Travel's Best for 2014

Luxury hostels, Cuba, local brew pubs and the Jersey Shore – they’re all reasons to pack your bags in 2014. See what hot destinations and travel trends are our favorites for 2014.

You Might Also Like

ScareHouse (Pittsburgh, PA)

ScareHouse (Pittsburgh, PA)

ScareHouse is the place to be this year, especially because it has an exclusive partnership with Legendary Entertainment to help create the scariest Halloween to date. Featured attractions include The Summoning, Pittsburgh Zombies: Black Out and The Basement. This Halloween haunt offers a big-budget sensibility without losing its hometown appeal. “ScareHouse is my pick because sociologist and ‘fear expert’ Margee Kerr is always on staff to research and develop new ways to truly disturb visitors,” says geek culture and paranormal pop-culture expert Aaron Sagers. 960 1280

ScareHouse  

Fright Dome (Las Vegas, NV)

Fright Dome (Las Vegas, NV)

Located in Circus Circus’ Adventuredome, the Fright Dome is one of Las Vegas’ largest and longest-running Halloween attractions. With 6 new haunted houses, the theme park is transformed into a pitch-black, lights-out, haunted spectacle – easily making it the scariest on the Strip. The 5-acre theme park also includes 25 rides and attractions, multiple live shows at night and 4 new scare zones, including the Clown Overload Zone. “My personal nightmare of clowns with glowing eyes surrounding me came to life,” says Zak Bagans, lead investigator of Ghost Adventures. “I had the worst panic attack. Needless to say, I’ll go back again, because it was badass!” 960 1280

  

Netherworld (Atlanta, GA)

Netherworld (Atlanta, GA)

With more than 200 animated monsters and 100 live actors, Netherworld is one of the nation’s most famous attractions. Having been featured on TV and in movies such as Zombieland, this spooky attraction has amazingly detailed sets. “And unlike other Halloween attractions, Netherworld’s creepy characters greet patrons in the parking lot before they purchase tickets, scaring them off before they even enter,” says Larry Kirchner, owner of HauntWorld.com and Halloween Productions. 960 1280

  

The 13th Gate (Baton Rouge, LA)

The 13th Gate (Baton Rouge, LA)

The 13th Gate is one of the most, if not the most, elaborately detailed haunted houses in America, thanks to a construction crew that includes award-winning set designers, lighting and sound technicians, and special-effects artists. Sets are over-the-top and feature live animals, including snakes and gators. In each of the 13 themed indoor and outdoor areas, more than 100 professional actors and 12 special makeup artists help bring the horror to life. “Hollywood production companies have rented the attraction multiple times to film movies such as The Reaping,” says HauntWorld Magazine owner Larry Kirchner. “The 13th Gate is, without any doubt, one of the best haunted houses in America.” 960 1280

  

Trans-Allegheny Lunatic Asylum Haunted House (Weston, WV)

Trans-Allegheny Lunatic Asylum Haunted House (Weston, WV)

The Trans-Allegheny Lunatic Asylum is one of the most memorable haunted locations for Ghost Adventures lead investigator Zak Bagans, who completed a live 7-hour investigation with the Ghost Adventures crew. The spirits that roam the asylum’s halls are extremely active, and tours are offered to see how the mentally insane lived and died within these walls. “It is undeniably the scariest overall haunted attraction that I’ve been to in the US, outside of the Fright Dome,” Zak says. Additionally, visitors can participate in zombie paintball, a fall festival and the Asylum Ball, which includes a costume contest. 960 1280

  

13th Floor Haunted House

13th Floor Haunted House

The 13th Floor Haunted House is the largest and longest indoor haunted attraction in Colorado. It was renovated this year with 2 new attractions. “Watch evil take control of unwilling bodies in Undead: The Possession, or run for your life as terrifying ghouls and monsters come alive as you walk through Dwellings of the Dead,” says TravelChannel.com video project manager Arthur Hsu. Equipped with state-of-the-art technology such as Microsoft Kinect, the robotic monsters are more than capable of frightening the victims who dare to venture into the 13th Floor. 960 1280

  

Bennett’s Curse (Jessup, MD)

Bennett’s Curse (Jessup, MD)

