Memorable Cruise Vacations | Best Cruises | Frequent Traveller

Most Memorable Cruise Vacations

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Cruising was my first overseas travel experience and though that is over 40 years ago, I still remember the excitement and wonder as we silently passed lush green slopes of the islands that towered above us. It was my first glimpse into another culture and one of my most memorable cruise vacations, it sparked a love of travel that remains to this day.

Memorable Cruise Vacations

Mediterranean and Northern Europe – MSC Cruises

Since those early days we have been on many cruises, our most recent being with the MSC Cruise Line. We have had the pleasure of doing two cruises with MSC, the Mediterranean and Northern Europe.

Our most memorable cruise vacation moments from our Mediterranean Cruise were sailing out of Venice and watching the sun set over the magnificence of Piazza San Marco and exploring the lanes ways, charming boutiques and shops of Oia on Santorini. I remember looking out over the view, our ship a small speck on the deep blue water below.

Northern Europe Cruise delights include exploring the alleyways of the Medina in Tangiers Morocco, soaking up the history at Dover Castle in England and dining at one of the many restaurants amid the colourful buildings on the Nyhavn waterfront during our cruise from Copenhagen.

Copenhagen

Taking a cruise is one of the most relaxing vacations you can choose. When onboard you only have to unpack once unlike other vacations where you are living out of a suitcase. There is a large range of entertainment, from Captains Cocktail Party, Gala and theme nights, dancing, dining and a choice of shore excursions that will suit every age group. Cruise vacations are FUN!



What I like about MSC Cruises?

There are so many things I like about MSC Cruises, but I have to start at the beginning, their website! MSC Cruises website is so easy to navigate, you know exactly what you are getting, unlike other cruise line websites where the cabin options become confusing and overwhelming, MSC Cruises are so easy to book online.

Choice of destination and shore excursions. MSC Cruises have a choice of worldwide destinations including Asia, Mediterranean, Northern Europe, Caribbean, South America, South Africa and the Middle East.

What to Wear

My first thought after getting over the excitement of booking my cruise is “What am I going to wear?” Being on the curvy side finding the right cruise wear can be a challenge, to make cruise wear shopping easier, I’ve put together a wish list of plus size cruise wear that flatter and accentuate our curves. I hope you find it helpful.

A World of Memorable Cruises

We have asked fellow travel bloggers to recommend their most memorable cruise vacations. This list explores a range cruise styles that include majestic cruise ships, river boats, ferries, schooners and traditional Turkish gulet. Along the way you will discover some the most fascinating destinations in the world. This list of cruise lines and destinations has inspired us, they are full of fun (and a Wedding), we hope you enjoy them as much as we did.

Alaska Cruise – Holland America Line

Recommended by  Kate, Travel For Difference

Alaska Cruise

Cruising through Alaska was an experience of a lifetime; gliding along the calm waters of Alaska’s inlets whilst watching a variety of whale species from the comfort of our private balcony… It was incredible, to say the least!

But the most memorable part of this 1 week trip with Holland America Line, was the cruise through Alaska’s Glacier Bay National Park. For this part of the journey, 2 Park Rangers came on board to teach us about the amazing surroundings of this incredible bay. We learnt about the drastic decrease in glacier sizes, as well as the dramatic rise in sea level over recent years.

We cruised for hours on end, stopping only a few hundred metres away from many of the world’s most magnificent glaciers. Huge chunks of ice were crashing to the ocean’s surface due to the change in climate, whilst wildlife continually swam around the boat at every turn.

It was a magical day, and one that can only be experienced by cruise. No place on earth has shown me both the beauty and the heartbreak of nature like this… It was a day I’ll never forget!

Papua New Guinea – P&O Cruises Australia

Recommended by Dawn, 5 Lost Together

Papua New Guinea

When I found out P&O Cruises had itineraries that visited Papua New Guinea, I was completely hooked.  Departing from Australia, these cruises visit remote islands untouched by modern life and right out of anthropology textbooks.  The highlight for me was visiting these tribal villages and learning more about their traditional way of life.

Since so few ships visit, most of the islanders come out to greet the cruise ship.  There are unofficial guides to show you the villages, people selling intricate woodcarvings and school children in traditional attire singing.  We have traveled to many remote parts of the world, but nowhere have we experienced a place with so little outside contact.

