Skip to Content

Top 10 Must-See Cruise Destinations: Discover Where Everyone’s Cruising To in 2024!

Have you ever wondered where the most popular places to cruise are?

In this article, we look at where most cruise passengers choose to visit and find out what attracts them to these areas of the world.

CLIA cruise destination map
Image – Cruise Lines International Association (CLIA)

This information is based on statistics from CLIA (Cruise Lines International Association)

Who Are CLIA?

Cruise Lines International Association (CLIA) is the world’s largest cruise industry trade association with representation in North and South America, Europe, Asia and Australasia.
The CLIA community includes the world’s most prestigious ocean, river, and specialty cruise lines; a highly trained and certified travel agent community; and widespread industry stakeholders, including ports & destinations, ship development, suppliers, and business services.


95% of cruiselines are members of the trade body CLIA. (This includes both Ocean and River Cruiselines) They also have over fifty thousand Travel Agent members.

The Caribbean, Bahamas, and Bermuda: 44.2%

The most popular places to cruise by far are the Caribbean, Bahamas, and Bermuda regions, with around 44.2% of cruise passengers choosing to visit these destinations.

This is not surprising when you realise that the US has the largest global cruise market, based on revenue.

The Caribbean, Bahamas, and Bermuda are easy to reach from the USA, and, understandably, these destinations are also popular with travellers from both the US and further afield.

st maarten caribbean

Many cruise ships sail to these destinations from Florida, Texas, California or New York, making the journey to the port easily manageable for many American citizens.

Another reason these destinations are popular with American Citizens is some cruises are considered “Closed Loop” cruises – meaning that some citizens of the USA can travel without a passport.

Find out more about Closed Loop cruises below:

Do You Need A Passport To Cruise? (Everything You Need To Know)

Here are some reasons why this region is so popular:

  1. Stunning Beaches: The Caribbean has pristine white sandy beaches, crystal-clear turquoise waters, and coral reefs.
    • Bahamas, Jamaica, and the Virgin Islands offer some of the world’s best beach experiences.
  2. Culture: Every island in the Caribbean has its own unique culture, history, and traditions.
    • From street musicians and Salsa dancing in Cuba to the rich colonial history in Puerto Rico, there is something to interest everyone
  3. Water Sports: The warm waters of the Caribbean are perfect for a variety of water sports.
    • You can try snorkelling, scuba diving, sailing, and jet-skiing.
    • The region has some of the best diving sites in the world.
  4. A Year-Round Warm Climate: The consistent tropical climate makes the Caribbean a great all-year-round destination.
    • If you are travelling from a colder climate, the guarantee of some warm weather is very appealing.
    • The cheapest months to cruise to the Caribbean are May, September and October – be aware that this is because you may get more rain- and possibly even hurricanes.

I took a very cheap cruise to the Caribbean out of season. Find out how I got on here:

The Mediterranean: 18.5%

The Mediterranean is the second most popular cruise destination, attracting 18.5% of cruise passengers.

The Mediterranean is an easy-to-reach destination for those in the UK and Europe – large cruise ports can be found in Rome and Barcelona – and those cities are fascinating places to visit before or after your cruise.

This region offers historical sights, culture, and natural beauty, making it a favourite among cruisers.

Emma cruises Sagrada Família on a cruise to Barcelona
I visited the Famous Sagrada Família on a cruise to Barcelona

Some highlights Include:

  1. Historical Sights: The Mediterranean is home to some of the world’s most significant historical sites, from the ruins of ancient Rome and Greece to the medieval cities of Dubrovnik and Barcelona.
    • You can just stumble across historical sights, like Roman Amphitheatres, Forts or Castles – many of which you can reach and explore without an expensive cruise line excursion.
  2. Great Food and Drink Options: Mediterranean cuisine is renowned for its freshness and flavour.
    • You will be able to try Italian pasta, French pastries, Greek salads, and Spanish tapas, and enjoy the local wine, beer or other local drinks and spirits.
  3. Diverse Destinations: The Mediterranean offers a wide variety of ports, each with its own particular charm.
    • Visit the busy markets of Istanbul, the romantic canals of Venice, or the beautiful beaches of the Greek Islands. There really is something for everyone.
  4. Scenic Beauty: The Mediterranean coastline is dotted with picturesque villages, dramatic cliffs, and beautiful beaches.
    • Places like the Amalfi Coast and the French Riviera are renowned for their beauty – although there are many, less well-known beautiful places for you to visit too.
  5. Amount of Countries You Can Visit In a short time: If you are travelling to Europe and want to see as much as possible, cruises are great.
    • If you take a standard Western Mediterranean loop cruise you can easily visit Spain, France, Italy, Malta – and often other smaller islands such as Corsica and Sicily too – in a week.
    • You could choose an Eastern Mediterranean cruise and visit Italy, the Greek Islands, Croatia, Montenegro, Albania, and Turkey – there are so many interesting options available!

I took an amazing Western Mediterranean loop cruise onboard the Celebrity Edge. Find out how I got on here:

Find out when is the cheapest time to visit particular destinations, and when the peak cruising seasons are in the article below:

When is the Cheapest Month to go on a Cruise? (Real Examples) – Where and When I Travelled

Europe Excluding The Mediterranean: 10.4%

European cruises that exclude the Mediterranean attract 10.4% of cruise passengers.

This region includes the British Isles, the Baltic, and the Northern Atlantic, offering a different and fascinating experience.

