The Year's Quirkiest Cruise Destinations

When planning cruises, it’s easy to get stuck in the “ean” mentality: the Caribbean and Mediterranean. While there are some beautiful destinations on both of those well-traveled seas, there are other destinations more off the beaten path — destinations that may not be mentioned as often as the Bahamas or Barcelona but are quietly becoming popular in their own right. So get your Magellan on and venture to these unusual or slightly quirky places you may not have cruised before.



An artist’s rendering of Harvest Caye in Belize (Photo: Norwegian Cruise Line)

With Cozumel, Mexico, an enduringly popular cruise stop, Norwegian Cruise Line is doubling down on Belize, opening a brand-new private port called “Harvest Caye” this fall. There, passengers will be able to take advantage of the private space, or venture out into Southern Belize. ”You can go for a day and experience the facilities that are there [at the port] — the pool, the craft markets, the culture,” says Norwegian’s Vanessa Picariello, “or you can experience it as as a port to take a shore excursion to Belize” — where you can tour the Mayan ruins or swim with the sharks and rays. “It’s going to be the best of both worlds,” says Picariello.



Shanghai, China: The next home port for Royal Caribbean’s most hyped ship. (Photo: Thinkstock)

When Royal Caribbean announced last year that its superhyped new supership, Quantum of the Seas, would sail out of Shanghai starting this spring, it made a huge statement: Asia is the new hotspot in the cruising world.
“The growth in Asia Pacific, and China specifically, is the most exciting thing that’s happening on the edges of the business,” Royal Caribbean President and COO Adam Goldstein tells Yahoo Travel. “It’s the fastest growth rate in cruising.” Royal Caribbean has two other ships in the region, Voyager of the Seas and Mariner of the Seas, which travel to Japan, Singapore, Vietnam, Hong Kong, and South Korea.

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The Seabourn Quest in Antarctica (Photo: Seabourn)

If your mission in life is to visit all seven continents, Antarctica often is the hardest to cross off your list. Fortunately, cruising there is an option. Holland America has a 21-day journey out of Valparaiso, Chile, that goes down along the Chilean coast, through the Strait of Magellan and up the Argentinian coast, with a couple of stops in Antarctica along the way. Luxury cruise line Seabourn also has an Antarctica itinerary — complete with penguin sightings and exploratory excursions — which Seabourn says makes it the only luxury cruise line to go to Antarctica on its own ship (it says the other guys use less luxurious explorer ships).

Related: Fun Theme Cruises We’re Looking Forward to in 2015



No, these cruise ships aren’t being attacked as an invading force. This is the view from Fort George on St. George’s, Grenada. (Photo: Thinkstock)

“Everybody goes to Cozumel, everybody goes to St. Thomas,” says Carnival Cruise Line’s Jennifer DeLaCruz about the standard Caribbean cruise stops that seem common to just about every ship in the region. That’s why Grenada stands out as a slightly less common Caribbean destination — as Carnival, MSC, Royal Caribbean, and tons of other cruise lines that have added the destination can tell you. Beach activities, nature hikes, and scuba diving are some of the activities offered at this island nation, which many Caribbean cruisers may not find familiar. “These itineraries that take people to ports they’ve never been to before that are smaller, more intimate… We’re finding really good success with these,” DeLaCruz says.

The Northwest Passage


The Crystal Serenity is making an icy journey through the Northwest Passage. (Photo: Crystal)

Yes, the Northwest Passage used to be a trade route, but there’s no reason it shouldn’t be a luxury voyage. Such was the thinking of Crystal Cruises, which is offering the 32-day Arctic voyage leaving from Anchorage. “When we complete sailing, we will be in the Guinness Book of World Records as the largest cruise ship to traverse the Northwest Passage,” says Crystal President and COO Edie Rodriguez. Guests will be treated to once-in-a-lifetime views of fjords, glaciers, and rare wildlife. The August journey is sold out (“We currently have over 700 people on a wait list,” Rodriguez says). But this is a trip worth waiting for in 2017.



The Viceroy Suite aboard the Ganges Voyager II (Photo: Uniworld)

The answer to “Where did you go on your cruise” rarely is “India,” but that may change next year. Uniworld is introducing an India river cruise — what it calls its “India’s Golden Triangle & the Sacred Ganges” itinerary — from New Delhi to Kolkata in January of 2016. The 12-night cruise, aboard the 56-passenger Ganges Voyager II, travels along the famous Ganges and includes tours of must-see spots including the Taj Mahal. “You might see freshwater dolphins,” says Uniworld’s Maria Ellen Grimardi of the river trip, where she says you can get a unique cruising experience: “You can go into small towns that you can’t get to on a big cruise ship — you can have true, authentic experiences.”

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