Scenic views are the most valuable part of a cruise experience. And, as travelers seek more adventure opportunities, cruise lines are responding by charting itineraries to ever more beautiful and remote corners of the map.
The world’s most scenic cruises go from the gorgeous coastlines and red cliffs in northwestern Australia to the dramatic mountain peaks in New Zealand or the scenic wonders like Alaska’s Inside Passage and Nordic Fjords. On the world’s most scenic cruises, you will come into areas far off the beaten path, offering views that will please even the savviest traveler.
Here’s a list of our top five favorite scenic cruises.
Fjord Cruise in Norway
The Norwegian fjords offer infinite natural riches from glacier-fed waterfalls, majestic mountains to clear, deep waters. Cruising the fjords is peaceful and relaxed, where guests have the chance to admire the stunning landscapes, local wildlife, and rolling lowlands. The ports that are visited range from the charming town of Bergen, the scenic port of Stavanger, to the picturesque hamlet of Flam (population 400). The spectacular views just keep on coming and continue well past dinnertime as you cruise with the midnight sun.
Azure Blue Sea in French Polynesia
Crystal blue waters, lush green islands, and fine sand beaches — when you think about paradise, probably it looks a lot like French Polynesia. No wonder that cruise lines include this area in their itinerary proposals. Enjoying a cruise in French Polynesia means you may discover ports like Tahiti and Bora Bora. However, probably one of the most scenic stops is Moorea Island, at a stone throw from Tahiti. This island in the shape of a heart is surrounded by an azure blue lagoon of the Polynesian sea and features both white and black sand beaches. From the ship, you can admire the volcanic peaks that emerge above the greenest lush vegetation. Then put on your snorkels, enter the turquoise sea and get an underwater look at the beautiful corals full of colorful tropical fish.
Along the Snow-Capped Mountains of Antarctica
The best way to view this great “white continent” of the world -existing of spectacular glaciers, massive icebergs in white and blue and towering mountains- is aboard a luxurious (and warm) cruise ship that starts its course from Argentina’s most southern point. The limited number of visitors that reach this snow-covered wilderness are privy to an abundance of wildlife; you can spot orca and whales from the deck and observe penguins and elephant seals up close during your stops on the islands. Itineraries do vary by cruise line, but many cruises include in this magnificent trip a visit the Antarctic Peninsula.
The Glaciers of Alaska
Alaska’s Inside Passage delivers dramatic views as cruise ships travel its calm waters. Gliding through the fjords, you get a fantastic view of ice walls, glaciers, and snow-capped mountains. The highlight of any Alaskan cruise experience is visiting Glacier Bay. As no roads lead to this National Park, cruising is one of the best ways to see this rugged natural beauty up close. Glacier Bay is home to a bounty of calving glaciers; the impressive sight and sound of these immense glaciers thunderously splitting into the sea may linger in your memory. Keep your binoculars handy because in this unique ecosystem you may catch a glimpse of whales, dolphins, orca, sea lions and much more wildlife. Don’t worry about the cold, passengers can watch this grandeur from a deck chair, covered by a wool blanket.
Fiordland National Park in New Zealand
Fiordland National Park, located in a remote section of New Zealand’s South Island, is a real national gem. The park is known for its dramatic mountain peaks and abundant wildlife that is best experienced up close on a cruise ship. Here, steep cliffs rise out of the deep blue water, and fur seals sunbathe on rocks. Take a chair on the deck and look out for penguins and dolphins. You may have even the chance to see whales as occasionally they make it all the way into the fjords.
More places in the world offer spectacular backdrops for scenic cruise itineraries. If you love the foliage, then head in autumn to New England, here the fall colors can be spectacular. Seeing the colorful leaves that light up USA’s East coast from the sea is amazing. Also, you will be delighted to spot the humpback and minke whales at the beautiful rugged coastline.
Another itinerary that you may like to add to your list is the one to the Scottish Hebrides; the hundreds of sparsely populated islands with rocky cliffs are an astonishing beauty. You’ll be taken in by the views of sea stacks and pinnacles on the Trotternish peninsula of Skye, the volcanic peaks that dominates Eigg (one of the small islets), and of the whales and dolphins that are home to the island of Mull.