Beyond the Caribbean: Different and Exotic Cruise Destinations

A woman on a cruise ship once said “We like cruising, but this will be our last one. We’ve been to the Eastern Caribbean and the Western Caribbean. So this Southern Caribbean will be our last one.” Such a shame to think that this person could be limiting herself so much. Perhaps she didn’t like to fly or drive very far to catch a cruise ship so a cruise to other locations would be off limits to her. However for those who love to see the world, the cruise industry offers an endless array of destination beyond the Caribbean. While for some cruisers, the ship is the destination and repeat ports would never be a problem, others always want to see something new. Here are a few options for those who wish to see more of the world than just the Caribbean.


Many cruisers may not realize that the major cruise lines that serve the Caribbean like Carnival, NCL, Royal Caribbean, Holland America, Princess, and Celebrity, also offer European Cruises. During the summer months the cruise lines tend to move their fleets from the Caribbean to the Mediterranean in order to both take advantage of the summer tourist season in Europe and avoid the Atlantic hurricane season. Other cruise lines like Costa and MSC, offer year round cruising in the Mediterranean. These cruises can often be port intensive and visit the some of Europe’s most famous places like Rome, Venice, Athens, and Barcelona. Other iteneraries include stops in less traveled places like Croatia, Naples, or Gibraltar. Mediterranean cruises can even include stops in Africa to places like Morocco and Egypt, or even the Middle East in places like Istanbul and Israel. For those who prefer a cooler climate summer cruise, Northern European cruises may fit the bill. These cruises often include scenic cruising through Fjords and visits to classic ports like Copenhagen, Helsinki, Oslo, Reykjavik, Riga, St. Petersburg and Stockholm. Cruise lines serving these destinations include Celebrity, Costa, Holland America, NCL, Princess, and Royal Caribbean. The Canary Islands, Azores and Madeira are popular destinations for European cruisers. These islands mix an exotic Atlantic Ocean location with the European cultures of Spain and Portugal. Cruise lines serving the Canary Islands include Celebrity, Fred. Olsen, MSC Cruises, P&O Cruises, Royal Caribbean, and Thomson Cruises. Trans-Atlantic cruises which either start or end in Europe, also include stops at many of these European ports.

Alaska, New England, and Canada

During the Summer and Fall cruise lines offer voyages to some of the most scenic areas in North America. Alaska and British Columbia have long been popular Summer destinations. Again, by relocating to Alaska, the cruise lines not only avoid the Atlantic hurricane season, but also bring their passengers to some of the world’s most spectacular sites like Glacier Bay, Tracy Arm, and the Hubbard Glacier. Passengers also enjoy activities like whale watching and helicopter glacier tours. Cruise lines serving Alaska include all the major US marketed lines. In the Fall, the spectacular Autumn leaf colors present the biggest attraction to Canada and New England cruisers. American history buffs love the opportunity to visit historic ports like Boston and New York. Canadian destinations include quaint villages like St. John’s New Brunswick and large historic cities like Montreal and Quebec City. While these cruises may not offer the warm weather poolside party of a Caribbean cruise, they make up for it in their spectacular colors and scenery.

Mexican Riviera, South America, and Antarctica

The most popular features of a South American and Antarctic is the spectacular scenery. The Mexican Riviera offers beautiful beaches with in a easy reach of California home ports. South American cruises feature amazing “sea” days that included Beagle Channel, Rounding Cape Horn, Antarctic Cruising, and Amalia Glacier. Cruisers can also sample some Brazilian culture in Rio De Janero and learn to do the Argentine Tango in Buenos Aires. For many the wildlife like penquins, seals, and whales present the greatest attraction. Cruise lines serving South America/Antarctica include Azamara, Celebrity, Holland America, NCL,
Oceania, Princess, and Royal Caribbean. Smaller, voyage oriented, cruise lines like Hurtigruten and Quark Expeditions’ Kapitan Khlebnikov sail Antarctic cruises that actually offer land visits to the Southern Continent. For those who prefer a warm weather cruise, many of the popular American market cruise lines offer cruises to the Mexican Riviera. Carnival offers the popular three day cruises from Long Beach to Ensenada and Catalina Island. Holland America, Carnival and Royal Caribbean provide longer Mexican Riviera itineraries that include visits to Cabo San Lucas, Acapulco and Puerto Vallarta.

Polynesia, Asia, New Zealand, Australia and Africa

Many cruise lines offer either year round cruising or short season cruises to Polynesia, Asia, New Zealand and Australia. NCL America offers year round inter island cruising in Hawaii. Other popular American market cruise lines including Holland America, Carnival, Royal Caribbean, and Princess, offer one way cruises to and from Hawaii and either Ensenada or Vancouver or round trips from San Diego or Los Angeles with stops in Mexico that fill the foreign port requirement of the Passenger Service Vessel act. For visits to the South Pacific some lines offer the occasional season. In 2011 and 2012 Celebrity will be offering a season that includes cruises to Hawaii, French Polynesia, New Zealand and Australia. Popular ports on these destinations include Dunedin, Bora Bora, Sydney and Melbourne. The Paul Gaugin sails year round in French Polynesia, and Princess and P&O often frequent Australia and New Zealand. For those truly seeking the exotic, Asian cruises visit places like Shanghai, Nagasaki, Taipei and South Korea. For those wishing to explore Egypt, Uniworld and Viking even offer luxurious Nile River Cruises.

Cruisers who find themselves bored with the Caribbean have a myriad of choices as long as their budget permits. Caribbean cruises are some of the most budget friendly offerings in the industry, however for those who can afford a pricier itinerary, the are very few places in the world that they can’t visit on their favorite cruise line. Contact your travel agent or your favorite cruise line to find our what they offer beyond the Caribbean. We invite our readers to share with us their stories of cruising beyond the Caribbean.