Choosing a Cruise Destination Tips

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(41) Repositioning Cruises

Repositioning cruises are used to move a ship from one part of the world to another due to seasonal scheduling. A transatlantic or transpacific repositioning cruise is cruising in its purest form, reminiscent of the days when sailing was the only way to cross the ocean.

Come along on a recent voyage from Lisbon, Portugal to Miami, Florida with Oceania Cruises. Eight days at sea. No land in sight. By day, the distant horizon becomes your world. By night, the black velvet sky is filled with stars and planets usually obscured by city lights. There are no schedules to keep except the ones that please you most. The ship is an oasis of leisure and luxury. This crossing on Oceania Cruises moved the ship from the Mediterranean to the Caribbean for the winter season. It was under $1,000 per person for the eight day crossing in a spacious cabin with a private balcony. Airfare from major U.S. airports to Lisbon and Miami back to the gateway was complimentary. Where could you vacation for over a week with free airfare, luxury accommodations, gourmet meals, non-stop activities and entertainment and plenty of pampering for as little over $100 per day per person?

All major cruise lines offer repositioning cruises throughout all parts of the world. Surf the Web or ask your travel agent to explore repositioning cruise bargains.

  • Best Bets: The luxury of days and nights at sea totally escaping the real world.
  • Best Time: Most repositioning cruises are in mid-April to mid-May and in October.
Heads Up: While most cruise lovers are avid fans of repositioning cruises, first time cruisers should initially get their sea legs with a shorter cruise and ports of call before embarking on a long sea crossing.

   

(32) Cruising Down Under

Cruises around Australia and New Zealand are scenic and action-packed. Cruises between Australia and New Zealand offer the opportunity to circumnavigate both North and South Islands leaving from Sydney or Melbourne in Australia and Auckland in New Zealand.

  • Best Bets: Picture diving on the Great Barrier Reef or coming face to face with the Tasmanian devil.
  • Best Time: Most cruises take place in the northern hemisphere winter (southern hemisphere summer). Lucky you if you are on a world cruise that stops here and avoids the jetlag of the long, long flight from North America and Europe.

   

(31) Cruising Hawaii and the South Pacific

South Pacific cruises primarily circle the volcanic islands and coral atolls around Fiji or Tahiti. Hawaii cruises are typically seven night circle cruises within the Hawaiian Islands with ports of call to each of the five main islands: Oahu, Hawaii (the Big Island), Maui, Kauai (the Garden Island) and Molokai. Hopefully, you will get lucky and be treated the spectacular sight of lava flowing from Kilauea volcano into the Pacific Ocean.

  • Best Bets: Helicopter ride over the Kilauea volcano crater and the Road to Hana on Maui.
  • Best Time: Plan your cruise for mid-January through early April when giant humpback whales migrate to Hawaii's warm waters to mate, cavort and give birth to their young. Don't be surprise to see whales breaching the calm waters next to your cruise ship. (Note: late summer and early fall are the height of Pacific rain and hurricane season.)

   

(26) Cruising the Caribbean

Where in the world do you want to go? It's a big world and over 70 percent of it is covered by seas and inland rivers. Where do you want to cruise? Use these tips on leading cruise destinations to tickle your cruise travel fancy.

Cruising the Caribbean

The Caribbean holds the title of the hottest cruise ship destination in the world and the majority of new and repeat cruisers (especially in North America) choose the Caribbean. Cruise itineraries in the Caribbean are as diverse as the islands themselves. Sail the Eastern Caribbean with ports of call in the Bahamas, St. Thomas, St. John, St. Martin/St. Maarten and Puerto Rico. Sail the Western Caribbean for a taste of Mexico, Grand Cayman, Jamaica, Belize and the Dominican Republic. And, the Southern Caribbean offers popular ports like Dominica, Martinique, Aruba, St. Lucia and the northern coast of Venezuela.

  • Best Bets: Avoid the hectic Miami International Airport and crowded Port of Miami where as many as sixteen cruises are waiting to sail. Check out cruises from Florida ports of Ft. Lauderdale, Tampa, Port Canaveral or New Orleans, LA and Galveston, TX. Don't miss island snorkeling expeditions and a visit to the Atlantis Resort Aquarium on Paradise Island in the Bahamas.
  • Best Time: The Caribbean is a year-round cruise destination. However, the best time to cruise there is late November through May when temperatures and humidity are lower and the rainy/hurricane season is over.

   

(40) Span the World

Still can't decide where to cruise? Sail the globe with a 96-126 day world cruise. Some of the cruise lines that offer world voyages include: Regent Seven Seas, Silverseas, Cunard, Oceania, Holland America Line and Princess Cruises. Imagine sailing away from the United States to European destinations; then around the Mediterranean and through the Suez Canal and Red Sea to southern Arabia and along the coasts of India and Sri Lanka. Cross the Indian Ocean to visit Singapore, Bangkok and Hong Kong before traveling south to Australia and New Zealand. Continue sailing to explore the islands of the South Pacific and then Hawaii. Transit the Panama Canal or around South America to the islands of the Caribbean and back to the USA.