The other highlight of our cruise to Papua New Guinea was the opportunity to experience the pristine underwater world.  The coral was some of the healthiest we have seen with incredibly diverse marine life.  Snorkeling just off the beaches, we were able to experience some of the healthiest and richest marine biodiversity in the world.

Cruising to Papua New Guinea was a surreal experience and an opportunity to visit a country I never thought I would get to visit.

Trans Atlantic Cruise – Cunard, Queen Mary 2

Recommended by Jessica & Laurence, Independent Travel Cats 

Captain's table Queen Mary 2

Cunard’s Queen Mary 2 is currently the world’s only ocean liner and the only ship that still offers regular transatlantic crossing. My husband Laurence and I booked a transatlantic cruise in 2015 (and again in 2017). We sailed from NYC to Southampton, England on an 8 night cruise with no port stops. The public areas on the Queen Mary 2 are large and even with 2,500 passengers it still felt spacious to us which is very important on a transatlantic cruise!

The decor, service, and atmosphere evokes the Golden Age of Travel. You can easily feel like you stepped back in time on board as you walk along the Promenade Deck, enjoy the daily afternoon tea service, dance in the Queen’s Room, browse the large library, or attend one of the evening galas or performances.

My favorite experiences was actually getting married on the Queen Mary 2 ship by the ship’s captain! Some of the other highlights were the daily expert lecture series, the planetarium films, getting to know other passengers, and the food (the specialty restaurants are amazing!). We also just enjoyed reading, playing board games, and looking out at the endless ocean. It is not a good fit for everyone (e.g., it has one of the most formal dress codes with a jacket required even on informal nights), but we loved it and have actually now done two transatlantic crossings. This cruise is all about the journey!

A Taste of the Arctic: Northbound – Hurtigruten Ferry Company

Recommended by Erin, Downbubble

Hurtigruten

Our most memorable cruise vacation was the Hurtigruten A Taste of The Arctic: Northbound trip along Norway’s jagged coastline and through it’s many fjords from Bergen to Tromsø. We took this cruise as the most scenic option to get into our desired destination Tromsø, a town above the arctic circle in Norway’s north.

It is touted as one of the most consistent places in which to catch the Northern Lights. As it turned out we saw the lights twice from the cruise! Once being a particularly dazzling midnight display. The ship’s staff are always on aurora watch and you can opt to leave a speaker on in your room for updates through the night for when these ethereal beauties appear.

This cruise was also memorable however for its daytime scenery. There really is nothing else like the serene, wild beauty of the fjords and the many coastal towns dotted along them, some of which are not even accessible by road! This however is “cruising lite”; it’s a smaller ship run by Norway’s national ferry company Hurtigruten.

A percentage of the passengers are locals travelling on domestic errands. There is only one restaurant onboard plus one bar and one cafe. There is some provided entertainment but the emphasis of the cruise is on the scenery outside the windows, making port and the genuine experiences offered on the excursions.

Sailing to Turkey and Greece – Med Sea Yachts, ES Canada

Recommended by Natasha & Cameron, The World Pursuit

Cameron Diving

For those that want to venture away from the traditional cruise vacation, I urge you to set sail on a traditional Turkish gulet! We recently went aboard the ES Canada with Med Sea Yachts and sailed around Turkey and Greece. This Mediterranean vacation was one of the most memorable of our lives ad completely intimate.

I’m sure you’re wondering what a gulet is. A gulet is a two or three-masted wooden ship traditionally coming from the southwestern coast of Turkey. The gulet is a purpose-built ship for ferrying passengers along the stunning Turkish coast. So any trip on one of these gulets is perfect for small groups and couples. The typically can only handle 16-20 people max.

We took one out for seven days and sailed around Marmaris, Rhodes, and many other small islands. It’s a once in a lifetime experience in the crystal clear blue waters of the Mediterranean.

Royal Caribbean, Harmony of the Seas

Recommended by Becci, Tattling Tourist

Harmony of the Seas

Harmony of the Seas, the largest ship at sea, is a destination in itself! This Royal Caribbean ship is so big that you won’t notice the almost 5,500 other passengers. It has seven “neighborhoods” including a Boardwalk with a carousel. The ship boasts the tallest slide at sea, the Ultimate Abyss, which is 10 stories high. There are 16 restaurants, including Starbucks and Wonderland restaurant. This restaurant is a fun dining experience with an “Alice in Wonderland” vibe with surprises as soon as you begin to order your food!

