8 Top Cruise Destinations for 2013

rainbow_hat_largeIn anticipation of my upcoming Alaskan cruise, I started searching for other top cruise destinations, and wrote this little piece…

Lounging on deck all day before pulling into port at some Conde Nast Traveler hot spot will conjure your inner Deborah Carr (or Carey Grant for that matter) in An Affair To Remember.  While slightly more expensive than the backpacking-and-hostel routine, cruises are an excellent way to travel in style without having to plan out every little detail about your trip.  Whether you’re in the mood to cover as much ground as possible while you sleep, or you enjoy the thought of endless amounts of gambling, pre-paid dining and testing out your sea legs, you’ll want to choose your cruise destination for 2013 wisely.

1. Caribbean

The Caribbean is an ideal cruise destination for 2013 if you’re looking to spend your days soaking up the sun on sandy white beaches and crisp blue waters with little to worry about beyond where to set your beach chair. Enjoy duty-free shopping in St. Thomas (score!), swimming with stingrays in Grand Cayman, and zip-lining in St. Lucia within one vacation. Sip chi-chis in the birthplace of rum and host a pirate party for your group by the pool (why not?).  The possibilities are endless in this tropical paradise.

2. Alaska

Cruising doesn’t have to mean hot weather, plenty of travelers want a unique experience in one of the most breathtakingly beautiful destinations.  The wildlife is fascinating, the air is crisp, and the terrain is rugged, what’s not to like? Sure, the weather is cold, but all the more reason for you to break out that big furry puffer coat you haven’t used since last winter.

3. Burma

Looking for something truly exotic? This lush Southeast Asian country is rich with temples and colonial architecture, and endless natural wonders.  This is one of the best cruises to take for extensive sight-seeing.  Burma is just starting to join the modern world and still retains much of its tradition and luxurious culture.

4. Australia

It’s smooth sailing when you’re cruising down under. Perhaps one of the most easy-breezy and scenic cruise destinations, the only thing warmer than Australia’s weather is the locals. Aussies are traditionally friendly and have an inviting demeanor towards tourists. Australia has so much to offer from exotic native animals like kangaroos and iguanas to some of the best diving locations in the world – hello, Great Barrier Reef.  Cruises to Australia usually have stops in New Zealand as well, which is more of a shopping port with fantastic landscapes, giving you the best of both worlds.

5. The Galapagos Islands

While only a handful of cruise lines are allowed to visit this stunning destination, the Galapagos is highly popular amongst travelers, especially for cruises.  The islands are known as the inspiration for Charles Darwin’s theory of evolution, with a rare diverse ecosystem that can be affected even by the tiniest changes. The cluster is so isolated in fact that many of its creatures –read: giant tortoises- cannot be found anywhere else on Earth.

6. Bermuda

With water temperatures hanging around 85 degrees, Bermuda beaches are in high demand, particularly for cruises.  While the North Atlantic Islands comprise only 21 miles, there’s so much to see and do.  It’s unique blend of relaxed island charm and modern convenience make it an ideal destination for honeymooners and families alike. Peak months to visit are June, July and August, when the islands have the most events going on.

7. Panama Canal

Panama Canal is easily one of the most popular destinations for 2013. It’s hard to imagine a cruise ship that will fit through the narrow locking system, but it does. With ports in Cabo San Lucas, Acapulco and Puerto Vallarta, it’s by far one of the most lively cruise destinations, plus seeing a cruise ship go through the locking system of the canal is an experience in and of itself.

8. Mediterranean

Could we have a ‘Top Cruise Destinations’ list without mentioning Europe… not likely.  No matter what section of the Mediterranean you visit, it’s overflowing with culture and history.  Renaissance treasures in Florence, the exotic bazaar of Istanbul, cosmopolitan Barcelona, breathtaking views in the Greek Isles – few regions can lay claim to so many must-see cities in one trip. But these cruises fill up quickly, so make sure to book in advance, at least one year out.

Whether you’re looking for a long cruise along the lively Mediterranean ports or a scenic tour up the coast of Alaska, there are several great destinations to choose from.  Have a favorite cruise spot you just have to share?

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