Cruising is one of the best ways to take in multiple destinations on a single trip, not to mention some killer ocean views. For those reasons and more, we look forward to Cruise Critic’s annual Cruisers’ Choice Destination Awards. Based on port ratings from avid cruisers and readers, Cruise Critic picks 15 destination winners each year.
Here are 10 of our favorite port destinations from the award list this year. Want more? Head over to Cruise Critic’s Cruisers’ Choice Destination Awards page for the full list of the best cruise destinations for 2017.
Best Cruise Destinations for 2017
Best Cruise in the U.S. & Canada: Quebec City
This winner is fitting for Canada’s 150th anniversary celebration: “Quebec City offers a savory taste of Europe right here in North America. Think of it as France without the attitude. Friendly locals convey that sense of romance and Old World charm found across the Atlantic, making Quebec City a wonderfully distinctive port of call on Canada/New England cruises.”
What Cruisers Say: “To my surprise; this is one of the most beautiful cities I have ever seen. Very walkable and the people are so friendly. We will go back.” –Cruise Critic Member louieandlorrie
Best Cruise European River Destination: Budapest
Hungary and Budapest are having a moment this year and a river cruise is one of the best ways to experience them both: “Budapest is also the world’s only capital city to boast more than 80 active thermal springs and wells; soaking in the warm, mineral-rich waters is an authentic experience. Szechenyi is the largest, with indoor and outdoor pools, and Gellert is famous for its opulent architecture. Many river cruise operators offer trips to the baths as an excursion option.”
What Cruisers Say: “We didn’t know what to expect from Budapest, and were pleasantly surprised. It was a very exotic, friendly, and fun city. We loved the food, the baths, and the sights.” –Cruise Critic Member Supcoop3
Best Cruise in the Eastern Mediterranean: Dubrovnik
If you’re at all into Game of Thrones, you’ll recognize this now-famous medieval port city. “Dubrovnik is a great walking city for lovers of culture and history, with centuries-old monasteries, churches, synagogues and even one of the oldest operating pharmacies in Europe. But, if you’re looking for a day of relaxation between busy tours in marquee cities, it’s also a gorgeous spot to simply sit and watch the world go by amid red-roofed stone buildings and the sparkling, aqua Adriatic Sea.”
What Cruisers Say: “Fabulous, and a real highlight of our vacation. Wonderful opportunities for sightseeing, walking the walls, buying souvenirs, and taking pictures of beautiful scenery. Should be on everyone’s bucket list.” –Cruise Critic Member LTC Dan
Best Cruise in the Western Mediterranean: Villefranche
Lesser-known Villefranche is quickly becoming a cruiser-favorite port in the Mediterranean: “Much more laid back than other—splashier—Cote d’Azur resort towns like Nice, Cannes and Monaco, Villefranche, whose old town dates back to the 14th century, evokes a romantic, historic feel. For those weary of sightseeing, it’s a terrific port for hanging out and relaxing.”
What Cruisers Say: “Lovely port. Easy to walk around or spend time on the beach. You can take the train to Nice or Monaco and the station is only 1/2 mile from the tender dock.” –Cruise Critic Member lostnemo
Best Cruise in the British Isles & Western Europe: Amsterdam
Amsterdam is a great port city because you can explore almost the entire capital via foot, plus new construction around the Passenger Terminal gives even more reason to rank this port as one of the best cruise destinations for 2017.
“The canal streets of the old city are protected by ordinance and will never change, but Amsterdam is expanding outward and architecture buffs will find both modern and historic neighborhoods to explore … Muziekgebouw aan het IJ, a concert hall for jazz and modern music, is adjacent to the terminal, and ongoing construction will bring many more amenities, including hotels. With so much to see and do, Amsterdam makes for a rewarding stay before or after cruising.”
What Cruisers Say: “Amsterdam is a classy and international port-city. It is a soulful European jewel, the Venice of the north!” –Cruise Critic Member acousticsolo
Best Cruise in Australia & New Zealand: Akaroa
Akaroa, New Zealand, is definitely best viewed by sea: “Sailing up the strait into the Port of Akaroa in New Zealand is a not-to-be-missed experience, with green towering hills topped with craggy rock from a long extinct volcano.