There’s so much to do on Harmony of the Seas that you will never be bored, or want to get off the ship. Enjoy a Broadway show, zipline, surf, ice skate, solve the “Escape the Rubicon” interactive puzzle, rock climb, golf, swim, or have a drink made by a robot at the Bionic Bar! Characters from the DreamWorks movies, such as Madagascar, Shrek, and Trolls, are on-board for photo opportunities. One of the “can’t miss” shows involves presenters walking a tight rope high above the crowd or taking the high dive in the Aquatheater. This, and SO much more, all aboard the best destination ship on the ocean, Harmony of the Seas!

Russian River Cruise – Viking Cruises

Recommended by Margherita, The Crowded Planet

Russian river cruise viking

Last September we went on a spectacular two weeks river cruise across Russia with Viking Cruises. Visiting Russia was a life dream both for myself and my husband, and doing so on a river cruise really made our experience special. We had guided tours every day, as well as time to explore independently if we so wished, and during the time spent sailing we had the opportunity to join Russian language and culture lectures, cooking demonstrations and even a vodka tasting!

We started out with three days in Moscow – the ship was our base, but we spent all our time wandering around the city, visiting the main sights as well as some unusual ones, like the Cosmonaut museum. Then, we spent one week sailing to St. Petersburg, stopping off in little-visited locations like Yaroslavl, Uglich and the Kirillo-Belozersky monastery. We ended with three spectacular days in St. Petersburg, where my husband had the chance to visit the city where his maternal family comes from. All in all, it was an amazing experience!

Sailing to Raja Ampat – Mutiara Laut

Recommended by Tom, Travel Tom Tom

Sailing to Raja Ampat

Last year a dream came true when I got invited for a sailing trip to Raja Ampat with Mutiara Laut. This 42-meter long schooner is one of the most luxurious cruise ships in South East Asia and the longest of its kind that can actually sail. On board there are only 8 cabins and space for a maximum of 18 guests.

I have traveled the world now for more than 6 years continuously and of all my adventures this trip stands out the most. Raja Ampat had always been a dream destination as it is such an unspoiled region to explore. During our 7 days sailing we hardly saw any signs of civilisation, but we did see the most incredible deserted islands, beautiful landscapes and the best marine life I had ever witnessed.

Scuba diving in Raja Ampat is out of this world! Being disconnected from the rest of the world was an amazing feeling and being pampered by the 22 staff members with delicious food, massages and anything else I could wish for was a real treat. On top of that I hiked to the top of deserted islands, got up close and personal with sea gypsea’s, went wake boarding, fishing, snorkeling and many more fabulous adventures.



Japan – Holland America Line

Recommended by Laurence, Finding the Universe

Holland America MS Amsterdam

We joined the Holland America 80 day Grand Asia and Pacific World Voyage cruise for the segment around Japan, a country that Jess and I hadn’t visited together. We loved the cruise experience with Holland America – the food was fantastic, the crew were friendly and helpful, and there was plenty to do on board in between the shore excursions.

One of our favourite memories from the cruise was the evening Gala night which had a Kimono theme. Holland America often run “Gala” nights on their cruises, often with a theme related to the country or ports the ship is passing through.

Kimono night was was a fun opportunity to dress up in the traditional local Japanese attire, and Jess and I really enjoyed getting into it! We even dressed up early so we could wander around the photos and get some nice photos, and Jess took advantage of the on-board salon to get her hair done for the evening!

Bahamas – Disney Cruises

Recommended by Liz & Josh, Peanuts or Pretzels

Disney cruise line

Having been in numerous cruises in my life, there are few that stand out as being truly unique and memorable, with the exception of one, a Disney Cruise to the Bahamas over New Years.

Disney is known for high quality and attentive service, so the cruise experience is hands-down amazing; however, Disney is first and foremost an entertainment company.  So when it comes to entertainment on their cruise ships, it’s always top notch.  And for New Years they pulled out all the stops.

There were different parties all over the ship, each catering to different audiences (both families, kids and adults).  Food buffets were set up everywhere, servers were walking around the ship with free champagne on trays, people were dressed up in formal-wear, bands were playing — it was quite the experience.

But what I’ll truly remember most is at midnight, there was a ship-wide countdown.  I was at one of the upper deck parties to ring in the New Year, and imagine my surprise when at midnight the skies erupted with fireworks!  While they actually do have fireworks on every Disney Cruise (pretty awesome) — the New Years fireworks were spectacular!  Definitely a cruise to remember.

