along the Mediterranean, each country with their own look and feel. There’s tons of options when it comes to the Mediterranean, including smaller cruise lines, but most include stops in Italy, France, and Spain. Highlights include big cities with tons of culture and history like Rome, Barcelona, and Athens, alongside those cute and colourful coastal towns. Here’s a few Med cruises we love.
Princess Cruises – Offering cruises ranging from 5- to 28-day, these itineraries mostly focus on Italy, Spain, and Greece, but it’s easy to tack on a day or two in another country nearby after your cruise has ended! We like the 12-day Western Mediterranean Connoisseur, sailing to Croatia, Italy, France, and Montenegro.
Celebrity Cruises – Explore the Mediterranean and more with cruises offering stops in your common favourites Italy, Spain, Greece, etc, plus history-rich stops like Israel. Celebrity offers a few great options that focus on the Greek Isles, stopping in Mykonos, Santorini, and the capital Athens.