12 Unique Cruise Port Destinations We Can't Wait To Visit Again

Viking’s 2022-23 World Cruise will visit 58 ports, including Sydney, pictured above. (Photo via Viking)
Patrick Clarke
by Patrick Clarke
Last updated: 6:00 AM ET, Fri April 16, 2021

One-of-a-Kind Stops

Cruise lines are eyeing a return to the seas this summer more than one year since COVID-19 was officially declared a global pandemic and cruising was brought to a screeching halt. While passengers hoping to sail out of the United States will have to continue to be patient as the coronavirus vaccine rollout continues and governments around the world weigh the risk versus reward of reopening to international travel, they can find solace reminiscing about these remarkable cruise destinations.

Sydney, Australia

Australia continues to be closed to most international travelers amid the pandemic so it's been more than a year since many have been able to enjoy a scenic cruise into or out of Sydney Harbour. The destination is perhaps best known for its iconic landmarks such as the unmistakable Sydney Opera House but is also home to several unique islands boasting both cultural and historical significance.


It's easy to overlook the world's southernmost continent but it offers adventurous cruise passengers an array of unforgettable experiences, including up-close encounters with wildlife such as whales and penguins, unparalleled nighttime stargazing, thrilling Zodiac excursions and fascinating tours of research stations and other special sites and attractions like the uniquely shaped Deception Island.

Santorini, Greece

The Mediterranean hotspot of Santorini has literally got it all, including breathtaking views, picturesque beaches, charming villages, romantic sunsets and exceptional culinary offerings. While several cruise lines are slated to resume operations in Greece this spring and summer, the destination continues to be closed to Americans but officials are hoping the continued rollout of the COVID-19 vaccine spurs a tourism rebound in the months to come.

South Africa

Home to beloved cruise stops in places like Cape Town, Port Elizabeth and Richard's Bay, South Africa's spirited ports immerse cruise passengers in unparalleled nature, history and culture. Visitors can dine and shop until they drop, experience safari animals up close in wildlife sanctuaries and other animals like whales and dolphins in their natural habitat and even tour significant cultural sites like the former prison that housed Nelson Mandela.

Papua New Guinea

There's something extremely peaceful but also exciting about Papua New Guinea. The Oceanic destination just north of Australia features amazing landscapes highlighted by stellar beaches, lively coral reefs and magnificent marine life, some of the friendliest locals in the world and captivating culture. Carnival Cruise Line and Princess Cruises were among the most popular brands sailing to Papua New Guinea prior to the pandemic.

Halong Bay, Vietnam

A UNESCO World Heritage Site for nearly three decades, Vietnam's Halong Bay is an otherworldly travel destination renowned for its towering limestone isles and eye-popping emerald waters. Cruise passengers have long been flocking to this region for pulse-pounding excursions and participating in activities such as kayaking, rock climbing and diving.

Juneau, Alaska

Home to epic glaciers, ice caves, waterfalls and unrivaled scenery, Juneau is without a doubt one of the most coveted cruise ports in America and offers cruise passengers a variety of unique activities and experiences, from whale watching and an abundance of hiking opportunities to world-class shopping and dining downtown.

Panama Canal

The Panama Canal was named as one of the 7 Cruise Wonders of the World by Condé Nast Traveler and one of the 7 Wonders of the Modern World by the American Society of Civil Engineers. The famed waterway connects the Atlantic and Pacific Oceans through an intricate series of locks and passages. Princess Cruises has been sailing the canal since the late 1960s and continues to offer immersive itineraries to this bucket-list destination but travelers have options as Norwegian Cruise Line and others also offer exceptional sailings that traverse the Panama Canal.

Moorea, Tahiti

One of the more than 100 islands that comprise French Polynesia, Moorea is as majestic as cruise destinations come, offering visitors an authentic Tahitian experience, diverse coral reefs, white-sand beaches and plentiful lush scenery for hiking and exploration. The good news is that Tahiti is planning to reopen to international travel as soon as May 1.

Kotor, Montenegro

Kotor is easily one of the world's most underrated cruise ports but as one of the best-preserved medieval towns in all of the Mediterranean, it begs to be explored. Cruise passengers will want to take their time exploring the enchanting Old Town but also leave themselves room on their itinerary to hike Kotor's centuries-old fortifications so they can be rewarded with extraordinary views of the bay, mountains and historic structures.

Galapagos Islands

Expedition cruisers rarely return from the Galapagos Islands disappointed. After all, the UNESCO World Heritage Site is known for its diverse wildlife and nature and is limited to smaller ships and smaller group excursions that make for a more intimate experience. The islands offer much more than just wildlife watching though, including diving and snorkeling below the protected area's surface.

Aswan, Egypt

The Nile River destination of Aswan is one of the sunniest and driest places on the planet, making it easy to spend lots of time outdoors exploring the fascinating ancient temples and monuments or even enjoying a sunset felucca ride on the Nile. One of the best ways to experience this vibrant town is on Viking River Cruises' 12-day Pharaohs and Pyramids itinerary.

When cruising returns, travelers will be clamoring for these popular experiences.

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Helping leisure selling travel agents successfully manage their at-home business.

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Agent Specialization: Group Travel

Laurence Pinckney

Laurence Pinckney

CEO of Zenbiz Travel, LLC

About Me