Dream Voyages

Looking to take a once-in-a-lifetime cruise? Here are some of our favorite waypoints.

France, French Canals
Vive La FranceiStock: jordieasy

Yachting contributor Chris Caswell says, "Chartering a canal barge and floating gently through the heart of Burgundy sets my heart racing, almost as much as the lovely red wines sold by every lock keeper while they hold you captive in their lock." Both bareboat and crewed barges are available, depending on how much wine you plan to drink. Caswell adds, "Burgundy is known for its big red wines, its Grand Crus, but we learned that there are wonderful reds that remain undiscovered simply because they don't travel. Lock keepers or a store in town filled our empty Evian water bottles with a pleasant, sometimes superb, wine for a few euros. It came from a local stock." This avid voyager also recommends picking out some scenic spots along the way and mooring to the canal bank with a couple of big stakes. Many charter barges come with bicycles that you can ride to villages for fresh baguettes, chocolate croissants and lunch at one of the cafes. One of the most interesting things Caswell says of a week along the canals — say, cruising from Corbigny to Joigny — is that after all that time on the water, you'll have traveled only about 84 miles. But, he adds, "Our cruise was not marked in kilometers, but in sighs of wonder as great chateaus and grassy meadows and forested hills came into view."

France, French Canals
French Canals: For wine-loving cruising enthusiasts, France’s Burgundy region offers easy passages and Old World epicurean delights.iStock: extravagantni
Alaska
AlaskaiStock: Jodi Jacobson

Yachting electronics editor and longtime sailor David Schmidt says that, in addition to fantastic boating, you can make mountaineering or a ski tour part of your cruise to Alaska. Perhaps it's time to plan that Inside Passage excursion. Be prepared, he says, "to eat the best crab and salmon in the world." And, if you're lucky, you'll get to see a grizzly spending a day at the beach. (We say watch the bear from the boat.)

Tuamotus
TuamotusiStock: mfron

“Every time I’ve been on a charter yacht in Fiji’s Mamanuca chain, Fiji’s Yasawa chain or Tahiti and the Society Islands, the captain of whatever yacht I was aboard told me, ‘You think this diving and scenery is great? You should charter in the Tuamotus,’” explains charter editor Kim Kavin. The Tuamotus are a chain of 80 islands including Manihi and Rangiroa, both known for their snorkeling and diving. We want to visit Tikehau, whose name means “peaceful landing.” Who wouldn’t want to cruise there? Kavin adds, “The Tuamotus apparently are less developed, with bigger reefs, bigger game and, I’m told, harbors where yours is the only yacht around. Whenever I fall into a deep sleep and dream in color, that’s the place whose sunset I see.”

Hawaii, Turtle
HawaiiiStock: dsischo

Schmidt has this Pacific oasis as one of his top five cruising locations. "While there aren't a ton of marinas, the boating here is world class, thanks to its middle-ocean location. There are great winds for sailing and fantastic fishing for anglers, with plenty of opportunity for a mai tai back on shore." If you fulfill your dream cruise here, Yachting's Ron Martin, who lived in Hawaii for many years, offers these marina suggestions: Ala Wai Harbor on Honolulu, Ko Olina Marina on West Oahu, Lahaina Harbor on Maui and Gentry's Kona Marina on the Big Island.

Aland Islands, Finland
Aland Islands, Finland: "Beautiful scenery, European sophistication and a million islands to explore," says Yachting's David Schmidt.iStock: ValerijaP
Phuket, Thailand
Phuket, Thailand: Gin-clear waters, white-sand beaches and cultural immersion are all part of the cruising experience here.iStock: AleksandarGeorgiev

Yachting contributor and longtime cruiser Chris Caswell explains this otherworldly location: "How can you describe islands that rise from the sea like huge fangs? Or taking the dinghy into their hollow center, where a 1,000-foot-high atrium lights up your private lake?" Come ashore to sample the local cuisine, but remember this phrase: Kor mai phet. Caswell says it translates as "not too spicy, please." Yachting's charter editor Kim Kavin says Phuket recently paved the way for expanded visitation with permits for charter yachts 100 feet and larger too. Cinephiles and James Bond fans will want to explore Ko Tapu, Phang Nga Bay, to see where James Bond searched for the villainous hitman Francisco Scaramanga in The Man with the Golden Gun.

Cuba
CubaiStock: Michal Krakowiak

It has been so close, yet so far away for decades. Loosening government restrictions could soon open up this sugar-sand beach paradise to voyaging yachtsmen. A mere 90-mile crossing from Key West, Florida, Cuba has been on this staff's and many American readers' cruising short lists for some time. Yachting has recently been invited to visit this formerly forbidden land, and we look forward to bringing you back a firsthand account in the near future. Or, maybe, we'll see you there too.

Patagonia
PatagoniaiStock: naphtalina

Yachting's Schmidt quips, "What boater doesn't want to go round the Horn on their own keel?" Much like Alaska, Patagonia offers adventures on the water and off, from exploring Beagle Channel to checking out Torres del Paine National Park. He adds with a laugh, "Argentina and Chile are both for known for red wines, which are a personal weakness."

Maine
MaineiStock: © Brian Swartz

Sabre Yachts’ Bentley Collins has an affinity for the pristine scenery around this seaside New England nirvana, particularly the Penobscot Bay area. Collins says, “On my first trip there, a fellow boater pointed to a couple of lobster buoys far up a nearby creek and said, ‘You can use those. They are actually hurricane moorings.’ My wife and I hooked our boat to one for the night, and the gentleman who told us about them dropped by for coffee. We had the most beautiful night there. We woke up to deer munching on blueberry bushes on the bank. We thought we’d died and gone to heaven.”