This haunted spectacle outside Baltimore is one of the top Halloween attractions in the mid-Atlantic region. It features 3 terrifying haunted houses — Medieval Underworld, Inferno 3D and Sanctuary of Insanity — and the owners of this popular haunt continue to add monsters and twists to keep the attractions exciting for new and returning visitors. Arthur Hsu says, “Not only has Bennett’s Curse been featured on Travel Channel’s America’s Scariest Halloween Attractions 3, but it has consistently been ranked by several sources as one of the best Halloween attractions in the US.” This spooky spot is also among the first to frighten its victims with the latest cutting-edge technology. 960 1280

  

Halloween Horror Nights (Orlando, FL)

Halloween Horror Nights (Orlando, FL)

Halloween Horror Nights at Universal Orlando should be at the top of anyone’s Halloween bucket list, especially fans looking for big-budget scares. Aaron Sagers says, “Movie industry experts craft haunted houses so loaded with detail that visitors walk through and feel like they’ve been dropped into an episode of The Walking Dead or the movie From Dusk Till Dawn.” Other popular attractions featured at the theme park include Bayou of Blood, Dollhouse of the Damned and Roanoke – Cannibal Colony. Those willing to face their fears can also enter, at their own risk, the Halloween house for a face-to-face meeting with Michael Myers, the iconic masked slasher from the movies. 960 1280

ROBERTO GONZALEZ  

Festival of the Dead (Salem, MA)

Festival of the Dead (Salem, MA)

Salem, MA, is historically known for the 1692 Witch trials that left 20 people executed. This year’s Festival of the Dead includes 2 weeks of events and parties designed to bring out your inner Witch. Attend a séance to speak with the dead, share your stories with others at the Mourning Tea, pick up new ghost-hunting techniques or learn about death’s macabre customs and strange rituals. Finish the festival with the Official Salem Witches’ Ball on Oct. 31, and you’ll leave this town spellbound. Author, TV personality and paranormal expert Jeff Belanger says, “This town will cast a spell on you.” 960 1280

Chad Champoux  

Queen Mary (Long Beach, CA)

Queen Mary (Long Beach, CA)

The Queen Mary was built in the early 1930s as a luxury trans-Atlantic ocean liner, but it was pressed into military service to carry troops during World War II, when hundreds died in and around the ship. This Halloween, the haunted ship is offering its Dark Harbor tours with 4 new attractions: the Soulmate maze, the B340 maze, Voodoo Village and Monster Midway, which features a freak show, a mechanical monster and a new ride, the Sinister Swings. “Keep your eyes open, because those ghostly apparitions you see may not just be another special effect,” says Jeff Belanger. And before you go, make sure you check out the Ghost Adventures’ lockdown and investigation of the Queen Mary. 960 1280

  

Fan Favorite: Waverly Hills Sanatorium (Louisville, KY)

Fan Favorite: Waverly Hills Sanatorium (Louisville, KY)

We asked and the majority of the people who responded on Twitter and Facebook told us that Waverly Hills Sanatorium, in Louisville, KY, should be the fan favorite pic for Travel’s Best Halloween Attractions 2014. Built in 1908, the original building was designed to accommodate up to 50 tuberculosis patients. Today, it’s the site for paranormal investigations, tours and creepy sightings. Add it to your must-see spooky spots on Halloween. 960 1280

unknown  

Best Country to Keep Watch On: Cuba

Best Country to Keep Watch On: Cuba

Airlines, hotel chains, cruise companies and US travelers alike are all hopeful for an official removal of the travel ban on Cuba after President Obama’s announcement of plans to re-establish diplomatic ties with the Caribbean country. With the possibility of this once-difficult-to-visit destination’s rigid travel restrictions easing up, our dreams of mojito-fueled nights of salsa dancing in colorful, classic-car-lined streets will be that much easier to attain.  960 1280

Walter Bibikow  

Best Meal-to-Go: Beefsteak

Best Meal-to-Go: Beefsteak

Move over, bacon: Veggies are getting the celeb-chef treatment this year. Chef José Andrés is taking on the trend of fast-casual restaurants and opening a vegetable-focused chain in early 2015. It’s called Beefsteak (named after a type of tomato, for those who don’t know) and will serve up healthy food, fast. While steering away from calling it a vegetarian restaurant, Andrés wants merely to make meat the side dish for once and celebrate the unsung power of vegetables while bringing wholesome food to the masses.   960 1280

The Washington Post  

Best Under-the-Radar Destination: Guatemala

Best Under-the-Radar Destination: Guatemala

While other Latin America countries have been more on the radar for travelers — especially Mexico and Costa Rica — Guatemala hasn’t received the tourism spotlight it deserves. With 33 volcanoes, a World Heritage Site in the city of Antigua, Mayan ruins, and the mystical volcano-ringed Lake Atitlán​, Guatemala is brimming with intriguing history, colonial grandeur and outdoor adventures that will keep every type of traveler intrigued. Take in the breath-taking beauty of Guatemala at Casa Palopo, a boutique hotel with panoramic views of Lake Atitlán and 3 majestic volcanoes across the shore. ​ 960 1280

Image Source  

Best Reason to Take a Cruise: Total Solar Eclipse

Best Reason to Take a Cruise: Total Solar Eclipse

Think all cruises are the same? How about a cruise to see a rare eclipse? A total solar eclipse on March 20, 2015, will be visible from the remote Faroe Islands, between Norway and Iceland.  Several companies are offering cruises to witness this rare event, which will not happen again until 2026 and, if you’re lucky, could include another awe-inspiring show from Mother Nature — the northern lights. With pricey tickets selling out for a phenomenon that lasts no more than 2 minutes, 47 seconds, we imagine there will be many prayers made for a clear day. 960 1280

Karl Lehmann  

Best Extreme Sport: Volcano Boarding

Best Extreme Sport: Volcano Boarding

With new luxury eco-resorts cropping up, Nicaragua seems to be on every travel list for 2015. There’s 1 extreme sport in particular here that’s catching our attention: volcano boarding. Racing down an active volcano at speeds of up to 30 mph on a wooden sled — sounds like a life highlight, right? That is, if you don’t fall.  Adventure junkies should proceed with caution and wear protective gear, because you don’t want to get cut by volcanic ash on a tumble.  960 1280

Matthew Micah Wright  

Best Outdoor Adventure: Hike the Pacific Crest Trail

Best Outdoor Adventure: Hike the Pacific Crest Trail

Hollywood isn’t the only one trying to re-create Cheryl Strayed’s Wild journey; throngs of fans inspired by the best-selling author’s 1,100-mile solo trek are hitting the Pacific Crest Trail, one of the country’s longest and wildest thru-hikes, in record numbers. With the film adaption of <i>Wild</i>, we expect 2015 to usher in even more rookie hikers on the PCT. Embracing the growing interest, the Pacific Crest Trail is sharing fans’ stories and even Strayed’s exact route, so you can follow in the author’s footsteps. We suggest wearing better-fitting boots, though. 960 1280

Anne Marie Fox  

Best Reimagined Destination: Haiti

Best Reimagined Destination: Haiti

A Caribbean island nation with a vibrant Creole culture and stunning beaches, Haiti was a hot travel destination back in the 1970s, when the Clintons even honeymooned there. Now, 5 years after the devastating earthquake that shook the country, curious travelers and sustainable travel companies are trying to put this often-overlooked and feared destination back on the tourism map. Using local suppliers in an effort to keep money in the country, G Adventures is one of the pioneering companies that firmly believes tourism can be a force for good in Haiti — and it’s launching 5 Haiti trips in 2015 to prove it. 960 1280

  

Best US Comeback City: New Orleans

Best US Comeback City: New Orleans

Marking the 10th anniversary of Hurricane Katrina in 2015, New Orleans is celebrating its resiliant nature and welcoming travelers more than ever as it looks forward to its tricentennial in 2018.  So if you haven’t been to Mardi Gras or Jazz Fest or eaten your way through the city, overindulging in beignets and shrimp po’boys, don’t go another year without visiting America’s comeback city.   960 1280

Franz Marc Frei  

Best Travel Gadget: Apple Watch

Best Travel Gadget: Apple Watch

With the highly anticipated Apple Watch going on sale in 2015, the travel world is gearing up to support wearable technology. A watch that doubles as a smartphone is the latest advance that will make it easier to plan and manage travel. Hotels, airlines and travel companies are now offering smartwatch apps that let you check in, book flights and download boarding passes … all from your wristwatch. With a hands-free device, it’s that much easier to score fleeting travel deals on the go, too.  960 1280

  

Best Travel App/Website: EatWith.com

Best Travel App/Website: EatWith.com

With the rising success of peer-to-peer websites such as Airbnb, start-ups are popping up using similar concepts but connecting travelers to foodies around the world. One of our favorites, EatWith.com, connects hosts who love to cook with travelers who want a taste of local cuisine. From a 9-course meal on a family farm in Florence, Italy, to sampling typical Peruvian dishes in the Andes Mountains, what could be a better way to experience a destination than to connect with locals over a homemade meal? 960 1280

  

Best Destination Wedding Spot: Florence, Italy

Best Destination Wedding Spot: Florence, Italy

With some of the world’s biggest celebrities — including most eligible bachelor George Clooney and internet-breaking Kim Kardashian — tying the knot in Italy in 2014, brides-to-be are imagining their own Italian fairy-tale weddings. Feel like a superstar yourself by saying your “I do’s” at the luxury hotel Il Salviatino, an exquisitely restored, 15th-century villa perched on the hillside of Fiesole with sweeping views of Florence and the rolling Tuscan countryside. Even if your groom isn’t George Clooney, you couldn’t have dreamed of a more romantic wedding destination.  960 1280

Antonio Pistillo  

Photos

Best Site for Travel Packages: HolidayPirates.com

Best Site for Travel Packages: HolidayPirates.com

"For great package deals, check out the website HolidayPirates.com. They find incredible deals for packages, flights and more departing to and from Europe. I've found some incredible, hard-to-find offers on that website, like $500-roundtrip flights to Europe or $50 flights from Europe to Turkey." -- Matthew Kepnes, Nomadic Matt 960 1280

Thinkstock  

Best Times for Off-Peak Travel: Jan. 15 to Feb. 28; Oct. 15 to May 15

Best Times for Off-Peak Travel: Jan. 15 to Feb. 28; Oct. 15 to May 15

"US Airways offers economy round-trip tickets to Europe from North America for just 35,000 miles from Jan. 15 to Feb. 28. If you have their co-branded credit card, that price drops to 30,000 miles roundtrip. American Airlines also offers off-peak discounted award tickets to Europe from Oct. 15 to May 15 for 40,000 miles, down from the usual 60,000. If you have their co-branded credit card, you can even get 10% of those redeemed miles back, up to an annual cap." -- Summer Hull, Mommy Points 960 1280

Thinkstock   

Best Hotel Rewards Program: Starwood Preferred Guest

Best Hotel Rewards Program: Starwood Preferred Guest

"Starwood Preferred Guest is a great hotel program, with a vast portfolio of hotels throughout the world. Redemptions start at just 2,000 points and members have the option to transfer points to dozens of airlines at a 1-to-1 ratio, with a 5,000 point bonus on every 20,000 points transferred." -- Rick Ingersoll, Frugal Travel Guy 960 1280

Getty Images  

Best Phone App for International Travel: Viber

Best Phone App for International Travel: Viber

"Calling, texting and emailing while abroad can rack up thousands of dollars in fees. However, there are great apps like Viber that you can use for free with an internet connection. Viber users can send free text messages, photo messages, video messages and more with other users, and it’s compatible with iPhone, Android, and other major mobile and desktop devices." -- Brian Kelly, The Points Guy 960 1280

Getty Images  

Best-Value Trip: Eastern Europe

Best-Value Trip: Eastern Europe

"For a great-value trip, head to Eastern Europe (Bulgaria, Romania, Ukraine) for very cheap destinations, great food, friendly people and few tourists. It's the medieval Europe you want without the crowds in Prague or Tallinn." -- Matthew Kepnes, Nomadic Matt 960 1280

Thinkstock  

Best Car Rental Option: Costco Travel

Best Car Rental Option: Costco Travel

"If you have a Costco membership, you can get good deals from Costco Travel such as no additional driver fees with certain rental companies. If booking abroad, AutoEurope.com gives good rates in Europe. I used it to book a wagon for a trip to Paris which saved me about 40% off booking directly with the rental company." -- Arthur Hsu, Mileage Runner 960 1280

iStock  

Best Frequent Flyer Program: United MileagePlus

Best Frequent Flyer Program: United MileagePlus

"United MileagePlus is a great program, as it offers access to an extensive route network and award inventory. In short, they make it easy to redeem your miles. United miles are also easy to earn, with the Chase Sapphire Preferred card offering instant 1-to-1 transfer of points to United." -- Rick Ingersoll, Frugal Travel Guy 960 1280

Getty Images   

Best Site for Fare Alerts: Yapta

Best Site for Fare Alerts: Yapta

"If you don’t want to constantly check and recheck websites for the best fares, then sign up for Yapta’s fare alerts. They will automatically keep you updated on the fares you are interested in. All you have to do is set the date(s), city pairs and the price point, and they will alert you via email." -- John E. DiScala, Johnny Jet 960 1280

Getty Images  

Best Site for Blind Travel Bids: BiddingForTravel.com

Best Site for Blind Travel Bids: BiddingForTravel.com

"When I shop around for hotels and car rentals, I don't think there is any better place than Priceline. But keep in mind when you use their Name Your Own Price feature, you can't cancel. Before I make a blind bid, I always log on to BiddingForTravel.com to see what other people's luck was with their bids. It shows how much people paid for which dates and will give you a pretty good idea of which hotel you will end up with." -- John E. DiScala, Johnny Jet 960 1280

Getty Images   

Best Credit Card for Travel: Chase Sapphire Preferred

Best Credit Card for Travel: Chase Sapphire Preferred

"The Chase Sapphire Preferred card offers generous sign-up bonuses and flexible points that can be transferred to both airline and hotel partners. The Sapphire Preferred makes it easy to amass points quickly, with 2x points on travel and dining. The original signup bonuses can be worth over $500 in travel after you meet the required minimum spend, within the first 3 months typically." -- Rick Ingersoll, Frugal Travel Guy 960 1280

Thinkstock  

Hermitage Bay - Antigua

Hermitage Bay - Antigua

"Hermitage Bay, a true barefoot luxury all-inclusive resort, has 25 cottages nestled in 16 acres of lush tropical gardens and fronted by a gorgeous beach. The resort provides informal dining where every meal feels privately catered to the guest’s specifications and desires. Don’t miss out on the Garden Spa, where the treatments are influenced by the ancient Eastern concept of chakra." -- Anthony Melchiorri, Hotel Fixer, Hotel Impossible 960 1280

Hermitage Bay  

Beaches - Turks and Caicos

Beaches - Turks and Caicos

"The all-inclusive Beaches resort is the perfect destination for a fun-filled family beach vacation, with endless distractions for kids of all ages. Tots, tweens and teens can enjoy fun games with Sesame Street characters, 'Sizzlin' teen disco and the Pirates Island Waterpark. Adults can relax at Red Lane Spa and enjoy sumptuous meals at the resort’s 19 restaurants." -- Anthony Melchiorri, Hotel Fixer, Hotel Impossible 960 1280

Beaches Resorts  

Amanyara - Turks and Caicos

Amanyara - Turks and Caicos

"This resort won my wife and me over with its attention to detail, great food choices and access to a variety of activities. Amanyara was the perfect choice for our wedding and for a recent 24-hour retreat from the kids. Couples can indulge in a spa day or a private dinner on the beach. We loved returning to our room each night to discover the small, thoughtful gift the Aman team left for us during the turndown service." -- Shane Green, Hospitality Consultant 960 1280

Amanresorts  

Hayman Island - Great Barrier Reef, Australia

Hayman Island - Great Barrier Reef, Australia

"Hayman Island provides access to a variety of wildlife, including exotic fish, a 400-pound grouper named 'Jacko,' wallabies and kookaburras. Hayman provides the perfect combination of activities and indulgences for both water sports enthusiasts and foodies like me. Visitors should not miss the chef’s table or the private dining events hosted under the stars by world-class winemakers and chefs. This island retreat holds a special place in our hearts, as we lived here for 2 years, overseeing the reimagination of the resort." -- Shane Green, Hospitality Consultant 960 1280

Hayman  

Howie's Homestay - Chiang Mai, Thailand

Howie's Homestay - Chiang Mai, Thailand

"At Howie's Homestayin Chiang Mai, guests check into a house with exquisite gardens and antique-filled rooms that has been featured in Architectural Digest. The owners, an American expat and his Thai wife, tailor the experience to your interests based on their insider knowledge, taking you on elephant treks, temple visits and shopping expeditions or leaving you to lounge by the pool as you like. Only one group, family or couple can book at a time, so the house is truly a luxury hideout of your own in Southeast Asia." -- Melissa Biggs Bradley, Founder of Indagare.com 960 1280

Howie's Homestay  

Mii amo Spa - Sedona, Arizona

Mii amo Spa - Sedona, Arizona

"My favorite American spa is really better described as a 16-suite wellness resort because you can pursue whatever kind of ‘well-balance’ you are looking for -- whether that is based on losing weight, getting fit, reducing stress, reconnecting with nature, bonding with friends or kick-starting a healthier lifestyle. The 3-, 4- and 7-day programs include both group classes like cooking, tennis and yoga, as well as personalized services such as facials, massages and psychic healing." -- Melissa Biggs Bradley, Founder of Indagare.com 960 1280

Mii amo Spa  

NIZUC Resort and Spa - Cancun, Mexico

NIZUC Resort and Spa - Cancun, Mexico

"Nizuc Resort has been the most luxurious resort in Cancun since it opened in September 2013. There are 274 rooms, suites and villas, many of which come equipped with private infinity pools. Within the resort complex, there are 6 high-end restaurants, the gorgeous indoor/outdoor ESPA spa with a detoxifying hydrotherapy circuit, a secluded beach and plenty of privacy. The resort -- tucked within lush foliage along a stretch of mangroves and beach -- offers a terrific all-inclusive Endless Indulgence package." -- Jimmy Im, Travel Personality 960 1280

NIZUC Resort and Spa  

Travaasa Hana - Maui, Hawaii

Travaasa Hana - Maui, Hawaii

"Acquired by new owners in 2011, Travaasa became the first resort in Maui to offer an all-inclusive package, which includes fitness classes. It's not common to find all-inclusive hotels in Hawaii -- so I love it here. This hotel has rustic cottages (no TVs or clocks) and a spa with an outdoor lava-rock whirlpool. In addition to its cool, retro Hawaii décor, Travaasa provides unique experiences for its guest. Where else can you do yoga in the morning while humpback whales do a backflip in the distance right before your eyes?" -- Jimmy Im, Travel Personality 960 1280

Travaasa Experiential Resorts  

Grand Resort and Spa - Fort Lauderdale, Florida

Grand Resort and Spa - Fort Lauderdale, Florida

"Experience the relaxing atmosphere of gay-owned-and-operated Grand Resort and Spa. In addition to its spacious rooms, this resort provides guests with a variety of amenities, including an oversized heated pool for swimming laps, a fitness center, an award-winning spa and a courtyard for nude sunbathing. Splurge on 1 of their 5 all-inclusive packages, like the Romance by the Sea Package, which provides 2 lucky lovers with champagne/wine upon arrival, a choice of 50-minute couples’ massage and more." -- Kwin Mosby, Managing Producer, Travel Channel 960 1280

Kwin Mosby  

ME Cancun - Cancun, Mexico

ME Cancun - Cancun, Mexico

"ME Cancun is an adult-oriented luxury resort that only allows guests to book accommodations as a ‘complete experience’ package. This resort’s 417 rooms all have breathtaking ocean or sunset lagoon views. All-inclusive services and facilities include 2 adults-only pools, a 24/7 fitness center, an E-space with library, the Beach Club, a world-class YHI Spa and more. All food, drinks, entertainment and activities are included in the price you pay." -- Kwin Mosby, Managing Producer, Travel Channel 960 1280

Meliá Hotels International  

Sandals Grande Antigua

Sandals Grande Antigua

We have a fan favorite winner and it’s… Sandals Grande Antigua! Our fans voted for this romantic resort as their pick because it offers guests the best of 2 worlds -- the authentic seaside Caribbean Grove and the 6-star, all-suite Mediterranean Village -- in one all-inclusive vacation. In addition to its great location on Antigua’s best beach (Dickenson Bay), this Sandals resort has 7 bars serving premium liquors, 11 specialty restaurants, butler service, 6 pools and the award-winning Red Lane spa. We clearly understand why this resort won your vote. 960 1280

Sandals Resorts  

Best Alaskan Cruise, Princess Cruises, Island Princess

Best Alaskan Cruise, Princess Cruises, Island Princess

Only in Alaska can you take a breath of crisp air while gazing upon the pristine greenery of spruce trees that line the mountains of the Inside Passage. Princess Cruises features its own lodges along this route and is the finest cruise line to offer such multi-day shore excursions. “The Island Princess, in particular, is sized to fit through the Panama Canal, she’s more intimate in scale and more manageable to navigate once onboard," says Jason Leppert, editor-in-chief of PopularCruising.com. The Bayou Café & Steakhouse serves Cajun cuisine, and fleet-wide, Princess bakes some of the best pizza pies at sea. 960 1280

Princess Cruise Lines, Ltd.  

Best Caribbean Cruise, Star Clippers, Royal Clipper

Best Caribbean Cruise, Star Clippers, Royal Clipper

You'll find a very different tropical seagoing experience aboard Star Clippers' 227-passenger Royal Clipper, the world's largest and only 5-mast, full-rigged sailing ship. The elegant tall ship frequents small exclusive ports like Bequia, Tobago Cays and Iles des Saintes. “Attracting sophisticated travelers (roughly half are European), Royal Clipper offers open-seating, dining on sumptuous fare and fine wine. After dinner, guests gather around the grand piano or on deck to watch the enormous sails unfurl in the wind,” adds Anne Campbell. Don’t miss the beach-side barbecue on a deserted beach. 960 1280

Star Clippers  

Best European River Cruise, Viking River Cruises, Viking Longships

Best European River Cruise, Viking River Cruises, Viking Longships

The popularity of river cruising has exploded in recent years and for good reason. There’s no other way to conveniently unpack one time and then leisurely visit a string of legendary European cities. At the forefront of such travel is Viking River Cruises and the line’s innovative new Viking Longships. “These intimate vessels feature a clever offset cabin configuration that provides more spacious accommodations closer in size to those found on larger seafaring ships,” says Jason Leppert. Meals feature destination-inspired cuisine and include house wines and beers. And couples can take a romantic cruise on the appropriately titled Romantic Danube itinerary. 960 1280

Viking Cruises  

Best Family Cruise, Disney Cruise Line, Disney Fantasy

Best Family Cruise, Disney Cruise Line, Disney Fantasy

Get the best family cruising experience onboard the newest Disney Fantasy. Watch Aladdin take flight on his magic carpet or meet Mickey Mouse and the gang dressed in nautical attire. Live out your fantasy of being a Disney animator at Animator’s Palate. “At the end of the meal, you get the thrill of watching the artwork you created (before dinner) come to life,” says Samantha Brown. “I watched as my drawing danced with Jungle Book characters Mowgli and Baloo. Let’s just say I felt 8 years old again.” Regardless of your age, there’s something to keep everyone engaged with amenities like the full-service spa, 2 large theaters, 3 freshwater pools, 6 adults-only nightclubs/lounges and 9 clubs to keep the kids, tweens and teens happy. 960 1280

Disney  

Best Hawaiian Cruise, Norwegian Cruise Line, Pride of America

Best Hawaiian Cruise, Norwegian Cruise Line, Pride of America

Many cruise lines set sail in the Pacific to tour the beautiful Hawaiian Islands. “Norwegian’s Pride of America is the only US-flagged major cruise line ship, which means maximum port time of 85 hours for a 7-night cruise,” says Stewart Chiron. Enjoy 2 days in Maui and Kauai as well as stops at Kona and Hilo. In addition to great food and entertainment, this ship has more balconies than any ship that cruises Hawaii, making it perfect for whale watching, viewing the glow of Kilauea Volcano or witnessing the awe-inspiring views of the Napali Coast. Spend a few days in Honolulu before and after the cruise to experience the sights or to just relax. 960 1280

Norwegian Cruise Line  

Best LGBT Cruise, Atlantis Events, Celebrity Equinox

Best LGBT Cruise, Atlantis Events, Celebrity Equinox

As summer starts to wind down, cruisers begin packing their suitcases for Atlantis Events’ annual and largest gay European cruise on the Celebrity Equinox. “This year’s new route takes passengers to 4 countries and 8 cities, including Barcelona, Ibiza, Rome, Florence and Monte Carlo,” says Kwin Mosby. While at sea, this ship has plenty of amazing amenities to keep everyone occupied including sipping on a frozen cocktail at Slush, rejuvenating at Canyon Ranch SpaClub and dining at one of the seven restaurants on board – including the Italian steakhouse, Tuscan Grille. Passengers can dance into the wee hours of the morning thanks to organized, themed parties every night. 960 1280

Celebrity Cruises Inc.  

Best Luxury Cruise, Silversea Expeditions, Silver Discoverer

Best Luxury Cruise, Silversea Expeditions, Silver Discoverer

Embark on an exciting adventure on Silversea Expeditions’ newest ship, Silver Discoverer. In March, this small cruise ship became the third member of the fleet, and its inaugural expeditions allow guest to encounter Stone Age cultures in Melanesia, spot the rare yellow-eyed penguin in New Zealand’s sub-Antarctic islands and more. “Led by expert guides, you can’t beat the intimate shore experiences of hiking, snorkeling and diving in some of the most remote parts of the world,” says Kwin Mosby. Follow the routes of ancient seafarers to some of the most isolated ecosystems of Southeast Asia, Australia, New Zealand, Micronesia, Melanesia and the Russian Far East. All you need to pack is your sense of adventure. 960 1280

Silversea Cruises  

Best Mediterranean Cruise, Windstar Cruises, Wind Surf

Best Mediterranean Cruise, Windstar Cruises, Wind Surf

The Greek Islands and the coastline of Turkey may be unrivaled for world-famous antiquities and spectacular beauty. These locales are best visited aboard Windstar Cruises' intimate 148-passenger Wind Surf. “The motorized sail vessel boasts refined dining and spacious staterooms for pampering the body after a day exploring ports like trendy Mykonos, Santorini and Kusadasi, which is a hopping-off point to see the ruins of Ephesus, where Cleopatra and Marc Antony began their fabled romance,” says Anne Campbell. Passengers get the extra special treat of an after-hours tour of Ephesus and 5-course banquet in the ruins' library courtyard serenaded by a string quartet. 960 1280

Windstar Cruises/Moment/Getty Images  

Best Mexican Cruise, Holland America, ms Veendam

Best Mexican Cruise, Holland America, ms Veendam

Experience the best of the Mexican Riviera on Holland America's ms Veendam. This 7-day cruise whisks passengers off to the Mexican Riviera to experience horseback riding along the beach in Cabo San Lucas; watch traditional Hispanic dance in Mazatlan and swim with the dolphins in Puerto Vallarta. “This is a nice option for seasoned cruisers or first timers looking for traditional cruise experience on a medium-sized ship,” says Stewart Chiron. New staterooms offer special spa amenities and a private resort-style pool. The ‘Showroom at Sea’ and ‘Mix’ are just 2 places where passengers can mingle and meet new friends while sipping on a microbrew, mimosa or martini. 960 1280

Holland America Line Inc.  

Best Unexpected Cruise for Food, Carnival Cruise Lines, Carnival Dream

Best Unexpected Cruise for Food, Carnival Cruise Lines, Carnival Dream

The Carnival Dream offers some of the best food in cruising with the Chef’s Table experience, which allows passengers to tour the gallery that includes an amazing full-service dinner of tasty appetizers, entrees and desserts not found on regular menus. The ship's restaurants and buffets have left lasting impressions on those who have traveled the world including Samantha Brown. “The best food I’ve ever had on a cruise was on Carnival,” says the Travel Channel host. “They have an excellent chef and kitchen staff from India and Bangladesh. I found a small buffet off the side of the pool area, where they served wonderful curries, cumin-spiced vegetables, freshly-made naan and even a refreshing mango lassi.” Other must-try restaurants on this ship include The Taste Bar, Steakhouse and Mongolian Wok. 960 1280

Carnival Cruise Lines  

The Hot List

Explore America’s most stunning scenery.
Join the conversation on Social Media!
Stay updated on the latest travel tips and trends.
Follow Us Everywhere

Join the party! Don't miss Travel Channel in your favorite social media feeds.