These days, cruises aren’t just warm-weather vacations for the retired (although, they can certainly still be that). As cruise ships continue to dock at sought-after destinations, more travelers are forgoing traditional trips and making plans to arrive by boat. And why not? Cruises are an ideal way to explore the world. Here’s a look ahead at the top five cruise destinations for 2019.
5. Palma de Mallorca, Spain
Located in the Balearic Islands off the coast of Spain, Palma de Mallorca is the capital of its island namesake and a stop for many European cruise lines. A vibrant city filled with lush trees and combining ancient architecture with modern conveniences, Palma de Mallorca was named one of the world’s most-visited cities in 2018, according to the Mastercard Index. Popular sites include the Palma Cathedral, built in 1229 and located directly on the waterfront, and Palma’s Old Town, a section of the city where tourists can amble through the narrow, medieval streets. Shoppers will delight in the tree-lined Paseo del Borne, a neighborhood filled with outdoor cafes and luxury retail shops. After a long day of sightseeing, make sure to stop into a tapas restaurant for a glass of Mallorcan wine and a plate of patatas bravas.
4. St. Petersburg, Russia
St. Petersburg, Russia’s second-largest city, is the country’s epicenter for arts and culture. The city blends the essence of old-world Europe with modern-day Russia and its attractions draw tourists from around the world. Located on the innermost tip of the Gulf of Finland, St. Petersburg has stunning architecture, rich culture and historical sites. The State Hermitage Museum is world-renowned for its artwork and is divided into six separate buildings, including the Winter Palace, the winter residence for Russian monarchs of the past. Another must-see is the opulent Catherine’s Palace, the summer residence of Catherine the Great. Catherine’s Palace is perhaps best known for its Amber Room — a remarkable room constructed entirely of amber and gold leaf. In the evening, art lovers should make plans to watch the famed Russian ballet at one of the city’s elegant theaters.
3. Québec City, Canada
When travelers discover Québec City, they quickly become enchanted by the town’s quaint architecture and strong French influence. Even better, Québec City offers all the appeal of Europe without the hassle of traveling across the ocean. Located on the St. Lawrence River in Eastern Canada, Québec City is a worthy cruise ship destination. The narrow and winding cobblestone streets found in the Old Port will charm wandering tourists with its many shops, art galleries and restaurants. The nearby neighborhood of Old Québec is equally delightful and a must-visit for history buffs. Old Québec contains the Petit-Champlain district and the Place-Royale, the site of the first French settlement in North America. Plus, the iconic Chateau Frontenac, one of the most photographed hotels in the world, is sure to be a hit on your Instagram feed. For those craving time spent in nature, make sure to visit Montmorency Falls, a gorgeous natural wonder just 15 minutes outside the city.
2. Dubai, United Arab Emirates
Dubai, a Middle Eastern country located in the United Arab Emirates, is quickly rising in the ranks of places to visit. In fact, according to Arabian Business, Dubai drew a record number of tourists — 8.1 million to be exact — in the first half of 2018. Since Dubai sits on the Arabian Gulf and is a stop on several various cruise lines, we foresee Dubai as a premier destination for cruisers in the upcoming year. This is because Dubai is not your average port of call. From its towering architecture to its man-made islands, Dubai is a dizzying example of a modern city. Not only can you visit the world’s tallest building, the Burj Khalifa, but you can also ski and snowboard indoors at Ski Dubai — a massive indoor ski resort within city limits. Dubai also has gorgeous white-sand beaches for relaxation and luxury shopping for trendsetters. For those who prefer more adventurous shopping experience, the city has many markets, called “souks,” to shop for textiles, gold, spices and more.
1. Glacier Bay, Alaska
Alaska, one of the final frontiers, is not for the faint of heart. But for those willing to forsake warmer weather and make the trip, it does not disappoint.
Glacier Bay, an inner waterway on Alaska’s Southeastern coast, is becoming a notable destination for cruises. From the convenience of a cruise ship, visitors can witness the jaw-dropping scenery of Alaska’s rugged coast first-hand. From the craggy mountaintops rising behind the massive glaciers to the floating icebergs of all shapes and sizes, Glacier Bay is simply stunning. Lucky sightseers may observe a calving glacier or spy a cresting Orca whale. Upon exiting the ship, Glacier Bay National Park can be explored on foot or by sea — there are many walking trails and kayak tours available for the adventurous traveler. Either way, Glacier Bay’s breathtaking landscape is sure to impress, making this stop a once-in-a-lifetime experience and number one on our list of cruise destinations for 2019.
About the writer: Jersey Griggs is a freelance writer for hire based out of Portland, Maine. A certified yoga instructor, a ski fanatic and a travel junkie, Jersey is always planning her next big trip. To learn more about Jersey, check out her website or follow her on Twitter.