Normally at this time of year, the Cruise Critic staff come up with their best cruises of the year (and some of the ones that did not go so well). And although some of us were lucky enough to cruise this year, we felt it was more appropriate to do a round up of all those cruises we were lucky enough to be invited on, but never took -- which is how many Cruise Critic members are feeling right now.
So in this year that most of us would like to forget, enjoy our round up of the Best Cruises We Didn't Take (but hope we will in 2021!).
South African River Cruise with CroisiEurope
The call of the wild: What maybe cruising neophytes don't know is that the offerings by many lines go far beyond simple holidays in the Caribbean or Mediterranean. I have been eyeing the South Africa land and river cruises developed by the French company CroisiEurope since they came out in 2018, and in July 2020, my husband and I were planning to go. Being an American on a French line can be a wonderful cross-culture experience unto itself -- my Loire River barge trip with Croisi brings back beautiful memories of endless cheese courses. We can only imagine how wonderful the company's French flair would translate to a South African safari and wildlife trip -- and we hope to put it back on our travel calendar in the next few years.
-- Chris Gray Faust, Managing Editor
Alaska Cruise with Princess Cruises
I have never been to Alaska. I have devoured episodes of Ice Road Truckers, watched Grizzly Man with horrified fascination and vividly recall reading Call of the Wild and White Fang. This is how Alaska is burnished in my mind's eye. I appreciate a cruise with Princess along the Alaska coast would not take place in the middle of winter at 50 degrees below, but rather in mild weather, with almost 24-hour sunshine, picking out the breathtaking landscape in sharp relief; but it's still those extremes -- the biggest, the deepest, the wildest -- that capture my imagination. There was also the option of staying in a Princess Lodge for a few days and doing some hiking and fishing. I was also planning to surprise my godson, Alexander, who lives in Kelowna, B.C., with an invitation to join me as a 16th birthday present. Alas, it was not to be this year. But I'm hoping he'll join me for his 17th (I haven't told him yet).
-- Adam Coulter, Managing Editor UK
Galapagos Cruise with Silversea
In 2020, we lost our vacation of a lifetime, one we'd spent the better part of two years planning: A Galapagos cruise. I've been dreaming of this vacation for most of my adult life, and we'd finally booked it with Silversea Cruises, sailing on Silver Galapagos with my husband, along with my brother and his wife. Every detail was planned down to which excursions we'd be taking in Ecuador and how long we'd stay pre-cruise. When we finally got the call that it was canceled, we were crushed that we wouldn't see the areas famous wildlife (so long, blue-footed boobies and Galapagos penguins!) and pristine waters. But we know we'll get another opportunity, this time on Silver Origin, the cruise line's brand-spanking-new ship, which has delayed its 2020 debut until next year. Despite the curveball, we're excited for both the beautiful destination and feature-packed new ship.
-- Colleen McDaniel, Editor in Chief
Venice Cruise with Uniworld and Tulips Cruise with Viking River
It was shaping up to be a really eclectic year of cruises before COVID-19 hit in March. I had a lot of great ocean cruises lined up, but I think I was most disappointed to lose two springtime river cruises. I was supposed to travel to Venice to see Uniworld's refurbished and renamed S.S. La Venezia. I've been trying to get back to Venice for twenty years now, and every time I am booked to go there, something always seems to come up. I love the extravagance of Uniworld's decor and styling, and I was looking forward to seeing what they did in Italy.
I was also saddened to lose my Tulip Time voyage with Viking. I feel very at home in the Netherlands and onboard Viking's Longships, and a springtime journey through the flowers of the Netherlands and Belgium is still high on my bucket list.
-- Aaron Saunders, Editor
Alaska Cruise with UnCruise Adventures
I was so bummed when my UnCruise Adventures sailing -- slated for mid-August in Alaska -- was canceled days before departure, due to a false positive onboard. As a self-proclaimed National Parks geek and a photographer at heart, I was extra excited to explore the furthest parts of Glacier Bay National Park -- an untouched area that 99 percent of the park's visitors never get to experience. Despite my disappointment, the cancellation was ultimately for the best -- I'd rather take this bucket list trip when COVID numbers are on the decline. But in the meantime, I'll be dreaming about fresh Alaska air, making new laid-back friends, and photographing unbelievable landscapes and wildlife opportunities until I'm ready to rebook.
--Christina Janansky, Production Editor