10Best: You Won't Believe These Remarkable Cruise Ship Destinations

  • Want to visit Rockhopper penguins? You'll have to sail to Antarctica.

    Cruise Ships Track Adorable and Awe-Inspiring Sights

    Penguins – oh, so cute. Cruise ships visit these rockhopper penguins in Antarctica, for a plummy fee.
    However, affordable cruises also sail to hard-to-reach delights all over the planet.
    Getting to these spots is a snap. Relax and slumber the night away while your ship slices through the deep blue sea. Morning may deliver a pink-dappled sunrise over the island of Bali. Or perhaps the giant, layered clamshells of the Sydney Opera House. Perhaps you're sailing Alaska's coast, where the morning greeting is delivered by frisky dolphins leaping alongside the ship.
    Cruise ships large and small sail to spectacles rarely seen, as well as hard-to-reach classics, such as St. Petersburg, Russia.

    Photo courtesy of Nick Cobbing/Hurtigruten

  • The Sea of Cortez is a winter home to thousands of gray whales, dolphins, killer whales and other marine mammals.

    Dolphins Dance, Whales do the Baja Flip

    A gray whale thrusts its bulk high above the water in a 60,000-pound morning stretch.
    The Sea of Cortez between the Baja California peninsula and Mexico's mainland is a marine mammal winter retreat. Passengers aboard Un-Cruise Adventure's small, 210-passenger ship clamber aboard a skiff to watch for whale tail flips. But dolphins grab center stage, with 50 of them leaping and cavorting in a spectacular show.
    Lucky people on that skiff. Yet any small ship cruise to the Sea of Cortez during winter months will catch some kind of heart-stopping marine mammal show.

    Photo courtesy of Un-Cruise Adventures

  • Northern Lights dance above the sun deck of the MS Trollfjord.

    Who Turned on the Northern Lights? It's Showtime

    A trip to a far-northern latitude to catch the Northern Lights can be a complete flop. The dancing lights are elusive. But a winter cruise along coasts of Norway or Greenland has a good chance of catching a display. With dozens of watchful eyes on the lookout into the wee hours every night, chances increase for catching the swaying green curtain. Hurtigruten, a Norwegian cruise line popular with English speakers, has daily departures sailing the coast of Norway; some itineraries include Greenland. 

    Photo courtesy of Magnus Sabel/Hurtigruten

  • Lava flows into the sea from active volcano Kilauea on the island of Hawaii.

    Sealed with a "Hiss" – Where Lava Meets Sea

    Hawaii's Kilauea volcano has been erupting since 1983, and has been a newsmaker lately as lava destroys property and homes on Hawaii's Big Island. The news is unfortunate, but volcanoes are also fascinating.
    Carnival Cruises and the Holland America Line travel to Hawaii's Big Island. Passengers can visit Hawaii Volcanoes National Park and see sights, like an old lava flow that made a state highway impassable. Or they can take a helicopter tour over the bubbling crater. The lava flow is best seen where it flows into the sea, so a boat excursion or the cruise ship itself makes the best viewing platform.

    Photo courtesy of Carnival Cruises

  • The islands of Indonesia, including Bali and Komodo, are most easily reached by cruise.

    Lost Islands of Jurassic Park

    Indonesia's remote micro-islands are a spread of deserted beaches and warm, crystal blue waters. Red coral reefs invite snorkeling. Yet the jungly islands also resemble a throwback to pre-historic times. On one island, peer into the caldera of the volcano that dimmed planetary light for months in 1815. On another island, live volcano Kerlud glows with smoke and fire. Visit the remote islands of Indonesia on the 28-passenger Ombok Putih with the small-ship cruise company, AdventureSmith Explorations.

    Photo courtesy of Jenifer Hayes/AdventureSmith Explorations

  • The Komodo dragon can be six feet long. Check out the claws on this carnivore. Fortunately, he lives on Indonesia's far-off Komodo Island.

