TOP 5 Cruise Destinations

With the summer months quickly approaching, have you thought about those summer vacation ideas? How about a cruise?! It’s one of the easier summer vacation ideas out there since you can book most of the activities from the cruise line website. Whenever it’s time for vacation, I have a mental block on where to go and I can’t possibly be the only one. So, to make things easier for you, I have come up with the top 5 hottest travel destinations for this summer. Your summer vacation ideas don’t have to be stressful.  Once you have your reservations squared away, your next step should be to get your passport expedited, or otherwise you may find yourself high and dry come vacation time.

Cuba

Since this is still a new destination, I would leave the kids at home for this trip. If you’re in a hurry to vacation here before school’s out for summer vacation, you’ll need both your expedited passport (if yours is expired) and a visa issued by the Cuban government.  It’s worth it though, since Cuba holds so much history and there is so much to do, especially in Havana. Most sights to see are within walking distance of the cruise ship port! The walking tour is called “La Habana Vieja” and is offered by the cruise lines. You get to see each of the four main squares and how unique this UNESCO World Heritage site is.

Top Things to do in Havana, Cuba on a Cruise

Right down the road from the cruise terminal is the Havana Museum of Rum, which gives you a little bit of Cuban history, as well as a demonstration of the actual production process of rum. When you get tired of walking, you can catch a ride in one of their 1950s antique cars to finish touring the city. Cruise lines do offer this experience in advance, but local tour companies offer it for a cheaper price. Be sure to ask the tour guide to take you past Hemingway’s house, another must-see attraction while you’re here.

The Bahamas

A family favorite and a personal favorite summer vacation idea is The Bahamas. For this one, no visa is required, just an expedited passport if you want to hit the beaches the first day of summer (school’s out most places June 6th this year).  No matter which port you end up in, it is a guaranteed tropical adventure.  Excursions can be found anywhere on these islands. Literally. On the island of Exuma you can swim with pigs. Real. Live. Swine. And on the off-chance pigs do start to fly, you’ll have your expedited passport ready to get in the airplane and witness this miracle for yourself.  But I digress…in all seriousness, you can pluck the pigs right out of the water and cuddle with them if you want to in Exuma.

Since some of us like to keep it not so extreme and just go snorkeling, there is something for everyone in the Bahamas. Atlantis Resort has an all-inclusive water park that is out of this world and Nassau hosts a pirate tour for your little adventure seekers.  Be mindful though, child passports are only valid for 5 years (unless they were older than 16 when they got it, in which case they need an adult expedited passport if theirs is expired) so they might need a new expedited passport as well.

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Alaska

The weather is constantly changing, but that’s the best part. Between the mountains and the glaciers, how glorious! The wildlife there is diverse too. You can encounter all sorts of creatures, from eagles to whales. It is recommended that you remember to pack layers because it does get mighty cold in Alaska. Actual cameras, you know, ones with a lens, are also recommended for this travel destination because you cannot possibly capture the beauty on your smartphone camera app.

While you are in Alaska, the Misty Fjords National Monument is a must see. It is located near Ketchikan, which means it is only accessible by plane or boat. Thankfully, no expedited passport or emergency passport is needed since this is technically a domestic destination, but what is needed is a floatplane so you can get an aerial view of this National Monument.

Another amazing opportunity  in Alaska is the chance to visit is a Native American community. The Tlingit people are right outside Ketchikan and are known for their totem pole-making. The Saxman Village tour gives you an inside look at the Tlingit culture and has the world’s largest collection of totem poles. On the island of Metlakatla awaits the only Native American reservation in Alaska, and that is about 15 miles south of Ketchikan. There, visitors can get the inside scoop on another indigenous group, the Tshimshian.  How cool is that?

The Western Caribbean

Another quick, fun summer vacation idea is the Western Caribbean. This cruise typically consists of Key West, Mexico, Jamaica, San Juan and perhaps a stop in the Bahamas depending on how many nights you’re looking to go for. That expedited passport you applied for will come in handy to explore the beautiful beaches that Jamaica has to offer. Doctor’s Cave Beach and Seven Mile Beach are two of Jamaica’s must-see beaches, for surfers and sun worshippers alike.

A surfer at Boston Beach | ©Flickr

You will also need to pull out that expedited passport when you step off the boat and into Cozumel, where you can learn how to prepare traditional Mexican dishes from a local chef while taking in the festive culture of Cozumel. Cruising through San Juan, it is recommended that you take the time to visit magnificent Old San Juan, as well as the Adjuntas Coffee Plantation. San Juan also has a Rainforest called El Yunque, good for a day of hiking and animal watching. If your cruise is going to stop in Key West, you’re in for a real treat. The nightlife there, and day life, for that matter is a whole different world. They have trolley tours for you to see the whole town, or you can just do the bar crawl…either way, there are plenty of options to choose from. If you don’t want to stay on land, you can rent a boat or go parasailing. What Key West is really known for though, is the sunsets, THOSE are one-in-a-million.

The Mediterranean

If the Mediterranean is your fancy, you should already have your tickets. And if you forgot to book your tickets, I’m guessing you also forgot to check your passport expiration date.  So if your heart’s set on Greece, Italy and Spain, get your passport expedited with just 3 easy steps, while we handle the rest.  Realistically, it’s not unachievable even at this late, especially because you’re going to be getting your passport expedited, but to save yourself some money, now would be the best time to book the cruise tickets if you’re serious about this getaway and summer is the only time you can go.

Must-see’s for this tour include the Basilica of the Sagrada Familia in Barcelona, Spain, The Acropolis in Athens Greece, and the Colosseum in Rome, Italy, to start off with.   Aside from visiting the historical monuments, cruising to the Mediterranean is really for the cuisine and shopping. Barcelona is big on scooters..you can rent one there to sight-see all around Spain, which puts which will put a different spin on things. When you get to Greece, you’ll have the opportunity to look around the oldest city in Europe and travel around the volcanic island of Santorini. After arriving in Italy, you can wander around Vatican City and eat your way around Rome. They do offer a panoramic tour of Rome, which covers sites spanning over 2,500 years of history. This panoramic tour of Rome gives you the opportunity to visit all the main attractions, including Capitol Hill and the Tabularium. Then, they drive you back to your ship when the tour is over. You know how I mentioned shopping and food before? Since Italy is known for their fashion and design, it is only proper that they offer luxury shopping. Their shopping tour includes a personal shopping session with a professional shopper and image consultant. The expert guides you through the top shops, saving you time and money and helping you avoid purchase mistakes.

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Did you see a destination that was appealing to you and now you need an expedited passport for that special destination? Don’t fret! The Passport Office has over 20 years of expediting passports.  If you do happen to lose your passport on your international journey and need an emergency passport, applications for an emergency passport are accepted at the nearest United States Embassy or consulate general when traveling abroad and domestically, emergency passport applications are accepted through a registered passport expediting service such as The Passport Office, when applying for an emergency passport within the United States.