I took a fascinating trip around the UK, visiting many places that I had never seen before. Find out about those unmissable sights below:

Attractions include:

  1. Historic Cities: Northern Europe is home to some of the world’s most beautiful and historic cities, including London, Amsterdam, Copenhagen, Stockholm and Helsinki.
    • These cities offer rich history, stunning architecture, and interesting cultures.
  2. Natural Wonders: From the fjords of Norway to the geysers of Iceland, Northern Europe has many breathtaking natural landscapes.
    • Cruisers can enjoy scenic cruising through these natural wonders. A trip to the Norwegian Fjords is a particular favourite of mine, I have returned there time and time again.
  3. Cultural Experiences: The region offers a wealth of cultural experiences, from art and music of London to the medieval charms of Tallinn, Estonia.
    • Each country and port is very different and offers unique insights into the local way of life.
    • If you take a Baltic cruise, you can visit many interesting capital cities in one trip.
  4. Cooler Climate: For those who prefer cooler weather, Northern Europe offers a pleasant climate, especially during the summer months.
    • This makes it an ideal destination for travellers looking to escape the heat of the Mediterranean or the Caribbean.
    • Although it is unlikely to be cold, you may experience rain. It is best to “layer up” with clothes so that you are prepared for all weathers!
Emma Cruises Norway Views

Find my British Isles packing list below. Other countries in Northern Europe have similar climates, so it is a good place to start:

British Isles Cruise – Complete Packing List + Printable Checklist

Find out all about my last cruise to Norway onboard Royal Caribbean’s Anthem of the Seas, and see the stunning Norwegian scenery in the video below:

Alaska: 5.7%

Alaska is a cruise destination on many people’s wishlists, attracting 5.7% of cruise passengers.

Known for its stunning natural beauty, Alaska offers a very unique cruising experience.

My first-ever cruise was to Alaska in 2005, and I returned to take an identical trip nineteen years later, in 2024. The return trip didn’t disappoint!

Highlights include:

  1. Glacier Viewing: Alaska is home to some of the most impressive glaciers in the world.
    • Cruisers can sail through stunning locations such as Glacier Bay, it is a totally unforgettable experience.
  2. Wildlife: There is plenty of wildlife to be seen in Alaska.
    • Cruisers can spot Whales, Sea Otters, Eagles, and Bears in their natural habitat.
  3. Beautiful Landscapes: The landscapes of Alaska are breathtaking, with mountains, lush forests, fjords and lakes.
    • Scenic cruising through the Inside Passage is a highlight of any Alaska cruise.
  4. Adventure Activities: Alaska offers a range of outdoor activities.
    • Try hiking, kayaking, and dog sledding. These adventures allow cruise passengers to really enjoy the natural beauty of the Alaskan state.

Find out about the amazing excursions I took in Alaska here:

North America West Coast, Mexico, California, and Pacific Coast: 5.6%

The west coast of North America, including Mexico and California, attracts 5.6% of cruise passengers.

West Coast cruises take you to enjoy the sunny beaches of Mexico and the amazing cities of California.

Interesting attractions include:

  1. Beach Destinations: Mexico is famous for its beautiful beaches and colourful beach towns.
    • Destinations like Cabo San Lucas and Puerto Vallarta offer sun, sand, and a lively atmosphere.
  2. Cultural Experiences: The region offers rich cultural experiences, from the historic missions of California to colourful Mexican fiestas.
  3. Exciting Cities: Los Angeles, San Francisco, and San Diego offer world-class dining, shopping, and entertainment.
    • Many famous cities are often included in cruise itineraries.
    • You will find places of interest and activities to suit everyone.
  4. Natural Beauty: The Pacific Coast is known for its stunning landscapes, including the rugged coastline of Big Sur and the scenic beauty of the Pacific Northwest.

Other Destinations Not To Miss

  • Asia and China (4.6%): This region is growing in popularity, offering a mix of ancient cultures, modern cities, and stunning landscapes.
    • Highlights include the Great Wall of China, the temples of Japan, and the bustling markets of Southeast Asia.
    • I have taken two Asia cruises from Singapore to Tokyo. I am keen to visit again, as they have been amongst my favourite cruises.
Obstructed view balcony cabin
Obstructed view balcony cabin Spectrum of the Seas
  • Australia, New Zealand, and the Pacific (2.4%): Known for their natural beauty and unique wildlife, these destinations offer a range of experiences from the Great Barrier Reef to the fjords of New Zealand.
    • A trip to this area of the world is very much on my “Bucket List!”
  • South America (2.1%): This diverse continent offers a variety of experiences, from the vibrant cities of Brazil to the natural wonders of Patagonia and the Amazon rainforest.
  • Canada and New England (1.1%): This region is known for its charming coastal towns, historic cities, and beautiful fall/autumn colours.
    • Cruises often include stops in Boston, Montreal, and Halifax.
  • Africa and the Middle East (1.3%): Although a smaller percentage, this region offers unique experiences, from the pyramids of Egypt to the exotic markets of Morocco and the modern skyline of Dubai.
    • The Middle East in particular is investing heavily in infrastructure and cruise lines now see the region as an attractive place to move their European fleets to in the winter season.
    • Travellers see these itineraries as an easy way to check off several bucket list attractions they may not previously have visited.

Find out more about the interesting sights I was able to visit on my Asia cruise below:

Before You Go

Check out when is the best time to sail to your chosen destination here:

Cruise Destinations and Timings (Peak Seasons, Popular Itineraries and Weather)

Find out why you should consider Norway for your next cruise below:

7 Reasons Why Your Next Cruise Should be to Norway

Free Insiders Cruise Line Guide

Ever wondered how the mainstream cruise lines compare? Cruise lines won’t tell you this, but I will.

This FREE guide shows you everything you need to know to find your perfect cruise line.