PHOTO: Harvest Caye, Belize, Norwegian Cruise Line. (photo by Jason Leppert)
Once the doldrums of winter are finally behind us, thoughts of summer and where to cruise in 2017 quickly, mercifully take their place.
Cruise Lines International Association (CLIA) is ready with its list of five favorite destinations for the season, and I'll add my opinion into the mix as well.
“Cruising can take you to some of the most amazing destinations around the world,” said Cindy D’Aoust, president and CEO, CLIA, in a press release. “Cruise lines continue to expand itineraries to not only include time-honored favorites but to also introduce unique experiences in pockets of the world travelers have yet to discover, and this summer’s destinations are no different.”
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It’s no surprise that Cuba made the list. The once-forbidden fruit is now attainable thanks to more lenient travel to the Caribbean island nation for U.S. citizens.
More and more mainstream cruise lines are taking guests conveniently from and returning to the States, and itinerary schedules now extend into 2018.
As someone who has cruised to Havana, I can attest to the wonders that CLIA cites: Spanish-inspired architecture, museums, art galleries and vintage cars along with “the place untouched by time,” the Malecon. Fathom also took me to Cienfuegos and Santiago de Cuba—two other great ports on the island—and CLIA additionally mentions the likes of Trinidad as well.
READ MORE: My Cuban Journey: Havana Adventure
The Gorgeous Galapagos
While I have not personally visited the Galapagos, it is high on my list to visit for the reasons CLIA gives, particularly its incredible flora and fauna made famous by Charles Darwin.
Cruise travelers can immerse themselves, photographing and exploring along the way. Specific excursions also include the opportunities to take a catamaran ride, snorkel and hike.
More exotic destinations like the Arctic are now becoming accessible to cruisers seeking out a chillier summer experience amid polar wildlife like bears. Bird watching and kayak are among the activities along the Northwest Passage between the Pacific and Atlantic Oceans, and other points of interest encompass Pond Inlet above the Arctic Circle in Nunavut, Canada.
Of course, not to be forgotten is the more easily accessible Inside Passage of Alaska—another cruise favorite during the summer months. It may not be as exotic, but many of the sights are similar with less of the expedition to get there. Nonetheless, adventure travel options do abound there for adrenaline junkies as well.
Safari-style cruises to Africa range from urban Cape Town to game drives where one can witness leopards and elephants in their natural habitats. Beyond the savannah are Namibia's dunes or the Victoria & Alfred Waterfront.
Northern Africa is also starting to see a return to safer tourism as cruise lines begin planning Nile river cruising again.
READ MORE: Open the Door to Ryad Dyor in Marrakesh
A Diver’s Dream
Belize is not only a hotspot for Mayan ruins, beautiful beaches and wild jungles but also world-class diving thanks to famous underwater sites, reefs and cays. Even closer to the surface is great snorkeling, while shoreside mountain biking is available through the rainforests.
What’s more, Norwegian Cruise Line’s new Harvest Caye private destination is a perfect island gateway to all Belize has to offer on the mainland.