7 best cruise destinations for 2019, according to thousands of reviews

Bora Bora
Courtesy of Cruise Critic Member GLemire

In 2018, cruising was estimated to be a more than $45.6 billion industry, and in 2019, 30 million passengers are expected to cruise, according to a Cruise Lines International Association report

So whether you're a first-time cruiser or a veteran, choosing where to cruise can be daunting with so many options available.

On Wednesday, cruise reviews website Cruise Critic released its annual Cruisers' Choice Destination Awards based on thousands of customer reviews over the past 12 months to help travelers narrow down their options from people who have been there.

While the Caribbean is a hot spot for cruisers, more "off-the-beaten-path" cruise destinations gained in popularity this year, according to Colleen McDaniel, editor-in-chief of Cruise Critic.

This year's "most popular cruise destination" goes to a river cruise in Avignon, France (where the Obamas recently vacationed), located in the Provence region, after receiving the highest rating from travelers among all cruise destinations across the globe.

Avignon, which is located on the left bank of the Rhone river and has a population of less than 100,000 people, was also named the best European river cruise destination by Cruise Critic.

Here are the most popular cruise destinations worldwide, according to Cruise Critic.

1. Avignon, France

Avignon, France
Courtesy of Cruise Critic kwebb23

This quaint little French city located in southeastern France's Provence region has become a popular stop on Rhone River cruise itineraries over the years. McDaniel describes the destination as "picturesque" and a "wine-lover's dream" because its the perfect access point to tour the famed Châteauneuf-du-Pape wine region. For history lovers, it's also home to the Palace of Popes, the papal residence during the 14th century. Avignon is also about an hour drive from Marseille — the location of the nearest international airport. Cruise lines that travel to Avignon include Avalon Waterways, AmaWaterways and Emerald Waterways.

2. Bora Bora

Bora Bora
Courtesy of Cruise Critic Member GLemire

This small South Pacific island northwest of Tahiti is a popular honeymoon destination for cruisers as well as avid snorkelers and divers — or even for those those who just want to relax on a beach. McDaniel says the best perk about cruising to this island instead of a land-based vacation is that it's usually cheaper and most ships typically stay in port for more than one day. Royal Caribbean International and Princess Cruises are the largest cruise lines that travel to Bora Bora.

3. Glacier Bay, Alaska

Glacier Bay
Courtesy of Cruise Critic

While cruise ships that visit Glacier Bay never get to dock at the port, they do sail through Glacier Bay National Park, giving travelers an incredible and intimate view of the National Monument's glaciers, fijords and wildlife. What's more, McDaniel says that often times a park guide will join guests on board to give a guided tour and talk about its history. Holland America Line and Ponant Cruises are popular cruise lines that travel to Glacier Bay.

4. Vienna, Austria

Vienna, Austra
Courtesy: Cruise Critic Member TMiles70

As the largest city and capital of Austria, Vienna has always been a popular spot for those cruising along the Danube River. McDaniel says travelers are drawn to the city's historic palaces and incredible architecture. Most cruises include an overnight stay in the city so passengers can check out its vibrant nightlife. The cruise lines that travel to Vienna include Avalon Waterways, AmaWaterways and Emerald Waterways.

5. Singapore

Courtesy of Cruise Critic

This island city-state located in Southeast Asia has grown into a popular cruise destination over the years. McDaniel says everything from its "overall energy, to its culture, dining, and architecture" have attracted travelers. However, one thing that is particularly great for cruisers, she says, is that it's an easily navigable city, making it ideal for exploration even when there's a limited amount of time in port. And for those looking to spend a longer time in Singapore, there are many cruises that depart directly from the city so travelers can arrive a few days before setting sail to take full advantage of what the city has to offer. Major cruises lines including Celebrity Cruises, Marella Cruises and Holland America Line all travel to Singapore.

6. Kirkwall, Scotland

Kirkwall, Scotland
Courtesy of Cruise Critic

Kirkwall is the largest town in the island chain of Orkney, located north of Scotland. McDaniel says cruisers have been increasingly drawn to this destination due to its rich history, with settlements dating back to 3000 BC and its famous St. Magnus Cathedral, which is nearly 900 years old. In 1999, Kirkwall was also designated a UNESCO World Heritage site. Cruisers love it because they call the historic streets as they shop, dine and learn about history. Cunard Line, Princess Cruises and Fred Olsen Cruise Lines all travel to Kirkwall.

7. Flam, Norway

Flam, Norway
Courtesy of Cruise Critic

This quaint village located in southwestern Norway is known for its fjords. McDaniel says cruisers also love its snow-capped mountains, waterfalls and gorgeous meadows, with one Cruise Critic reviewer calling it one of the "most beautiful places on Earth." Princess Cruises, P&O Cruises, Marella Cruises and Viking Ocean Cruises all travel to Flam.

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