Atlantic Crossing –  Pullmantur Cruises

Recommended by Iris, Mind of a Hitchhiker

Atlantic Crossing

Once upon a time, a few Digital Nomads found a great cruise deal on the internet and decided to make an event out of it. The first edition of what is now the biannual phenomenon NomadCruise took place in November 2015. A friend notified me of the opportunity to hop on board from the Canary Islands and disembark in Brazil some twelve days later, and I took it.

On a ship of the company Pullmantur Cruises, almost 100 location independent entrepreneurs and about 150 adventurous travelers crossed the Atlantic Ocean for just $260. What made it so special was that almost none of us had taken a cruise before. As it was a repositioning cruise, the MS Sovereign only carried 500 passengers while having the capacity for 2850 people.

For more than a week we didn’t see land. As we were approaching the equator and escaping the northern hemisphere’s winter, people started to loosen up. The best experiences on board were made by the guests, from the semi-organized workshops to the spontaneous music sessions. My favorite memory is that of leaving the cabin for the night and sleeping on deck under the southern constellations with a bunch of new friends.

Star Clippers

Recommended by Wendy, World Wide Wendy

Zeilboot Flying clipper

When you think about cruising, you expect gigantic ships with thousands of passengers sailing across calm waters.

Cruising  with the Star Clipper is a totally different experience. It is a beautiful four-master ship with only 170 passengers. A journey with this majestic ship is an adventure.

We booked the Maya route at the time, but this trip does not exist anymore because the sea here is very turbulent. My husband experienced this the first morning, so he immediately missed breakfast.

The cabins are beautifully furnished. The mahogany paneling, copper railings and beautiful decorations make you feel immediately in times gone by when traveling was really reserved for the happy few.

Just after sunset the sails are hoisted. The masts are beautifully lit and the music of Conquest of Paradise sounds in the background. A magical moment!

The ship has a very nice bar, a small swimming pool and a cozy library where regular lectures are given. But of course it is most pleasant to sit outside on the teak deck. You can do that at the bar or in a lovely seat along the pool, but the best spot is in the nets along the bowsprit. With a bit of luck, the dolphins will jump under you.

The food on board is top quality. Breakfast and lunch are served in buffet style. In the evening you can eat à la carte. The dinner is with so-called ‘open-seating’. In the afternoon there is a buffet with sweet treats and from 23h there is a late night snack.

So if you are looking for an exclusive cruise experience, Star Clipper might be the right choice for you.

Maiden Grand Asia Voyage – Majestic Princess

Recommended by Lyn & Steve, A Hole I My Shoe

Majestic Princess Cruise

Our most memorable cruise was onboard the Majestic Princess Grand Asia maiden voyage from Singapore to Shanghai. Who doesn’t like to experience the firsts of a maiden voyage with everything being pristine and brand new?

We set sail in June for 21 amazing nights through Bangkok, Ho Chi Minh, Xiamen, Hong Kong, Keelung, Yokohama, Osaka and Incheon before arriving in Shanghai. Each port was a new stop for the ship being an inaugural voyage so our arrival was met with fanfare and festivities.

Despite early morning arrivals in port it was a local event with many people turned up to watch the ship dock. There was music from bands playing, dancing girls, balloons released and water sprayed from boats in the harbour. Our arrival amidst a lot of pomp and circumstance, marching bands and speeches from dignitaries made a real royal welcome.

But our departure from the ports was also impressive as the Captain sounded the ships’ horn to the tune of the theme from Love Boat and it was so memorable to be part of the ship’s history in her inaugural voyage.

Antarctica –  Lindblad Expeditions

Recommended by Matilda, The Travel Sisters

Antarctica

My Lindblad Expeditions/National Geographic cruise to Antarctica was definitely my most memorable cruise.  Even though there was much joking onboard how this was not a cruise but an expedition, the entire experience was awesome whether it really was a cruise or expedition.

It took two days of crossing the notorious Drake Passage (fortunately not too bad during this trip) to reach our destination.  Antarctica was beautiful, stunning, breathtaking and magnificent beyond what any words can describe.  Our days were spent taking in the landscape full of icebergs and glaciers and enjoying the wildlife.  We made at least one or two landings a day by Zodiac boats for close encounters and even had the opportunity for a polar plunge.

