Seven Unbelievably Scenic Cruises

Before you go, we thought you'd like these...
Before you go close icon
scenic cruises

Holland America

Some of the earth's most picturesque scenery is best seen by sea. Cruise ships can often reach areas far off the beaten track, and offer a unique perspective on Mother Nature's grandeur. From the fjords of Norway to the isolated sounds of New Zealand, the view is incredible from the deck of a cruise ship.
Some of the earth's most picturesque scenery is best seen by sea. Cruise ships can often reach areas far off the beaten track, and offer a unique perspective on Mother Nature's grandeur. From the fjords of Norway to the isolated sounds of New Zealand, the view is incredible from the deck of a cruise ship.

If you're wondering which cruises offer stunning views, we've put together a sampling of some of the most breathtaking. Here are our picks for the top seven scenic cruises:


8 PHOTOS
Seven Unbelievably Scenic Cruises
See Gallery
Seven Unbelievably Scenic Cruises

Following in the tradition of 19-century tall ships, cruises in Maine are powered by the wind. Thirteen traditional sailing schooners make up the Maine Windjammer Association, and each vessel offers its own unique cruise experience. Cruises depart and end in Penobscot Bay, a protected body of water filled with hundreds of islands and surrounded by miles of rugged Maine coast. No cruise is the same, as destinations are based on weather and the captain's whim. Trips range from weekend getaways to week-long journeys, and cost around $160 per person per day.

No roads lead to Glacier Bay, so cruising is one of the best ways to see this rugged natural beauty up close. Cruise ships can glide through the fjords, providing a good view of ice walls, tidewater glaciers and snow-capped mountains. Glacier Bay has more active calving glaciers than anywhere else in the world and the sound is thunderous when ice splits off and plunges into the sea. This unique ecosystem is home to humpback whales, Pacific white-side dolphins, orcas, sea lions and more. Sure, it can be chilly in Alaska, but passengers can watch this splendor from a deck chair, warmed by a thick blanket and hot cup of chocolate.

The Norwegian fjords are a world of their own, with cascading waterfalls, majestic mountains, and clear, deep waters. Cruises here are quiet and unhurried, allowing guests to relish the natural beauty, regional wildlife and rural countryside of Norway. Ports range from the picturesque town of Bergen to the storybook hamlet of Flam (population 400). While there are beautiful views around every bend, some of the most dramatic scenery is found in the Geiranger Fjord and the Sognefjord, which stretches halfway to Sweden.

Antarctica covers almost one-tenth of the world's surface, yet only 30,000 tourists visit this remote continent each year. The best way to view this snow-covered wilderness is from the warmth and safety of a cruise ship. There are no actual ports in Antarctica, but highlights include Deception Island, Half Moon Island and the Lemaire Channel. Itineraries can change depending on conditions and safe passage. Smaller vessels carry inflatable landing craft so passengers can venture off the ship; larger cruise ships provide viewing from the deck. Most Antarctica cruises depart from South American ports.

Lush green islands, white sand beaches and crystal blue waters-the combination is magical in French Polynesia. Cruise ships often stop at ports like Tahiti, Bora Bora and Huahine, but one of the most scenic destinations is Moorea Island. Just 12 miles from Tahiti, this heart-shaped island is encircled by a lagoon of azure blue Polynesian sea, and has both white and black sand beaches. Craggy volcanic peaks covered in foliage and dotted with waterfalls rise up from the island's interior. Cruise passengers visiting the island can spend the day snorkeling, visiting pearl and vanilla farms, swimming with stingrays and scuba diving.

The Côte d'Azur, which stretches along the southeast corner of France, is known for its glamour, blue seas and gorgeous scenery. Mediterranean cruises visit key ports along the French Riviera, including Nice, Cannes and Monaco. A favorite stop is the small town of Villefranche, France. Set on a steep hillside overlooking the harbor, this picturesque village still retains its 14th-century feel. Top attractions include the Chapelle St-Pierre, with its paintings by artist Jean Cocteau, and the 16th-century Citadel, which today houses city hall and several museums.

Fiordland (as the Kiwis spell it) National Park is located in a remote section of New Zealand's South Island. This "Switzerland of the South Pacific" is known for its dramatic mountain peaks and abundant wildlife, and has been the backdrop of several movies, including the "Lord of the Rings." Cruising on Doubtful Sound is one of the best ways to experience the national park. The unspoiled wilderness of Doubtful Sound is home to bottlenose dolphins, fur seals and the rare Fiordland Crested Penguin. Each day, the Fiordland Navigator drops anchor, and allows guests to explore the inlets and coves by kayak. Day cruises are also available.

of
SEE ALL
BACK TO SLIDE
SHOW CAPTION +
HIDE CAPTION
Read Full Story

From Our Partners