  • Best Bets: Too many to name.
  • Best Time: The most popular time for worldwide cruises is from January to March. Weather will depend on what part of the world you are in. Prices for world cruise range from $22,000 to over $100,000 per person.
Heads Up: Freighter travel is a no frills option for low cost around the world cruise travel. Meals are great, but there is no entertainment or ship sponsored shore excursions. However, picture traveling around the world in 102 days by freighter for as low as $12,000-$14,000. For more information on freighter cruises, visit www.freighterworld.com or www.freightercruises.com.

   

(39) Cruising the Northeast United States, Canada and Bermuda

Most New England and Canada cruises depart from New York, Boston, Montreal and Quebec. Some cruises turn into the Lawrence Gulf to Newfoundland before sailing up the St Lawrence River to the walled city of Quebec or French Montreal. Bermuda cruises also leave from northeast cities. Bermuda is a collection of 150 islands (only 20 are inhabited) lying 600 miles southeast of New York in the Atlantic Ocean. Most cruise ships head for the largest island Great Bermuda and ports of King's Wharf, Dockyard and St. George.

  • Best Bet: Book an excursion that includes an authentic New England Clambake.
  • Best Time: For New England and Canada, cruise when autumn foliage is at its peak from late September through October. Thanksgiving in Bermuda, anyone?

   

(37) Cruising Africa

Africa is a unique and vast cruise destination to explore. With unstable political climates in much of Africa, a cruise ship provides a more secure base for exploring the wonders of Africa from the Pillars of Hercules in Gibraltar to the southern tip of Cape Town. Holland America, Princess, Crystal, Silverseas and Cunard include African destinations on their cruise itineraries.

  • Best Bets: The romance of Casablanca adds to the mystique of Morocco. To the south, visit the "Mother City" of Cape Town with excursions exploring the sand dunes of the Namibia Desert. Book excursions that include early morning safaris or hot air balloon rides above the plains.
  • Best Time: Most cruise lines visit Africa between January and March.

   

(36) Cruising South America

South America is a continent of superlatives. The Amazon River is the world's longest river. Brazil boasts one third of the world's rainforests. Tiny Ecuador is home to more species of birds and plants than in the entire United States. There's Angel Falls, the world's tallest waterfall in Venezuela. And, Potosi, the world's highest city, is in Bolivia. Add an incredible mixture of mountains, jungles and even desert and it's easy to see why South America is a popular cruise destination. Some cruises to South America travel from North America along the west coast of South America. Some cruises visit the extraordinary Galapagos Islands. Other cruises cover the east coast often including the Amazon River. There are also small ship cruises along the Amazon River.

  • Best Bet: For intrepid cruisers, take a full circle route cruise along both coasts rounding the notorious waters of Cape Horn.
  • Best Time: The primary South American cruise season is from October to April.

   

(35) Cruising the Roof of the World

The roof of the world starts in the Arctic and circles spectacular coastal fjords, glaciers and ice flows. Cruise ships visiting these areas vary from the larger luxury cruise ships (in the southernmost part of the Arctic) to small expedition ships with ice-hardened hulls. Expedition ships cruise the coast of Norway to Murmansk or to the Islands of Svalbard. Explore the ice fields of the Greenland coast or Baffin Island and possibly the Northwest Passage around the top of Canada. The lower Arctic areas of Reykjavik, Iceland; Prins Christian Sund and Qaqortoq, Greenland are popular ports of call on transatlantic cruises between Europe and the United States.

  • Best Bets: Views of the spectacular Aurora Borealis. Cruising amid giant icebergs in Prins Christian Sund. Getting a taste of the Land of Fire and Ice in the dramatic landscape of Iceland.
  • Best Time: Most cruises take place from June to early September when there is more daylight.

   

(34) Cruising the Bottom of the World

Antarctica is the southernmost continent, sometimes referred to as the South Pole. Actually, this is a misnomer. You won't see the actual South Pole on an Antarctic cruise. It is deep inland on a high plateau. Cruises travel the Drake Passage to Paradise Harbour and the Lemaire Channel. Antarctica is one of the most beautiful and the most forbidding places on earth. Almost 98 percent of the continent is covered by ice. Think bitterly cold, dry and windy. There are no hotels, no tourism infrastructure and no human residents on Antarctica. A cruise ship is the safest and only comfortable way to see this beautiful land.

  • Best Bets: Antarctic cruises run the gamut from working supply vessels to luxury cruise ships. Unless you are a truly adventurous and intrepid traveler, choose an Antarctic cruise that offers views of the breathtaking vistas and amazing wildlife without making landfall. If you want to get up close and personal, check out cruise tours that are members of International Association of Antarctic Tour Operators (www.iaato.org).
  • Best Time: Cruising is only possible during the southern hemisphere summer from late November to early March when temperatures are often a “balmy” 20 F.

