The Top 5 Places to Cruise This Summer
See the destinations cruise experts recommend for a summer escape.
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Cruising has long been a popular summer vacation option, thanks to warmer weather and versatile itineraries. But with multiple destinations and cruise lines to research, where do you begin? "One of the things you need to be careful of is to make sure you match up who you are and what you enjoy as an individual with the right cruise line and right ship," says Andy Melilli, co-owner and vice president of CruiseExperts.com, a full-service online travel agency that specializes in cruising. In addition to choosing the right line and ship, vacationers should also consider where they'd like to explore. To help travelers, U.S. News tapped cruising experts for their recommendations.
Alaska is "always one of the big-time destinations" to sail to in the summer, Melilli says. Alaska's unpredictable weather, cooler temperatures and short days in the late fall, winter and early spring make for undesirable cruising conditions. Ships sail to Alaska between late April and early September, bringing cruisers to popular ports, including Ketchikan, Juneau, Anchorage and Glacier Bay. "The fabulous thing about Alaska is that it's a great opportunity to do high-adventure activities, to get out into nature, to go hiking, to go kayaking," says ShermansCruise Editor-in-Chief Sherri Eisenberg. You'll find summer sailings to Alaska available on Royal Caribbean, Carnival Cruise Line and Silversea Cruises, among others.
With an array of cultural sights, incredible cuisine and ample excursions, the Mediterranean is a popular summer cruise destination. "In the Mediterranean, it's going to be warmer, and you're going to get the best weather," compared to other times of the year, says Simon Duvall, community manager for Cruiseline.com and editorial director of #CruiseChat on Twitter. Mediterranean itineraries include stops in Barcelona, the south of France and Santorini, among other locales. Eisenberg also recommends the Mediterranean because you can experience many of Europe's top destinations in a short period. Travelers seeking a Mediterranean escape should explore itineraries on Princess Cruises, Celebrity Cruises and Regent Seven Seas Cruises.
Canada and New England
While you may associate cruising to Canada and New England with fall and leaf peeping, Duvall says this region is a great summer option. "Over the last few years, cruise lines have really expanded the summer cruise options. There are a lot of activities to experience and better weather in the summer than in the fall," he says, citing higher chances of rain in the autumn. Popular ports include Bar Harbor in Maine, Boston, Halifax in Nova Scotia, Montreal and Quebec City. What's more, the region offers opportunities for unique activities such as culinary excursions and city tours. Holland America Line and Oceania Cruises feature several summer New England and Canada itineraries.
Turquoise waters and pristine beaches beckon to vacationers come summertime. And lines such as Royal Caribbean and Celebrity Cruises continue to introduce newer, bigger ships in the region, translating to more promotions. "It's probably best to wait a little closer to the sail date ... there's a lot better chance of last-minute deals," Duvall says. Plus, major cruise lines offer diverse itineraries, ranging from three-day jaunts to longer seven- to 10-day sailings to islands such as the Bahamas, Jamaica, St. Kitts and Curacao. And since children are out of school, cruising is a popular summer vacation choice for families, thanks to kids clubs and island excursion options such as snorkeling tours and dolphin encounters.
Northern Europe is synonymous with quaint cities and Scandinavian culture, and a cruise through the Baltics allows travelers to soak it all in. Cruises to the Baltics are "always big in the summertime," Melilli says, since it's not an area you can cruise to year-round due to the weather. But May through August ushers in pleasant temperatures in the 50s to 70s. Itineraries through the Baltics might include stops in Stockholm, Copenhagen, Denmark, Tallinn, Estonia, and St. Petersburg, Russia. Excursions vary from chocolate-making workshops and beer and food tastings to medieval tours. Norwegian Cruise Line, MSC Cruises and Azamara Club Cruises offer summer sailings throughout the Baltics.
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