The port is also a great family destination: “Swimming with dolphins, sailing, fabulous nature walks, penguin encounters, motorbike tours and historical walks are just a few of the activities on offer. If you are not one for tours just enjoy the quaint village, as you can happily explore Akoroa in an hour or so. Once that’s done you are free to grab a coffee or glass of local wine, sit back and take in the picture-perfect vista of sparking harbor waters surrounded by green rolling hills.”
What Cruisers Say: “Totally loved this little town. Just walked around for hours. The scenery is so awesome that you don’t need to do anything.” –Cruise Critic Member pmennen
Best Cruise in Asia & South Pacific: Singapore
For its cleanliness and sophistication, Singapore takes the top spot as one of the best cruise destinations in Asia and the South Pacific: “Like Hong Kong, Singapore is a city with great cultural diversity, well-developed infrastructure and a very cosmopolitan feeling. Popular with cruise lines for day-long port calls, as well as embarkation, Singapore is easily navigable, with most tourist attractions concentrated in three areas: Orchard Road, the colonial district and Sentosa.”
What Cruisers Say: “Fabulous city—not to be missed! Be sure to see the Gardens by the Bay at night. The lights are spectacular.” –Cruise Critic Member putertutor
Best Cruise in the Eastern Caribbean, Bahamas & Bermuda: King’s Wharf
Bermuda’s King’s Wharf is the top pick among cruisers: “King’s Wharf is rich in naval history, with an endless array of activities for all ages, be it culture, water sports, good food, shopping or kicking back at the beach. In addition to galleries, craft markets and museums, you can include world-class golf courses, parasailing, scuba-diving and dolphin swims on the short list of things to do.”
What Cruisers Say: “One of our favorite places to visit. Something for everyone, and very easy to navigate on your own.” –Cruise Critic Member nodumblond
Best Cruise in the Mexican Riviera, Central & South America: Cabo San Lucas
While there’s no cruise pier, so you may have to plan your time offshore more carefully, Cabo San Lucas offers a variety of water activities: “Together with its more elegant and much quieter sister town of San Jose del Cabo, Cabo San Lucas is an ideal spot for adventure-oriented pursuits. If conditions are right, the clear waters make for great snorkeling, kayaking, stand-up paddleboarding, parasailing, sailing, and jet skiing. The Sea of Cortez is among the most biologically richest areas in the world, with pods of whales that winter offshore; if you’re here in season (late December through late March), a whale-watching trip is a must.”
What Cruisers Say: “Best port of call. Gorgeous scenery. Lively town. Not enough time there.” –Cruise Critic Member fastscot
Best Cruise in the Southern Caribbean: Curacao
Curacao edged out the other “ABC” islands this year for top Southern Caribbean port for its architecture, beaches, and shopping: “Willemstad, where cruise ships dock, is a vibrant and cosmopolitan city with waterfront shops and cafes. It’s walkable and always warm, but never stiflingly hot, thanks to constant, breezy trade winds. The city is split into two districts—one on each side of a narrow but deep channel, traversable by a landmark floating pedestrian bridge. Beyond Willemstad, Curacao is rife with opportunities to dive and swim, with more than 35 uncrowded beaches.”
What Cruisers Say: “The best port of the cruise. Close to shopping and the famous downtown area with its stunning Dutch colonial architecture.” –Cruise Critic Member mzliza3
More from SmarterTravel:
- The Worst Decisions You Can Make on a Cruise
- 8 Reasons You Should Go on a River Cruise
- 10 Scenic River Cruises Anyone Will Love
Editor’s Note: Cruise Critic is a member of the TripAdvisor Media Group, which also operates SmarterTravel. For 2017, the awards were based on port reviews from July 1, 2016, through June 30, 2017. A port must have a minimum number of member reviews in a category to be included in the top five list. Ratings shown have been rounded to the first decimal place.