Top 13 Cruise Destinations for Beaches

Cruise ship visitors sunbathing on a beach dotted with colorful umbrellas and palm trees
There's no harm in soaking up some sun on the beach while on a cruise. | Author: Lance Asper

Choosing the best cruise destination for your needs can be hard enough at the best of times, but trying to think of somewhere more specific such as the best cruise destinations for beaches can make the job even harder.

That's where we can help, as we give you a guide to cruising to the best beaches in the world. While there are hundreds of wonderful beaches in the Caribbean, there are plenty more spread around the globe. Here we look at the 13 best cruise destination to visit for beach lovers.

13. Kusadasi, Turkey

Turkey is a large and beautiful country that has many places to visit. Along its coast it also has a host of amazing beaches too. One of the best places there is Kusadasi, which is on its west coast, across the Aegean Sea from Athens. 

Its seafront has many great restaurants with fascinating markets and beautiful scenery. The Downtown Beach is a great place to relax with pristine blue waters and the softest sand there is. You can also enjoy the many cheap shops it has scattered around. 

One of the most remarkable cruises that you can take is Holland America Line’s romance and ancient history cruise where you will be able to see historic sites, romantic locations and wonderful beaches for when you want to relax.

12. Barcelona, Spain

Barcelona is a very popular cruise port for a wide variety of different reasons and one of them is the ability to pull up a beach chair on one of its many beautiful beaches. It is a great destination for kids too as the beaches are family friendly and there is something for everyone. 

In terms of the best beaches to visit, it can only really be Barceloneta Beach which is as central as it gets. As you can imagine for such a location, it’s full of activities, water sports and plenty of shops but also a lot of opportunities to relax, as it is a very large beach.

It’s a hive of activity and there is something to cater to everyone. When it comes down to cruising to Barcelona, MSC Cruises is king as they have a vast array of different cruises to this stunningly beautiful destination with a wide choice of itineraries. 

11. Aruba, Dutch Caribbean

While technically part of the Netherlands, Aruba sits around 8,000 kilometers away from Amsterdam in the Caribbean Sea, where crystalline water and luxurious beaches lined with palm trees set the tone of the landscape. It is a beautiful location with a unique culture.

Clear turquoise water is always worthy of a picture to make everyone at home jealous and if that sounds like a fun idea, then the turquoise waters of Eagle Beach are going to be able to give you some astounding snaps. Aside from that, it is simply a slice of paradise and a perfect place to let the stress of life wash away.

Aruba is a great place to visit and you can also go through the Panama Canal on your journey with Cunard. They will be able to show you some beautiful beaches and the canal in its 19-night cruise, where you are going to have a mix of incredible experiences while being on a beautiful cruise ship.

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A beach from a Caribbean Island with palm trees, white sand and clear water
As the most classic destination for beaches, the Caribbean will certainly fulfill your expectations. | Author: Fabian Wiktor

10. Mykonos, Greece

Greece is a popular cruise destination for its beauty, incredible history and also the amazing food. In addition to all that, it has a number of great beaches on its mainland and also on the many islands that it has. Perhaps the most popular destination in Greece for fantastic beaches is Mykonos.

It is a great place to have fun and if you’re looking for somewhere that has a beach club, then Mykonos may well be perfect for you. However, if you’re looking for something a little quieter and relaxing, then Lia Beach or Chora Beach will be the perfect spot.

While there are many great international cruise lines that run through the region, Costa Cruises is a local expert in the Mediterranean and their 7-night cruise through the beautiful water will take you to some of the most beautiful beach locations in Europe. 

9. Durban, South Africa

In terms of a great beach destination for your cruise, Durban ticks some huge boxes as it has a vast expanse of sand which sits on the edge of the coastal city. That means you will have minimal traveling time before you are able to lie down on the sand and soak up the sun.

Not only that, but you might get to see some incredible animals too as often whales and dolphins can be spotted from the shore. It used to be a dirty beach but a huge clean-up has left behind great natural beauty.

South Africa is a fascinating country to visit and Azamara Club Cruises have South African tours where you will be able to explore the country. If you fancy something a little more adventurous, then Seabourn has a 107-night world cruise that passes by.

8. Sardinia, Italy

There are many incredible, historic and romantic destinations to visit in Italy but it is also home to many beautiful islands, with one of them being Sardinia. One look out of your cruise ship cabin and you will truly appreciate how beautiful Sardinia is.

It is lined by beautiful beaches with perhaps the best example being the Su Giudeu Beach which has an amazing contrast of beautiful colors with activities for everyone. It’s a beautiful part of the world where turquoise waters hit the white sands for the perfect postcard scenery.

As we mentioned a little earlier, Costa Cruises is a great company for the region but if you’re looking for a more luxurious experience then heading to Sardinia with Azamara Club Cruises would give you a truly unforgettable cruise vacation. 

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7. Nice, France

There are many beautiful beaches along the southern French coast. It’s commonly referred to as either Cote d'Azur or the French Riviera but whatever you want to call it, it is one of the most beautiful parts of the world. Combining that beauty with great food and beaches definitely makes for a great cruise vacation.

Nice is a stunning and romantic city and if you’re looking for a beautiful beach you won’t have to go far in search of Villefranche Sur Mer. If you don’t want the 15-minute bus ride then you can simply relax on the Blue Beach which sits at the front of the city.

