Countless waterways connect the world’s sandy shorelines and frozen frontiers, making for endless possibilities to journey the globe by cruise ship. Kick back on the golden sands of Hawaii, attend a concert dedicated to the works of Strauss and Mozart in Austria, or try your hand at Alaska’s national sport of dog mushing — all organized excursions from a relaxing cruise. With so many great cruises to choose from, we’ve decided to round up the five you need to take at least once.
Round the World Cruise
Circumnavigate the globe while only unpacking once, and dive deep into the culture of over 100 ports in under a year. Sail on the Viking Sun, and touch down in 111 destinations across 53 countries in a span of 245 days — the industry’s longest continuous world cruise. Live on a luxury ship with the comforts of home over the course of eight months, and embark on a free excursion at every port, a perk Viking encourages its passengers to embrace. Stay overnight in 23 of the route’s destinations, and immerse yourself in the history and culture by exploring Edinburgh’s former royal residence of Edinburgh Castle, going shopping in New York City’s iconic Times Square and discovering the End of the World in Argentina’s Ushuaia as you cruise the world’s greatest ports all in one journey.
A polar expedition into the untamed beauty of Antarctica affords ample opportunity for spectacular wildlife photography and viewing. Designed for outdoor enthusiasts, a cruise to the world’s virgin territories transports you across snow-covered landscapes of towering glaciers, and invites the opportunity for personal encounters with blue whales, armies of emperor penguins and spotted leopard seals. Serious adventurers explore the vast expanses of the White Continent on sea kayaking excursions, extended hikes and snowshoeing adventures.
Elegantly snaking through ten countries and into the Black Sea, a cruise along the culture-rich banks on the shimmering waters of the Danube River illustrates the best of Central Europe. The region’s fusion of vibrant capitals and timeless villages have witnessed a succession of historical events and cultural achievements, as evidenced by its collection of medieval cathedrals and historic hilltop castles. On a cruise along the Danube, observe the Hungarian Parliament illuminated against the river’s calm waters in the evening, cycle the streets of Amsterdam and navigate its network of legendary canals, and learn the Viennese waltz while exploring Austria’s musical heritage.
One of Europe’s major waterways, the Rhine River has its sources in Switzerland, coursing through Germany and the Netherlands, making its way to the North Sea. Cruise along storybook villages through the Rhine Gorge, visit the vineyards on the French countryside on a port excursion from Paris, or sample rieslings at a German vineyard. Sail through Central Europe’s most popular cultural hubs and stop on the Rhine River’s largest metropolis of Cologne. Time your cruise to the explosion of colorful tulips in the expansive fields of the Netherlands, or explore the Rhine between the end of November and late December during its festive holiday season. Experience Europe’s spirited Christmas atmosphere at enchanting Christmas markets in charming villages by sipping on warm mugs of Glühwein and spiced apple cider as you browse the stalls of wooden handcrafted toys, delicate glass ornaments and nativity figurines.
The Greek Islands
Set sail from Venice and venture into the Greek Islands for a warm Mediterranean getaway. Designed for sun seekers and beach lovers, a cruise through the traditional villages and sandy coastlines of the Greek Islands will introduce you to the white stonewashed buildings of Santorini, where you can observe the sun dip behind the island’s caldera, the very volcanic crater that gave the island its existence. Then relax on the sun-drenched beaches on Mykonos, where its island nightlife extends well into the morning. Sip ouzo and gorge on fresh calamari in charming hillside taverns set in a once powerful empire.