First Time Cruises – Best Cruise Itineraries for People Who’ve Never CruisedAll Inclusives, Budget Travel, Cruise, Featured, Featured Getaway, Getting There Deals — By Patty H on June 25, 2010 at 10:00 am
By Patty Hodapp
LG Deputy Editor
Think you know cruising? Gone are the days where ships were packed only with honeymooners and retirees. Now, thanks to the introduction of several new ships that were custom-built for adventure—and itineraries that take you way off the traditional charted course–cruises have again become one of the most popular ways for travelers of all stripes to see the world (and yes, that means you, too!) If you’ve sworn off cruises because you’re not into crowds, you’re afraid to get bored, or you simply don’t like to be directed around, it may be time to reconsider. These five ships we’ve featured here ply the waters to reach some of the world’s most remarkable destinations—and offering you top-tier service, dining and amenities along the way. The added bonus? You only have to unpack once.
The Ship: Wind Star (Windstar Cruises)
Designated a “motorized sailing yacht,” the Wind Star’s computerized white sails can unfurl in two minutes, creating the dazzling effect that the ship is being propelled through the blue Aegean on nothing more than a frisky sea breeze. After exploring the Acropolis, Parthenon and other historical sites of ancient Athens, passengers hopscotch to the islands of Mykonos, Santorini and Rhodes, taking in the whitewashed villages, stretches of black volcanic sand and harbors bobbing with tiny fishing boats. At the final destination—Istanbul, Turkey—passengers disembark into an exotic world of Byzantine palaces filled with frescos and mosaics, aromatic spices and minarets outlined against the setting sun.
Best Ship: MS Volendam (Holland America Line)
Departing from Sydney, this 18-day cruise up the Pacific coast line to Singapore calls at several Aussie, and Asian destinations making it the perfect itinerary for a traveler who’s in for the long haul. Pass through the 2000 Olympic site on your way to the Blue Mountains, catch a night show at the famous Sydney Opera House, and get up close and personal with Australia’s unique wildlife in the Sydney’s Hills District and Koala Park. Then move up the coast (stopping through several Aussie ports) to Komodo Island, Semarang, and Tanjung Priok, Indonesia, before wrapping up in Singapore. For anyone who has ever dreamed of traveling the Pacific, it boasts a port-full itinerary that will keep you plenty busy.
Best Ship: Costa Deliziosa (Costa Cruise Lines)
Dubbed the “new diamond of the fleet” the Costa Deliziosa is designed specifically for a unique sensory experience as you journey through Copenhagen, Denmark, Tallin, Estonia, St. Petersburg, Russia, and Helsinki, Finland. From the furniture to the extensive art collections, and from the grand spa to the master chefs, each detail on board is dedicated to enhance the northern European experience for cruisers. At your ports of call, visit the museums, the churches, the markets, and sip the tasty northern European beer. This itinerary is ideal for travelers looking to avoid typical tropical vacations and weave intellectual elements, as well as relaxation, in their plans.
Best Ship: Mariner Of The Seas (Royal Caribbean International)
Leaving from Los Angeles, California, the Mariner of the Seas calls at Cabo San Lucas, Mazatlan, and Puerto Vallarta, Mexico. Hike through the Sierra Madre wilderness, shop in Puerto Vallarta, sample the tequila and experience the tropical jungle in this vibrant culture that boasts world-class beaches, lush green rain forests, and vividly painted architecture. This seven-day trip is perfect for those who don’t want to travel too far away, but who want a change of pace, or for travelers in groups with different activity-desires. Offering a range of shopping, hiking, exploratory and beach activities, every traveler will no doubt be satisfied.
Best Ship: Jewel of the Seas (Royal Caribbean International)
While the warm, crystalline Caribbean water is a draw for many first-time cruise-goers, this itinerary boasts Central and South American ports of call many experienced travelers haven’t even checked off of their lists. As you anticipate your arrival in Cartagena, Colombia, Puerto Limon, Costa Rica and Colon, Panama, you can team up for one of the many on-board adventure activities this cruise line in famous for—including their renowned rock climbing wall—or just relax at the on-board swimming pool.
If you’re ready to book your Caribbean cruise vacation, or just want to learn more about cruises in general, connect with a travel agency well versed in that market (One to try: Liberty Travel). Besides cluing you into discounts you might not otherwise find on your own, the reps helping you to line up your trip can offer valuable real-world insights, such as the best time of year to chart the waters (hurricane season—uh, not so much) and the benefits of booking a repositioning cruise.
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