Sometimes, it’s the journey that teaches a lot about the destination. ~ Drake
When it comes to cruise trips, it’s more evident than ever. Spending days cruising through the sea or river, the journey becomes a huge part of the travel. And more often than not, the destination just acts a supplement to the journey.
Lately, I have been dreaming about a cruise trip but owing to the variety of options available, it has confused me more than helped me in fixing on one.
So, I thought of asking my favorite travel bloggers of the best cruise trips you have got to experience in 2018 that’s nothing short of a bucket list experiencebucket list experience.
Here it goes.
Panama Canal Cruise – Best Cruise Trips
John Widmer of Roaming Around the World (Follow his blog on Facebook) highly recommends going for a classic cruise voyage through a Panama Canal Cruise.
It’s an incredible feat of engineering that makes for a fascinating cruise experience. Transiting the canal on a cruise is an all-day affair, that crosses continents right through the middle of Panama.
The journey from the Atlantic Ocean to the Pacific (or in reverse) is usually part of a lengthier two-week itinerary. It includes various port stops throughout the Caribbean and Central America. But the highlight of any Panama Canal cruise, of course, is the day the ship transits this famous waterway.
It all begins early in the morning when a special Panama Canal pilot boards the ship to take over from the captain. He then navigates through the complex series of locks. It’s astonishing to experience the enormous cruise being lifted up as the locks fill with water.
It’s a tight passage too! During our Panama Canal cruise on the Celebrity Infinity, we were so close to the sides of the canal. And sometimes, we could carry-on conversations in Spanish with the workers on the land. At times, there were literally only a few inches on either side of the ship.
Yet further through the transit, the locks give way to Lake Gatun. The skinny lake feels more like a river and provides a stunning backdrop. It is fascinating cruising several hours through the Panamanian jungle, as tropical birds fly overhead.
This natural scenery mixed with the excitement of this engineering marvel all makes for an epic cruise experience!
Alaska – Best Cruise Trips
Dan Bagby of Honeymoon Always(Follow his blog on Instagram) tells us more about his surreal experience in an Alaskan cruise.
There is no better way to experience Alaska’s Inner Passage than by cruise. Moving along the Alaskan coast, we were able to see natural wonders like Glacier Bay. Getting close to a Glacier and seeing it crash into the ocean is quite a treat. Throughout our Alaskan Cruise, we had the opportunity to see marine mammals and other wildlife. Imagine spotting whales in the ocean and bears on the coast.
Most cruises will have you stop in Ketchikan, a small town known for its Salmon fishing. Take the opportunity to go fishing, and enjoy some seafood. And to get up close and personal with bears who won’t even mind you as they fish for salmon.
Regardless where you stop, you should find yourself with plenty of things to do. It could be dog sledging over a glacier, trekking through an ice cave or kayaking past whales and other marine life.
There are several cruise lines in Alaska. For a large cruise line with tons of amenities onboard, I recommend Norwegian Cruise Line. They have a new ship this year, the Norwegian Bliss, designed with special touches for an Alaskan Cruise. Azamara cruises are on smaller ships where there is high caliber service, but comes with a steeper price!
Nile River, Egypt – Best Cruise Trips
Nick and Val of Wandering Wheatleys (Follow their blog on Instagram) share their experience of cruising down the Nile.
Cruising down the Nile river is not only a peaceful respite from the dusty madness of Egypt’s cities, it’s a journey back in time.
While there are numerous options for sailing on different parts of the Nile. The most popular itinerary is to begin in the city of Aswan, just downriver of the High Dam (the largest dam in the world), and sail north to the ancient royal city of Luxor.
We began our four day trip with a visit the island temple of Philae. It was half submerged for decades before UNESCO took on the monumental task of moving the entire temple – block by block – to higher ground.
The following day we were treated to a pair of ancient Egyptian temples. In the morning we visited Kom Ombo which is dedicated to both Sobek, the crocodile-headed god, and Horus, the falcon god. Over 300 hundred mummified crocodiles have been found in the vicinity. And you can view several in the nearby museum!
Next, we visited Edfu which is one of the largest and best-preserved temples.Greek pharaohs built these temples during their reign over Egypt.
Did you know Greek Pharaohs ruled Egypt for almost 3 centuries?!
