By Theresa Boehl
Imagining the possibilities for an upcoming cruise vacation never gets old. There’s nothing like the excitement, curiosity, and wonder that builds during the inspiration stage of planning your trip. And if you were issued a “Future Cruise Certificate” after your 2020 sailing was canceled, you’re probably especially eager to see how you can make the best use of your credit next year. With that in mind, we put together a list of top destinations for cruises in 2021 to help inspire your trip planning efforts.
A great tropical destination for cruisers looking for short-and-sweet getaways, the Bahamas is an archipelago located just 50 miles from the coast of Florida. Its proximity makes it easy to squeeze in a three- or four-night cruise that stops in Nassau, the country’s brightly colored capital, or Freeport on Grand Bahama Island, famous for golf, shopping, and of course, breathtaking beaches.
Plus, many Bahamas cruises sail to cruise line private islands, such as CocoCay, Great Stirrup Cay, or Princess Cays. These island escapes are set up specifically for cruisers, meaning staff, activities, and food and drinks are ready to be enjoyed as soon as you arrive. Make it as relaxing or exhilarating as you want.
The Caribbean is a hugely diverse region filled with islands of varying sizes, not to mention different cultures, landscapes, languages, and cuisines. The hardest part of shopping for 2021 cruises to this area will be deciding whether you want to embark on a Western Caribbean, Eastern Caribbean, or Southern Caribbean cruise.
If you’d like to enjoy world-famous snorkeling in Cozumel or Roatan or taste the rum cake the Cayman Islands are famous for, or even see ancient Mayan ruins in Costa Maya, a Western Caribbean cruise might be your best choice.
On the other hand, an Eastern Caribbean cruise to destinations like the U.S. Virgin Islands, Turks & Caicos, and the Dominican Republic can get you plenty of time on dreamy, white-sand beaches. And don’t overlook Southern Caribbean cruises, which can whisk you to off-the-beaten-path islands like St. Kitts, St. Lucia, Aruba, and Curaçao, each with its own unique flavor.
After spending so much time indoors, getting reconnected with the pure magic of nature is high on many travelers’ priority lists. A cruise to Alaska can get you up close and personal with some of the planet’s most awe-inspiring phenomena, such as massive calving glaciers, sprawling national forests, and maybe even the Northern Lights. And of course, you’ll spot bald eagles, killer whales, bears, and moose along the way.
Your days onshore will be spent exploring historic frontier towns like Skagway, with gold rush-era structures, and Ketchikan, famous for its rich Alaska Native culture and art. Many Alaska cruises also sail to Juneau, a paradise for those who enjoy outdoor recreation like biking, hiking, ziplining, and kayaking.
But the beauty of an Alaskan cruise is not just in exploring the ports of call. This is one of those vacations that’s just as much about the journey as the destination. You’ll enjoy marvelous panoramic views from a balcony stateroom or from the ship’s common areas.
There’s really no bad time of year to visit Hawaii, and with plenty of 2021 cruises to choose from, you can plan a cruise during any season that works for you.
Because of its remote location in the Pacific Ocean, Hawaii cruises usually start at seven nights long, and some last as long as 15 nights (not that we’re complaining!). You’ll have plenty of time to explore ports of call like Honolulu, home to world-famous Waikiki Beach, and Nawiliwili, a serene harbor on Kauai’s spectacular southeast coast. You’ll find ports in Maui and the Big Island gracing itineraries, too.
A Hawaii cruise is one of the easiest ways to split your time between the Aloha State’s diverse areas without the hassle of inter-island flights, rentals cars, and meticulous planning.
Canada and New England
It’s likely travelers will be staying put for most of this summer, which means they’ll miss out on destinations that really shine during the warm-weather season. But at least there’s next year, when you can plan to spend your summer vacation in delightful destinations like Bar Harbor, gateway to Maine’s Acadia National Park, and Halifax, a port city in Nova Scotia with a scenic waterfront downtown.
If you’ve ever wanted to savor the European feel of Montreal or Québec City, you can find sailings starting as early as May and as late as October. But be aware that since the season for Canada and New England cruises in 2021 is so short, sailings book up quickly. Best to plan far in advance!
Mexico never ceases to delight North American travelers who can’t get enough of its splendid beaches, its ancient ruins, and its world-renowned cuisine. Those who couldn’t get their fix of this fascinating country this year can look forward to a huge array of Mexico cruises in 2021 that hit up some of the most beloved spots.
Take a three- or four-night jaunt down to the rugged beach town of Ensenada, known for its mountain ranges and nearby winemaking region. Or head to Mexico’s palm-fringed Caribbean coast for some epic snorkeling and diving in Cozumel. Most seven-night cruises hit multiple hot spots in the Mexican Riviera, including Cabo San Lucas, Mazatlán, and Puerto Vallarta. You’ll find beautiful colonial sectors and amazing nightlife in all three of these destinations.
A trip to the Mediterranean usually doesn’t require much convincing. This is one destination that never loses its appeal, thanks to sunny weather, delicious food, and eye-catching architecture.
In 2021, you can look forward to sampling tapas and cava in Barcelona or seeing the fishmongers sell their goods in the scenic old port of Marseille. You can relish in the culture and history of Rome, Naples, and Florence or head to coastal paradises like Palma de Mallorca and Dubrovnik. You’ll be smitten by the distinctive blue hue of the Mediterranean Sea, which practically begs for a dip.
To check out these 2021 cruise destinations and more, visit CruisesOnly, America’s Largest Cruise Agency.