    Dinosaurs are Dead, but Komodo Dragon Makes you Wonder

    Indonesia's remote islands become convincingly pre-historic when you meet a Komodo dragon. This giant, meat-eating reptile is creepily dinosaur-like in size and fierceness.
    If you visit Komodo Island, don't let a camera swing on its strap; that signals the fast-running, jaw-snapping Komodo dragon to charge. Only park rangers working for Komodo National Park are allowed to guide you through the jungle. Their defense is a simple stick.
    Still itching to see Komodo dragons? Holland America Line makes port calls to Komodo Island on Indonesia cruises and some Asia cruises. 

    Photo courtesy of Photo courtesy of Anne Chalfant

  • The iconic Greek island of Santorini is a long ferry jaunt from Greece. Breeze by on a cruise.

    Greek Island Beckons Like a Blue-and-White Postcard

    Santorini is the alluring Greek island brightening many a travel poster. White-washed buildings dotted with blue roofs are stunning against black volcanic cliffs.
    Finding your way to this bright, sunny isle is another story. Cruise ships departing Athens on a Mediterranean cruise often call at Santorini. You can sit in a cafe overlooking the stunningly blue sea. Or visit black sand beaches or a remarkable archeological site where volcanic ash preserved artifacts from 1500 B.C.

    Photo courtesy of Celebrity Cruises

  • The Hermitage in St. Petersburg, Russia, has an astounding art collection that includes many Impressionist works.

    Treasures of St. Petersburg Top World Travelers' Lists

    St. Petersburg, Russia, is difficult to reach by land, expensive by air, but easy on a ship. Sea cruises visit St. Petersburg on a route including Scandinavian and Baltic countries. A river cruise is also efficient, sailing between Moscow and St. Petersburg, with the bonus of four days in St. Petersburg.
    The Russian city does merit at least a day to explore just its state museum, The Hermitage, which houses one of the world's largest art collections. A substantial number of Impressionist work is included. The palaces of St. Petersburg are fascinating confections of pastel, glamorously gilded.
    Royal Caribbean and Oceania Cruises offer Baltic sails that include St. Petersburg.

    Photo courtesy of Royal Caribbean International

  • The Egyptian pyramids at Giza and archeological sites such as Luxor on the Nile River are most easily visited by cruise.

    Skittish About Egypt? Stick to the Waterways

    Egypt always bounces back to the tourism trail. Following recent years of political turmoil, Nile River cruises are again breezing down the river past Luxor and its remarkable temple ruins, as well as other major Egyptian sites. The Great Sphinx and pyramids at Giza are also part of Nile cruising. Right now is a good time to sail the Nile or a sea cruise that calls in Egypt; prices are still lower than usual.
    Silversea Cruises sails to Egypt. Viking River Cruises sails the Nile. 

    Photo courtesy of Anne Chalfant

  • Learn to drive a sled dog team yourself on a shore excursion out of Skagway, Alaska, with Celebrity Cruises.

    You'll be Telling This "Mushy" Tale Forever

    Flying along on a sled pulled by a team of sled dogs is one wild ride. Head to Alaska on a cruise that offers a shore excursion to ride with these intelligent dogs that explode with doggie exuberance.
    On a Disney Cruise Line cruise, an excursion from Skagway, Alaska, includes a ride with a team pulling a wheeled sled made for summertime romps through the forest. Afterward, play with fuzzy husky puppies. Celebrity Cruises' sled dog experience includes a helicopter flight from Skagway to a snowy field and lessons in "mushing" – which means driving the team of dogs yourself.

    Photo courtesy of Celebrity Cruises

  • Sailing under San Francisco's Golden Gate Bridge is a thrilling way to arrive.

    If You're Going to San Francisco, Make a Grand Entrance

    Sailing under San Francisco's Golden Gate Bridge is a spine-tingling experience. It may not draw the same crowd that watched Cunard's Queen Mary 2 glide under the bridge, as the largest ship to ever sail through it. But all hands will be on deck for that moment of passing under the world's most famous bridge.
    The view of San Francisco glowing against the hills will draw "oohs" and "ahhs" from the crowd. Many Pacific Coast cruises make port calls in San Francisco; Celebrity Cruises, Norwegian Cruise Line and Princess Cruises are among the fair city's top suitors.

    Photo courtesy of Port of San Francisco

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