Even though it was all memorable, the trip highlight for me was the iconic penguin.  There were so many penguins but I never grew tired of them or took their presence for granted.  I was just absolutely delighted.  Since penguins do not have any natural enemies on land they have no fear of humans and happily waddle over to you.  It felt like such an Antarctica moment to me and easily a most memorable trip.

Caribbean Cruise – Windstar Cruises

Recommended by Hannah & Adam, Getting Stamped

WIndstar Caribbean

We’ve been on our fair share of cruises over the past few years but our favorite cruise was with Windstar Cruises on their Classic Caribbean cruise. It’s actually luxury yachting with only 300 passengers. We love the Caribbean, we got married & took our honeymoon in Jamaica.

We want to explore every island possible and the best way to get a taste of the islands is on a cruise. Every day we would wake up on a new island to explore during the day and at night we’d sail off to our next destination. Since it’s not one of the huge cruise ships we visited islands most other cruise ships can’t due to size.

In our one week cruise, we started and ended in St Maarten and visited Barbuda, Dominica, St Kitts, St Lucia, Guadeloupe, and St Barts. Every island was so different and had different activities to offer. Since this cruise, we returned to St Lucia for a week and St Barts. We both can’t wait to cruise with Winstar again.

Cruising the Yangtze River

Recommended by Talek, Travels with Talek

Three Gorges Dam

The Yangtze River.  Just the thought of it conjures up images of timeless waterways flowing through centuries-old villages decorated with red lanterns.  I had wanted to see this mystical place since I visited the China pavilion at Epcot Center in Disney World as a child. And here I was, boarding the cruise ship at Yichang, about to make my dream a reality.   The three-day cruise was everything I thought it would be. The ship sailed upriver stopping at interesting towns where we boarded smaller vessels that could get closer to the villages. It was fascinating to peek into the lives of the local people and experience the natural beauty in the path of the mighty Yangtze River.

One of the most interesting sights was the Three Gorges Dam, the world’s largest at 687 feet high and one and one half miles wide. The ship went through the locks, an eight hour process. You actually feel and see the ship rising in an enclosed area then moving on to the next enclosure until it reaches the correct sea level.  What an amazing feat of engineering! On a par with the construction of the Great Wall of China.

On the last day the ship sailed into Chongqing, the largest concentration of humanity on earth with a population of over 30 million. An amazing experience I will never forget.

Cozumel Cruise – Royal Caribbean Cruises

Recommended by Scott & Hayley, International Hot Dish

Cozumel Cruise - Royal Caribbean Cruises

Going on your first cruise is always a trip to remember. You’ve no doubt heard stories from people who went on cruises and proposed to their partner, got sea sick, or polkaed all night. But our first cruise was with our extended family (20, or so, people), and boy oh boy was that a memorable ride. Our ports of call were in the Bahamas and the Cayman Islands before stopping in Cozumel, Mexico – and it seemed like we couldn’t get there fast enough.

All along the way there was drama, gambling, expensive full body massages, and more cocktails that you care to remember. The most memorable incident came about when we found out my cousin (pictured), who was staying in the cabin with us and another cousin, had been smoking cigarettes whilst he sat on the toilet. We confronted him about it but he he avoided the interrogation and wandered off.

In the end, though, we all came together as a family and enjoyed plenty of sun and laughs on the beach. If you’re planning a cruise with your family, just know it can be a stressful, but ultimately rewarding, experience.

Summary Most Memorable Cruise Vacations

As you can see, we have cruise ideas from the 4 corners of the Earth, they have inspired us and our travel wish list has just grown. I hope you have enjoyed this diverse range of cruise vacations, we love sharing our travel tips and would like to thank our fellow travel bloggers for sharing theirs.

Where are your favourite cruise vacations? What did you love most about your cruise?

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Best Cruise Vacations. Where to cruise and what cruise lines are best #cruising #cruisevacation
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7 thoughts on “Most Memorable Cruise Vacations”

  1. Rosalind Cuthbertson

    Thanks Hannah yes we also love cruising and this list has given us a few ideas for our next trip.

  2. What an excellent idea for a list, and I love the variety you have included! Some of these cruise experiences focus on incredible destinations, and some on the cruise facilities themselves. An awesome read!

  3. Thank you Erin we are glad you enjoyed the list as much as we enjoyed putting it together. We have included some of these ships and destinations on our bucket travel list.
    Alan

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