We spent an afternoon watching the sun set over the Nile as we passed by farms and granite quarries.
Our Egyptian Nile Cruise trip ended in the legendary city of Luxor with a visit to the Valley of the Kings where over 60 intricately painted royal tombs have been unearthed. This includes the tomb of King Tutankhamen – one of the most significant archaeological discoveries of the 20th century!
Offering fascinating history, stunning temples, beautiful sunsets, and luxurious accommodations, cruising on the Nile was truly a bucket list experience for us.
European Christmas Market Cruise – Best Cruise Trips
Hannah of Eat Sleep Breathe Travel (Follow her blog on Instagram) couldn’t stop talking about her European Christmas Market Cruise experience in December 2017.
Europe’s Christmas markets are magical, but for a truly enchanting way to experience them take a European Christmas market cruise. I did a Danube River Cruise from Germany to Budapest with Viking River Cruises. It was the perfect mix of big cities and small, fairytale towns. We got to experience some world-famous Christmas Markets, such as the markets in Nuremberg, Vienna, Budapest. Along with smaller, more local markets including Regensburg and Passau.
Traveling by river cruise also meant we were in central locations for these stops; we were within walking distance to the city center from most of the ports. This made it easy to go out and come back as we desired; a great option when we needed to get out of the cold for a little bit.
Not only were the cities, all done up for the holidays, but the ship was beautifully decorated for Christmas as well. Twinkling lights on the decks, trees trimmed in sparkling ornaments, and some special festive treats including gluhwein (spiced, hot wine), stollen (a fruit and nut bread), and gingerbread.
What made this cruise even more magical was that the scenic cruising that European river cruises are known for is still incredible. Even in the winter.
We cruised through the Wachau Valley and it was absolutely stunning. You could bundle up and watch for castles and vineyards from the deck. Or stay warm inside and look out one of the many windows.
While a winter river cruise through Europe may seem odd, a European Christmas market cruise promises to be magical. And nothing short of a once in a lifetime experience.
Find out more about her European Christmas Market Cruise experience in her blog Eat Sleep Breathe Travel.
Mediterranean Cruise – Best Cruise Trips
Lyn & Steve Baker of A Hole In My Shoe (Follow their blog on Facebook) goes on about their most surreal cruise experience in the Mediterranean when they sailed from Barcelona to Venice in 2013.
We were sailing on a brand new ship, the Royal Princess. And to top it off it was our first time in Europe which made it pretty exciting. From watching the progress of the ship being built to arriving in Barcelona to board the ship, it was pretty exhilarating!
We sailed to some incredible ports of Toulon, Mykonos, Rome, Florence, Naples, Istanbul, Athens and finally Venice.
Each port saw us visiting some incredible sights, the Cote d’Azur, Little Venice and the Windmills of Mykonos, Colosseum, Trevi Fountain, Spanish Steps, Pantheon, Leaning Tower of Pisa, Tuscan countryside, Florence, Pompeii, the Amalfi coast, the Blue Mosque, Hagia Sophia, the Grand Bazaar, Acropolis and the changing of the guards in Athens.
But nothing could prepare us for the beauty of sailing into the Grand Canal in Venice. It was amazing and emotional experience for us. With Pavarotti playing on the ships’ speakers creating the perfect atmosphere for our very first glimpse of this charismatic city.
This Mediterranean Cruise was so spectacular that only a few months after this cruise that we decided to begin writing and inspiring others to travel.
Norway – Best Cruise Trips
Lisa of TheHotFlashPacker (Check out her blog on Instagram) talks about her wonderful cruise experience through the Fjords of Norway.
I took Celebrity Cruises for this itinerary, with pickup and drop in Amsterdam. However, there are a number of cruise companies that offer trips up the west coast of Norway.
Unlike other European cruises that stop in cities of a few million people, the Norwegian cruises stop in villages of a few hundred or few thousand people. While a visit from land is time-consuming due to the road structure in the fjord lands, it’s possible to visit a new village and new fjord each day on a cruise.
Not only do you get a chance to see culture in the various foods, arts, and architecture, the natural beauty is the real draw.
It’s great to wake up early, grab a cup of coffee or hot tea and plant yourself on the deck. And watch the amazing fjord scenery go by early in the morning.
While in port, you can visit the coastal towns, wooden stave churches, hillside viewpoints, waterfalls, and even glaciers.
Some of the highlights that might be visited include the Atlantic Ocean Road, Bergen Old town, Trollstigen (troll highway), Preikestolen (Pulpit Rock), Olden glaciers, and the Fram railway. My favourite day of the cruise was hiking around the village of Geirangerfjord – to an Alpaca farm.
Ha Long Bay – Best Cruise Trips
Claudia of My Adventures Across the World(Follow her blog on Instagram) was happy to share her account aboard the Ha Long Bay Cruise.
Ha Long Bay, in Vietnam, is one of the unique places on earth. And, the best way to explore Ha Long Bay is on a cruise, that can last anything from one to four days. Though there are companies that offer day trips to Ha Long Bay from Hanoi, it is hardly advisable to give it such a short time. The area is vast, and savouring it slowly is the best way to enjoy Halong Bay.
Cruises typically leave from Ha Long city and make several stops along the way.
It could be to explore the many caves in the region, kayak around oyster and pearl farms, or to visit local villages.
The routes vary, depending on the company. Since it is a very popular thing to do, it is better to enquire before joining the exact route. Some boats go on alternative routes which means there will be fewer boats around: do not underestimate the pleasure of being the only boat and enjoying a clear view.
Boats are typically nice, though there obviously is a difference between regular cruises and luxury ones. All cabins have two beds and a bathroom with running water and even hot showers. Meals are all provided, and the food on board is freshly cooked and is all local cuisine.
Singapore – Best Cruise Trips
We recently went to Singapore & Malaysia and booked the Leading Cruise Liner in the Asia Pacific region i.e. Star Cruises. Being the Most Popular Cruise Line in Asia, Star Cruises provide the best cruise experience. We were really thrilled and happy to travel with them.
They have a plethora of ships available and we planned to travel on Superstar Gemini. The ship was gigantic with 9 floors or decks. There was a total of 765 cabins in Superstar Gemini with a passenger capacity of 1,526 (based on lower berths).
The fleets operate in the following Destinations – China, Hongkong, Indonesia, Japan, Malaysia, Myanmar, Philippines, South Korea, Taiwan, Vietnam, and Thailand.
There are multiple sources of Entertainment such as Operas, Dance Shows, Magic Shows, Amusement Halls, Activity Rooms, Games Rooms, DJ Night, Lounges, Circus to keep you entertained to the core.
We were amazed to see such a diverse range of options ranging from Basketball Court, Beauty Salon, Foot Reflexology, Golf driving range, Jogging track, Gymnasium, Karaoke lounge, Spa, Swimming Pool, and so on.
We had a fantastic memorable trip with Star Cruises. It is a wonderful opportunity for people looking for unperturbed relaxation and especially honeymooners, so would definitely recommend the same!
Additional Read: A Singapore Affair – Things to do in Singapore
Antartica – Best Cruise Trips
Matilda of The Travel Sisters (Follow their blog on Facebook) talks about their once in a lifetime experience of cruising through Antartica.
My Lindblad Expeditions or National Geographic trip to Antarctica was without a doubt the best cruise I have ever taken. Even though there was much joking onboard the ship about how this was not a cruise but an expedition, the entire trip was awesome whether it really was a cruise or expedition.
It took us almost two days of crossing the notorious Drake Passage (fortunately not too bad during this trip) to reach the White Continent.
Antarctica was breathtaking, stunning, and magnificent beyond what any words can describe.
Our days were spent enjoying the beautiful landscape full of icebergs and glaciers and enjoying the diverse wildlife. We made one or two landings a day by Zodiac boats for close encounters. We even had the opportunity to jump into icy waters for a polar plunge.
Even though the entire trip was impressive, the highlight for me was getting close to the penguins. There were so many penguins but I never grew tired of seeing them or took their presence for granted. Given that penguins do not have any natural enemies on land, they have no fear of humans. So, they happily waddle over to you. This was easily my most memorable cruise and in fact my most memorable trip ever!
So, have you been on any cruise trips? And what has your experience been like?
Let me know in the comments below.
Featured image by Matilda of Travel Sisters.