Image courtesy of Silversea Cruises Image by: Image courtesy of Silversea Cruises
European Riverboat Cruise
If you want a relaxed small (182-person) cruise that allows you to visit multiple European cities.
Image courtesy of Gillies Zaiser
Book Emerald Waterways' eight-day Jewels of the Rhine cruise from Amsterdam
to Basel, Switzerland.
Where: The voyage starts in Amsterdam, where you can get your fill of Van Gogh and Gouda cheese. Then, it's on to Cologne, Germany, and down through the Rhine Gorge to the wine-making town of RuÌˆdesheim, as well as historic Mannheim, the Black Forest and Basel.
Highlights: You get to customize your trip. If you want to shop, explore urban Europe and admire modern design, you'll be delighted by the ports of call in Cologne and Amsterdam, where you can visit the Anne Frank house. You can also visit Germany's largest cuckoo clock, enjoy lunch in a traditional family-run gasthaus in the middle of the Black Forest, tour the medieval town of Heidelberg by foot or nosh on cake and tea in the 2,000-year-old town of Koblenz. Disembark to visit the famous Pfalzgrafenstein Castle, built on an island in the middle of the Rhine, or stay on board for the day—the heated swimming pool and rooftop deck with bar service will be all yours.
If you want a smaller cruise holiday and the chance to see the real Cuba (before Americans start visiting in droves).
Image courtesy of Melissa Medeiros
Book the seven-day Cuba cruise aboard the Celestyal Crystal, which runs from December to April.
Where: This voyage circumnavigates Cuba, starting with two days to explore
historic Havana, followed by stops in Maria la Gorda, UNESCO World Heritage Site Cienfuegos, Jamaica's Montego Bay, and Santiago de Cuba.
Highlights: Snorkelers and divers will love Maria la Gorda, a remote spot known for its huge coral reefs. (It's also popular with bird-watchers.) One of the best onshore excursions is offered in Cienfuegos, where passengers can visit the village of Trinidad, with its colonial buildings and cobblestone streets. Back on board, the Celestyal Crystal accommodates 1,200 passengers in its 480 staterooms. Expect lots of Cuban music, ubiquitous rum and dancing. And the food? Indulge in Canadian beef (excellent steak), local fish and lobster and a smattering of Jamaican dishes.
Vancouver to Alaska
If you want a northern cruise from Vancouver to Alaska that offers a taste of aboriginal culture and views of fiords, glaciers and snow-capped mountains.
Image courtesy of Royal Carribean
Book Royal Caribbean's seven-night northbound Alaska and Hubbard Glacier cruise on the Radiance of the Seas.
Where: Upon departing Vancouver, the Radiance of the Seas (which can accommodate more than 2,100 passengers) navigates the picturesque Inside Passage along the coast of British Columbia, all the way up to Alaska. Ports of call include Ketchikan (the gateway to Misty Fiords National Monument wilderness area) and Skagway, followed by a visit to Hubbard Glacier. You can opt for a return passage or a flight back to Vancouver.
Highlights: With natural beauty—in the form of mountains, whales and coastal
rainforests—everywhere, this cruise is an Instagrammer's dream. But you'll want to close your eyes for another unforgettable experience: the first time you hear “white thunder,” the sound of huge chunks of ice crashing into the water at Hubbard Glacier. Passengers also rave about the Day 4 port of call in Icy Strait Point, where the local Huna Tlingit tribe welcomes visitors to Chichagof Island. Other onshore excursions run the gamut from dogsledding to lumberjack shows and rainforest hiking. (Bring your passport on all onshore excursions that take you onto American soil.)
Standard Caribbean Option
If you want an amenity-packed big-ship holiday that appeals to family and intergenerational travellers.
Photography by Brent Barnes/Getty Images
Book Princess Cruises' seven-night Western Caribbean round-trip from Fort
Lauderdale, Fla., on the Royal Princess.
Where: Beginning and ending in Fort Lauderdale, the voyage takes passengers to Princess Cays, Bahamas; Falmouth, Jamaica; the Cayman Islands; and Cozumel, Mexico.
Highlights: Christened by Catherine, the Duchess of Cambridge, in 2013, this large ship (with a 3,560 passenger capacity) has everything a vacationer could ask for: a wine cellar, an oyster bar, a fine Italian restaurant, 24-hour room service, a jogging track, a spa, a theatre, a TV studio, a nightclub, a wedding chapel and an art gallery. Child-friendly options include movie nights by the pool, a sprawling entertainment complex and separate kids' and teens' centres. Onshore excursions—exploring the Mayan ruins near Cozumel, rafting on the Martha Brae River in Falmouth and snorkeling in the coral reefs at Princess Cruises' exclusive port of call on the island of Eleuthera, called Princess Cays—will keep you busy.
If you want luxe amenities, pampering and round-the-clock indulgences—
including a personalized butler service—for a special anniversary or a high-end getaway with your girlfriends.
Photography by Andrew Rowat/Getty Images
Book Silversea Cruises' seven-night Caribbean and Central American cruise on the Silver Spirit.
Where: Embarking at Bridgetown, Barbados, the Silver Spirit (which has 376 crew members for 540 guests) stops in Roseau, Dominica; Gustavia, Saint Barthélemy; Turks and Caicos; and Florida's Key West and Fort Lauderdale.
Highlights: Silversea, an Italian family-owned company, woos passengers with a fleet of refined, intimate vessels. Most ocean-view suites are decked out with terraces, and marble-tiled bathrooms are stocked with Bulgari and Ferragamo toiletries, as well as a formidable supply of Champagne. Perhaps most thrillingly, each passenger is assigned a personal butler upon check-in. Among the ports of call is Dominica, a fantasia known as Nature Island, which beguiles as much with what it has (waterfalls, oceanic rainforests, mountains, coral gardens) as with what it doesn't (sprawling resorts and crowds of tourists). Sign up for the Accessible Dominica and Rainforest Drive excursion to visit Morne Bruce lookout, enjoy the botanical gardens and finish with a refreshment at Hibiscus Falls. In Saint Barthélemy, where the ship moors in Port de Gustavia, wildlife spotting is replaced with people-watching. The capital is packed with good-looking French families wandering the café- and boutique-lined ruelles. — Olivia Stren
Check out these seven ways to stay healthy aboard a cruise.
This story was originally part of "Fantastic Voyage" in the April 2016 issue. Subscribe to Canadian Living today and never miss an issue!