What are the most exciting ports and itineraries this year? We asked seven cruising experts from our A-List of travel agents for their picks.
Greenland & Iceland
Why Go Now: New luxury expeditions to these remote areas allow cruisers to take in scenery from the ship as well as jump in Zodiacs to explore further, says Claudia Gordon from Betty Maclean Travel. Her top sites: the lava fields of Iceland’s Vestmannæyjar islands and the open-air fish markets of Greenland’s Qaqortoq village.
The Cruise: Silversea’s 18-day Greenland & the Canadian Arctic sails from Reykjavík to Newfoundland, with ports of call at Skjoldungen Fjord, Qaqortoq, and Arsuk Brae, Greenland. $10,257.
Why Go Now: “Because of coastal road traffic, the Croatia and Montenegro coasts are actually most easily accessed by sea,” notes Ruth Turpin of Cruises Etc. Travel. “And they’re much less expensive than the Riviera, but with all the same beauty.”
The Cruise: Tauck’s 10-day Venice & the Dalmatian Coast, on the new Boreal, calls at Split, Korčula, Hvar, Dubrovnik, and Kotor, Montenegro. 800/788-7885; tauck.com; $5,690.
Why Go Now: The true heart of Russia can be found in authentic towns off the Volga River, according to Kathy Falkensammer from Prestige Travel & Cruises: “In Goritsy, you can attend a service at St. Cyril’s Monastery, while in Uglich, you can have a home-cooked meal with a local family. And of course, there’s vodka, vodka, vodka everywhere you go.”
The Cruise: Amawaterways’ Tolstoy plies the Volga on a 14-day cruise from Moscow to St. Petersburg. amawaterways.com; 800/626-0126; $2,999.
St. Lawrence River, Canada
Why Go Now: You don’t have to go to Alaska for a frontier experience, says Liz Sutton, president of Alabama World Travel: “Along the St. Lawrence River, you can visit a former fur-trading post, spot beluga whales, and explore the hamlets and cliffs that rise over the water.”
The Cruise: The 15-day Atlantic Coast itinerary from Holland America calls at Sept-Îles and Saguenay en route to Montreal. 888/722-0021; hollandamerica.com; $1,499.
Turquoise Coast, Turkey
Why Go Now: Cruise lines have been looking beyond standard Mediterranean ports to Turkey’s Aegean Coast, says Ann Halsey Smith of Gayle Gillies Travel: “Bodrum has a lot of charm; it’s like the south of France 20 years ago, but with masted gulets [traditional wooden boats] sailing the harbor.”
The Cruise: Seabourn’s seven-day Aegean Odyssey, from Istanbul to Athens, calls at Dikili, Kusadasi, and Bodrum, in Turkey, as well as Santorini and Milos, in Greece. 800/929-9391; seabourn.com; $2,999.
Why Go Now: “Travelers are drawn to the region’s exoticism,” says Lois Moran, a senior travel consultant for Betty Maclean Travel. “The covered market in Muscat, Oman, a centuries-old trading post, still sells frankincense and myrrh. In Dubai, the juxtaposition of enormous towers against the Arabian Sea is stunning.”
The Cruise Crystal’s 13-day Middle East Mystique includes stops at Muscat, Dubai, and Abu Dhabi. 888/722-0021; crystalcruises.com; $8,855.
Why Go Now: As tourism to the country increases, so do opportunities to see it by ship. Florida-based Betsy Patton of Betty Maclean Travel recommends new itineraries that give you a glimpse of big cities and the country’s rural life. “In Kochi, on the southern coast, you can explore quiet backwater towns filled with Portuguese architecture—a very different atmosphere from Mumbai.”
The Cruise: Regent Seven Seas has a 25-day itinerary from Dubai to Cape Town, docking at Mumbai, Goa, and Kochi before heading to the Seychelles. 877/505-5370; rssc.com; $16,780.