If you visit Nice then you might find it a little too tempting to explore the town rather than the beaches but however you end up spending your time, you’ll love it. Silversea Cruises offer many great cruises to the French city whilst also taking in other beautiful locations.  

6. Dubrovnik, Croatia

Dubrovnik is another location where the destination is almost too good for a trip to the beach but if you have been there before or simply want to relax, then you can take a short ferry ride over to the island of Lopud, which is completely free of cars.

It has the beautiful sands of Sunj Beach that leads into shallow waters, allowing you to have a splash around in the water without having to worry about going too far. There is also Bellevue Beach which is closer to the center but more pebbled.

To go with its beaches, Dubrovnik also has a beautiful old town to explore too. Oceania Cruises have a Mediterranean Flair cruise that will visit the beautiful Croatian city along with many other picturesque cities in Europe.

5. Sydney, Australia

If a stunning harbor is what you were looking for, then Sydney most likely has the best in the world, with its incredible bridge along with the Opera House on its banks. It is a wonderful destination especially for nature and animal lovers, with friendly locals and even friendlier weather.

In terms of the most famous beaches in the world, Bondi Beach would be near the top of the list with great water sport activities and a vibrant atmosphere. If water sports aren’t your thing, then you can simply relax on the perfectly silken sand.

If you want to take the kids but don’t want to spend too long out at sea, then Disney Cruise Line has a stunning 10-night cruise that powers its way across the globe, visiting the UK, the USA and Australia. It would be a trip they would never forget. 

Two surfers on a wave at Bondi Beach in Sydney in Australia
If you are looking for great water sports experience, the beaches in Sydney will be great for you. | Author: James Stronsky

4. The Bahamas

If you are heading off on a Caribbean cruise then you’re going to encounter many beautiful beaches from the Pink Sands Beach in Grand Cayman to the relaxing havens in the likes of Turks and Caicos, the Virgin Islands, Jamaica and many others. 

The Bahamas is perhaps the best example of a Caribbean beach paradise with attractions such as the incredible beach resort Atlantis and the Seven Mile Beach which is actually around five and a half miles long.

There is also the private island of Balmoral which is wonderful for snorkeling and relaxation. It is just one of many incredible beach destinations in the region and a great way to see them in style is with Carnival Cruise Lines who have many great itineraries throughout the Caribbean. 

3. Bora Bora, French Polynesia

The South Pacific is a splendid part of the world where beaches with white sands, a gentle breeze and friendly locals can be easily found. It's home to some of the most picturesque and stunning landscapes you can possibly imagine.

Nowhere is there a better example of that than in Bora Bora. It has fine sand, beautiful palm trees, perfect beaches. It’s a place where your mind will be cast away and you’ll feel as relaxed as you ever have been in the island paradise.

Due to its remote location in the middle of the Pacific Ocean, there’s not huge cruise traffic but there are still plenty of options. Celebrity Cruises has a Pacific cruise that would enable you to see some of the world’s most gorgeous beaches, including those in Bora Bora.

2. Hawaii, USA

In terms of having breathtaking beaches in a compact space, Hawaii is probably the best destination in the world. If you get great cruise deal to visit the different islands then you will be able to enjoy a vast range of incredible beaches.

While there are many great national park beaches in the USA, none of them can compare to the sights of Hawaii. You can see the black sands of Kaimu, the rock formations on the Na Pali coast or the many beaches that allow you to explore their beautiful coral reefs.

Hawaii is a bucket list destination for any beach fan and there is no better way of exploring that than with a cruise ship. Norwegian Cruise Line offers short week-long trips to Hawaii where you will be able to explore it in all its glory. 

1. Rio de Janeiro, Brazil

Brazil is a humongous country that has an incredibly long continuous coastline with an unbelievable number of beaches to explore. There is one stand-out destination in the South American country though and that would be Rio de Janeiro.

If you to ask people across the globe to name one of the many beaches in the world, the Copacabana beach would probably be the most common answer given. While that may be in part to Barry Manilow’s 1978 hit, it is more likely due to the fact it’s an impressive beach.

The lesser-known Ipanema is equally as stunning and either beach will give you the most memorable beach experience you could ever have. Seabourn and MSC have many great itineraries in the region, but for something more romantic and luxurious, Regent Seven Seas will take you there.

People enjoying the beach and playing with a ball in Rio de Janeiro during sunset
Looking for the perfect beach cruise, Rio de Janeiro in South America is the best choice you can make. | Author: pauloduarte

Cruise destinations for beaches

The wonder of a cruise ship is that it is able to take you to numerous different locations where you are going to be able to have an amazing experience. If you find the right cruise itinerary then you are going to be able to hop from one great beach to the next.

Whether you are looking for relaxation, water sports or simply a swim in some beautiful waters, there always a beach perfectly suited to your needs. All that’s left to do is book your cruise and start thinking about what you need to pack for your beach cruise vacation.

To help you start your search for your cruise vacation, you can check out the offers for the 5 best cruise destinations for beaches: 

1. Best South America Cruises

2. Best Hawaii Cruises

3. Best South Pacific Cruises

4. Best Caribbean Cruises

5. Best Australia Cruises

Check out these articles for more information on planning your cruise: