Top 13 Cruise Destinations for Culture

A cultural cruise to Shanghai with tall colorful buildings by the water
There is too much culture in the world for you to not explore on your next cruise. | Author: Edward He

You never have to go far to find culture on a cruise. There are people who like to play it safe and repeatedly go back to the same places but this means missing out on some amazing trips. There are many great cruise destinations for culture and great cruise lines to take you there.

There is no better place than a cruise ship to immerse yourself in fascinating cultures. If you don’t like somewhere then you can head back to the ship and be somewhere new the next day. The more likely scenario though is that you fall in love with many different cultures around the globe.

13. Cape Town, South Africa

For whatever reason, there aren’t many stop off points on either the west or eastern African coast. However, the southern tip of South Africa, will introduce you to a taste of a different world, where you will see beautiful scenery and a different way of living.

There are great safaris, African landscapes and some of the biggest animals in the world, both in and out of the water. Cape Town is stunning as it’s surrounded by wildlife with Table Mountain overlooking the city. 

Going around the southern tip of South Africa is a wonderful cruise experience which would be even more incredible if you have it as part of one of the many world cruises available. Cunard will be able to take you around the world in style and sample many cultures.

The coastal line of Cape Town with houses, beach and stunning mountains
As a top cruise destination Cape Town combines wildlife, landscapes and an exciting culture. | Author: John O'Nolan

12. Vietnam

If you want to head off the beaten path in terms of cruise destinations then a visit to Vietnam would be an incredible experience. There are many great places to explore and many great shore excursions that you’re going to be able to see. 

It is a diverse culture that has influences from many different parts of the world. Vietnamese cuisine is also exceptional and the country also has a unique sense of style and architecture. It is simply beautiful and a completely different culture.

One of the best ways to explore Vietnam is via one of their river cruises which can be enlightening. Getting on board a Celebrity Cruises journey though can give you a Vietnam cruise that will give you a full insight into their culture and way of life. 

11. Bergen, Norway

There are many unique cultures in northern Europe with the Scandinavian way of life being one of them. Norway being a perfect example of that. While much of their culture is derived from the violent Vikings, Norway is a country that is as friendly as it comes.

Bergen is a good place to visit to take in the Norwegian way of life as you take in the cosmopolitan city that has streets that are full of charm to give you one the best cultural experiences you can have. It also gives you a chance to sail through the remarkable fjords.  

Getting there will mean that you also pass through those fjords and gaze at their wonder. MSC Cruises have many itineraries through Northern Europe and will be able to take you to the beautiful Bergen and beyond.

10. Bora Bora, French Polynesia

In terms of experiencing a unique culture, it doesn’t get much better than visiting an island in the South Pacific where you will get to see a peaceful and sustainable world in all its glory. The culture is very much a product of the environment with the dress and cuisine matching the climate. 

Seeing the likes of Fiji and Tonga will fill your heart with cultural delight, as will the even more remote islands such as French Polynesia and American Samoa. There are many places to visit with Bora Bora being one for the bucket list.

Despite it being such a remote location in the middle of the Pacific Ocean, there are many cruise lines that go to the region. Princess Cruises are cruise experts and will be able to offer an amazing South Pacific cruise to give you a great taste of island culture. 

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9. USA

The United States is full of an incredible amount of different cultures depending on where you are in the country. If you are from New England, then it would be a great experience to visit New Orleans and if that’s where you’re from, then head off through the Panama Canal to the west coast.

It’s great to see different parts of the country that you have never been to. Many cruises depart from around the coasts at the likes of St Petersburg in Florida. You can also head north of the US and see one of the many great destinations in Canada. 

Holland America Line have many great cruises that cross all over North America. They give you the opportunity to see parts of the continent that you haven’t discovered and sample culture that that the different areas have. 

8. Athens, Greece

There are many different cultures along the Mediterranean and a lot of it is going to be able to be taken in on a cruise. Athens is one great example where you will be able to absorb the Greek culture including the famous food that they have.

Not only that but you can also step back in time and immerse yourself in the culture of years gone by. Seeing how the ancient Greeks lived will fill your mind full of culture. You will come away from your vacation with a whole new insight.

Sailing through the Mediterranean will give you a lot of peace of mind and relaxation as you sail through the historic sites. Costa Cruises has a huge volume of cruises through the region and will give you plenty of opportunities to visit Greece.

7. Cairo, Egypt

Being in Cairo is a highly unique experience where you are going to be able to see all manner of incredible things. It is a bustling city where you will be met with unique markets and a taste of North African culture.

You will also be able to step back in time and see ancient Egyptian culture by heading off to the pyramids at Giza and seeing the Sphinx. If you want to immerse yourself in the culture of the world, then Cairo is a must-see destination.

There aren’t any large cruise ships that go directly to Cairo but many will head off to Port Said which is a short trip away. Heading there in style with Royal Caribbean would be able to give you a wonderful trip and a memorable cruise vacation. 

Two camels with colourful decorations on their heads standing in front of pyramids in Cairo
Cairo as a top cruise destination offers unique moments with the North African culture. | Author: Fynn schmidt

6. Cairns, Australia

In terms of Australia and New Zealand, you’ll soon find out it’s a very different way of life and a very different culture. Part of the reason for that comes from the fact that, despite being very similar in size to mainland USA, Australia has around 300 million fewer people living there.

That gives is a much more laidback and relaxed feel and you’re going to be able to take in a unique culture in an English-speaking country. Cairns on the Pacific coast is a great example. You will also have the chance to take in the Unesco world heritage site of the Great Barrier Reef.  

Heading off to Australia is something that everyone should do at least once in their life as it is a unique experience. Visiting there in style with Seabourn would give you a luxurious trip while also taking in a lot of their way of life.  

5. Rio de Janeiro, Brazil

South America has a lot of unique cultures as you are going to be able to see the Latin way of life. It is great to visit with a group of people and there is no better example of how to sample that unique culture than in Rio de Janeiro. 

There is often a party atmosphere and you also have the opportunity to travel up to Sugar Loaf Mountain to see the Christ the Redeemer statue. You could, instead, simply enjoy the fun experience of spending the day on Copacabana beach and see a nation like never before.

There is a lot of charm in that part of the world, especially when you pass by the beautiful bay that Rio has. To do that in style it’s a great idea to head onto an Oceania Cruises ship that is going to help you have a trip of a lifetime. 

4. Naples, Italy

In terms of arts and culture, Italy has it at every turn. This list could easily include the likes of Milan, Venice or Florence. Rome is also an incredible destination where you are going to be able to sample plenty of Roman history but Naples is going to be able to give you an authentic taste of Italy.

It is the home of the pizza and isn’t as tourist-centered as other Italian cities. Many people live close to the city center and that enables you to see Italian culture in its true form. You also have the opportunity to see Mt. Vesuvius and the nearby Pompeii. 

There are many incredible sights to see in Naples and you’re going to be able to soak up all that atmosphere and culture. If you want to be able to see these sights in a fun and relaxed atmosphere, then Carnival Cruise Lines could be the best choice for you.

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3. Shanghai, China

Chinese culture can be seen in many parts of western life as there are Chinatown’s in destinations all across the world. Many people love Chinese food and their culture has also appeared in many movies too. There is nothing like seeing the real thing though.

Shanghai is a port city where you are going to be able to immerse yourself in all of this culture that you have seen. There is a lot of beauty to be seen in Shanghai with modern buildings, ancient temples and streets where you will see the true China.

It’s a destination where the ancient culture meets the modern one in a beautiful way. It is a place of style and it’s great to be able to explore it on a stylish ship. Azamara Club Cruises have a few incredible itineraries along the way.

2. Mumbai, India

Just like with China, many parts of Indian culture have been used across the globe. It almost gives you the impression that you know about it already. Indian culture is rich and incredible, and can only be seen to be fully understood.

With Mumbai, you will see a mix of many different cultures as there are numerous languages, a whole mixture of cuisine and also many different religions too. You’d be able to sample it all as you walk the streets and see the friendly locals. 

There are also many festivals and fine arts for you to enjoy too. Crystal Cruises offer a luxury cruise experience and being able to take that ship to such an interesting and culturally rich destination would make for a beautiful experience.

1. Tokyo, Japan

The Japanese people are notorious for being polite, kind and hard-working. It makes for a friendly experience and many people come away from the country falling in love with the place. It’s a unique place with a fascinating way of life. 

There are many museums, gardens, temples and markets to visit where you will be able to take it all in and leave with a whole new perspective of Japan. For such a progressive and powerful country, it is fascinating to see how their amazing culture is different from so many in the west.

It’s a place that simply has to be explored and a cruise is a perfect way to be able to see it. Norwegian Cruise Lines have a cruise that reaches a few different destinations in Japan. You’ll be able to take in their culture while also enjoying their history, nature and cuisine. 

Two Japanese women wearing traditional dresses and standing in front of the Asakusa shrine in Tokyo
Getting to know Japanese people and their way of living during a cruise is an experience you should not miss out. | Author: Sorasak

Cruise destinations for culture

The world is out there for you to explore and a cruise is a perfect way to be able to open your eyes to how the rest of the world lives. There are many great cultures out there for you to see. Thankfully the world is more accessible than it ever has been.

A cruise allows you to immerse yourself into a culture before you can get back on the ship and do it all again. All that’s left for you to do is to decidewhich of these amazing destinations to choose or try and combine as many as possible on one trip.

To make your vacation planning even easier, here you will find the best cruises going to the top 5 cruise destinations for culture: 

1. Best Asia Cruises

2. Best Cruises to Southern Europe (Mediterranean)

3. Best South America Cruises

4. Best Australia Cruises

5. Best Cruises to Middle East

Check out these articles for more top destinations: