Lonely Planet Writer

Cruise ship captains give advice on their top sailing destinations

If you’re consider a cruise but don’t know where to go, how about considering the suggestions of cruise ship captains who travel around the world for a living.

Colourful fish swimming in tropical water, Bora Bora, French Polynesia.
Colourful fish swimming in tropical water, Bora Bora, French Polynesia.
Image by Spaces Images

Carnival Corporation, the world’s largest cruise ship company and parent company of many cruise lines, asked a variety of their captains what’s their favourite destination.

Captain Mariano Manfuso, who sails the Island Princess for Princess Cruises, put a vote in for French Polynesia, saying the sunsets are extraordinary and visiting the islands is a unique experience. He notes that “Bora Bora is the perfect place for diving and water safaris, an enchanting geological phenomenon”.

Overview of Opera House and Harbour Bridge at dusk.
Overview of Opera House and Harbour Bridge at dusk. Image by Pete Seward

Another captain, Captain Dino Sagani, cited Sydney, Australia as a top destination, noting that heading into the famed Sydney Harbour is “second to none – the white surf breaking onto the rocky Heads that mark the entrance, a natural welcome to the beautiful waters”. The views travellers get of the Sydney Opera House and the Harbour Bridge are a also an amazing experience for travellers, he says.

Calm beach in Indonesia.
Calm beach in Indonesia. Image by Dammer Saragih

But Indonesia was the top destination of Captain Hans Mateboer, who sails for the Holland America Line and said that the country’s sunsets are an unexplainable adventure. “Seeing this huge warmth-generating star touch the horizon and seemingly stay there for a while, then disappear too soon, is a wonder that is unbelievably grand in its simplicity”.

Queen Elizabeth transits the Panama Canal. This is the first set of locks situated on the Atlantic entrance of the Panama Canal.
Queen Elizabeth transits the Panama Canal. This is the first set of locks situated on the Atlantic entrance of the Panama Canal.

Captain Peter Philpott said that he likes to sail through the Panama Canal, which resonates with him because of the history of the canal, which was completed in the 20th century. “When we sail through the steep-sided Gaillard Cut section of the canal, one cannot but think with awe of the vast numbers of canal construction workers who lost their lives in the jungle in order to complete this Wonder of the World, connecting two oceans, which forever changed the face of the shipping industry.”

But there are as many destination suggestions as there are cruise ship captains, with others suggesting Fort-de-France, Martinique; Manaus, Brazil; Grand Turk; Hamburg, Germany; Brisbane, Australia and New York.