Currently, Mediterranean ports (particularly Spain’s buzzy Barcelona and Venice’s Grand Canal) are hot cruise destinations, as are the curly coastline of Croatia, the gorgeous Greek islands, and tantalizing Turkey, from exotic Istanbul to the ancient ruins of Ephesus.
Just as hot for ocean cruising are the sun-bathed Caribbean islands and anywhere around the South American coastline, with a detour to take in the unusual wildlife of the Galapagos Islands off Ecuador.
Further afield, it is Asia’s sophisticated Japan that is really sizzling right now in the lead-up to the Olympics which will be held there next year (2020).
Away from hot, as in climate, cruise ports that are decidedly cold yet really popular with cruise passengers, are Nordic ports for the Midnight Sun and the Northern Lights phenomena.
Also attracting increasing numbers of cruise ships to freezing waters are the Arctic and the Antarctic where passengers don’t actually disembark at ports but climb into rubber zodiacs to savor the wildlife and soaring icebergs.
Alaskan cruises are so popular now that cruise lines have had to send some of their largest ships—carrying as many as 4000-plus passengers—into the Inside Passage. Not surprisingly, the small ports are finding it difficult to handle these “giants of the sea” which disembark far more passengers than the tiny town’s permanent residents.
Cuba would have been right up there as a hot spot, but due to the US government’s recent changes, US citizens are no longer permitted to sail there. All cruise lines had ships sailing there, but they have promptly cut Cuba and its fascinating capital, Havana, from itineraries. An immediate winner is Florida’s Key West, a port where many cruise ships now go, and where passengers can gaze across to Cuba which lies roughly 90 miles south.