   

(33) Cruising the Exotic Far East

In spite of the long flight to departure ports, Asia is emerging as a sought-after cruise destination. Asia cruise ports are in Thailand, Malaysia, Singapore and Indonesia, Cambodia, Vietnam, China, Korea and Japan. Star Cruises (www.starcruises.com) is an Asian cruise line with year-round itineraries. Other cruise lines offering seasonal Asia cruises include: Holland America Line, Princess Cruises, Oceania Cruises, Crystal Cruises and Royal Caribbean Cruise Line. There are also river cruises on the Yangtze River and Cruise West offers a unique small ship cruise in Japan.

  • Best Bets: Extend your cruise with a cruise tour. Walk the Great Wall of China in Beijing and travel to Xian for a glimpse of the Terra Cotta Warriors.
  • Best Time: Southeast Asia is a hot and humid tropical climate and is subject to monsoon rains mainly from July to October. Most seasonal cruises are between November to March.

   

(30) Transiting the Panama Canal

The Panama Canal is one of the wonders of the modern world. There are two levels of Panama Canal cruises, full and partial transit. Partial transits (usually part of Southern Caribbean cruise itineraries) enter from the Caribbean Sea through the first set of locks, cruise around Lake Gatun and return to the Caribbean through the same locks. Note: Read Path Between the Seas before or during your cruise.

  • Best Bet: Cruise the entire 51-mile transit up and over Central America from the Caribbean Sea to the Pacific Ocean. Full canal transits are scheduled for daylight hours. Don't miss a minute of the fascinating feat of lifting giant cruise vessels aided by on-shore locomotives (called mules) through first three great locks. Sail across Lake Gatun, through narrow man-made channels carved through rock, dense jungle and exit a second set of locks into the Pacific Ocean. (Cruises also transit the Panama Canal from the Pacific Ocean side to the Caribbean.)
  • Best Time: October to April when the weather is not as sweltering.

   

(29) Cruising Western Europe & the Baltic

Like the Caribbean and the Mediterranean, Europe is divided into diverse cruise regions. Northern Europe offers the Norwegian Fjords and medieval cities of the Baltic Sea like Oslo, Stockholm, Copenhagen and not-to-be- missed St. Petersburg, Russia. In Western Europe, there are cruise routes such as along Dutch, United Kingdom, France and Portugal coastlines. And other cruises travel along the coast of England, Wales, Ireland Scotland and as far west as Reykjavik, Iceland.

  • Best Bets: Since the advent of the Euro, travel to most of Europe is much more expensive. Cruising Europe offers travel saving when you pay for your cruise in American dollars rather than the more expensive Euro.
  • Best Time: May to September when the weather is generally dry and temperatures range from moderate to warm.

   

(28) Cruising the Magical Med

The romance and beauty of the Mediterranean and its rich history as the Cradle of Civilization make it a favorite cruise destination for novice and seasoned cruisers. Cruise the beautiful Aegean and Adriatic Seas in the eastern Med and soak up the beauty and history of ports like Venice, Istanbul, Athens and popular Greek Isles of Mykonos, Rhodes and Santorini. Cruise the western Med for ports along the west coast of Italy like Livorno (Florence), Civitavecchia (Rome) and Naples. Other favorite western Med ports are the beaches of the glamorous Monte Carlo, Canne and Nice Rivieras and Spanish coast ports of Barcelona, Valencia, Malaga and Majorca and Lisbon, Portugal.

  • Best Bet: Make the most of the time and book a cruise that includes both the eastern and western Med. Avoid jet lag in both directions by booking a transatlantic voyage paired with a Med cruise.
  • Best Time: Cruise between April through October.

   

(38) Cruising the United States West Coast and Mexican Riviera

Cruising the United States West Coast and Mexican Riviera Cruises along the Pacific Northwest coast of the United States are typically repositioning cruises when cruise lines move their ships to or from Alaska. These cruises usually begin or end in Vancouver with ports of call along northwest California, Oregon and Washington coasts. Other west coast cruises originate in San Francisco, Los Angeles or San Diego with calls along the southern California and to ports like Cabo San Lucas, Puerto Vallarta, Mazatlan and Acapulco in Mexico.

  • Best Bets: Parasail over Los Arcos in Cabo San Lucas. View the Papantla Flyers in Mazatlan and breathtaking cliff divers in Acapulco.
  • Best Time: Cruise the Pacific Northwest in May or October. Cruise the Mexican Riviera between November and March.

   

(27) Cruising Alaska

Most cruises to Alaska depart from Vancouver, Canada or Seattle, WA and sail the Inside Passage route to ports such as: Juneau, Skagway and Ketchikan. Cruising Alaska treats travelers to some of Mother Nature's finest gifts. There are majestic mountains, calving glaciers and icebergs. There are magnificent whales breaching the icy waters, eagles soaring overhead and black bears roaming the shoreline. Nights are short and days are a constant scenic showcase. Don't forget binoculars!

  • Best Bets: Splurge on a private balcony cabin or opt for a small ship cruise so you won't miss any of action. Book a cruise tour that includes travel by railway through Denali Park.
  • Best Time: Alaska cruises operate from mid-May to late September. Look for best cruise discounts early and late in the season.

   
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Linda Handiak