10 Coolcations – the best refreshing summer cruise destinations

Summer is the perfect time for a vacation, but not everyone enjoys the sweltering heat of the Mediterranean or the Caribbean. Enter “Coolcations” – vacations in cooler destinations that offer refreshing climates and breathtaking scenery.

For cruise travelers, Coolcations provide the perfect escape, blending comfort and adventure. Here are ten of our favorite destinations to consider for your next cool summer cruise.

Why choose “coolcations” summer cruise destinations?

Choosing a Coolcation has numerous benefits:

  • Comfort: Cooler temperatures mean you can explore without overheating, making the most of shore excursion days in every destination you visit.
  • Scenic Beauty: These destinations often feature stunning landscapes, from glaciers and fjords to scenic waterways and picturesque villages.
  • Fewer Crowds: Cooler climates tend not to be so jam-packed with visitors, offering a more relaxed experience without fighting the crowds.
  • Family-Friendly: Ideal for older travelers and families with young children who prefer moderate weather.

1. Alaska – adventure, relaxation, and awe-inspiring scenery

Alaska’s glaciers, wildlife, and rugged beauty make it an ideal Coolcation in summer. Enjoy long summer days with extended daylight and experience breathtaking views of towering glaciers, pristine fjords, and untouched forests.

The cool, refreshing climate, with average summer temperatures ranging from 55°F to 65°F (13°C to 18°C), provides a welcome escape from the summer heat elsewhere. Explore coastal towns, native cultural experiences, and abundant wildlife, including humpback whales, bald eagles, and sea otters. Alaska is the perfect cruise destination for a summer Coolcation.


  • Glacier Bay National Park: Witness towering glaciers and diverse wildlife.
  • Juneau: Explore the capital city with a rich history and outdoor activities.
  • Ketchikan: Known for its totem poles and vibrant arts scene.

Origin Ports:

Activities: Glacier tours, wildlife viewing, hiking. Visit our excursion shop in our Resources section to find the best shore excursions in these destinations.

2. Norwegian Fjords – breathtaking scenery and invigorating climate

Norway’s fjords offer a dramatic landscape with crisp mountain air. Sail through deep, narrow fjords flanked by towering cliffs and powerful waterfalls; you’ll want to come back again and visit this spectacular environment.

The region’s climate, with average summer temperatures ranging from 55°F to 65°F (13°C to 25°C), provides a perfect escape from the summer heat.

The fjords are teeming with wildlife, including porpoises, seals, and a variety of seabirds. Charming villages, with their colorful wooden houses and rich cultural heritage, dot the landscape and daily shore excursions allow you to experience life in these towns, our favorites being Bergen and Flåm.


In our opinion, all the stops of Norwegian Fjords cruises are spectacular. You’ll find more about our visits to these ports here.

  • Geirangerfjord: Famous for its steep cliffs and cascading waterfalls.
  • Bergen: A historic city surrounded by mountains and fjords.
  • Flam: Known for the scenic Flam Railway.

Origin Ports:

Activities: Fjord cruises, scenic train rides, hiking. Visit our excursion shop in our Resources section to find the best shore excursions in these destinations.

3. Baltic Sea – diverse cultural experiences and scenic beauty of Northern Europe’s iconic cities

Baltic region cruises boast historic cities and mild summer temperatures, making them ideal coolcations in the summer months. As you cruise through the Baltic Sea, you’ll have the chance to explore iconic cities like Stockholm and Helsinki, each brimming with Nordic history.

With pleasant summer temperatures averaging between 60°F to 70°F (15°C to 26°C), the region offers a comfortable climate for sightseeing and outdoor activities.

From the medieval charm of Tallinn’s old town to the modern elegance of Stockholm’s archipelago, the Baltic region offers unforgettable summer coolcations.

Origin ports:

Activities: City tours, museums, cultural experiences. Visit our excursion shop in our Resources section to find the best shore excursions in these destinations.

4. New Zealand – a rich tapestry of experiences

New Zealand offers diverse landscapes and adventure in an ideal climate – and is one of our favorite destinations in the world. Cruise in the spring and autumn months and experience stunning landscapes. Discover majestic fjords, lush rainforests, and pristine beaches, each more breathtaking than the last.

The mild temperatures in spring and fall, average between 60°F to 75°F (15°C to 24°C), create a perfect environment for outdoor activities and exploration.

With its vibrant Maori culture, charming coastal towns, and world-renowned vineyards, you can choose how you want to spend your time here— whether hiking in national parks, exploring bustling cities, visiting vineyards, or experiencing New Zealand’s Maori culture.


  • Auckland: A vibrant city with beautiful harbors.
  • Wellington: The nation’s capital, known for its arts and culture.
  • Fiordland National Park: Home to stunning fjords and rainforests.

Origin ports:

  • Auckland, New Zealand
  • Christchurch, New Zealand
Activities: Wildlife tours, scenic cruises, outdoor adventures. Visit our excursion shop in our Resources section to find the best shore excursions in these destinations.

5. British Isles – a blend of history, culture, and scenic splendor

The British Isles offer a blend of historic charm and natural beauty. Discover iconic landmarks, ancient castles, and picturesque countryside landscapes that capture the essence of Britain and Ireland.

With average summer temperatures ranging from 55°F to 70°F (13°C to 22°C), the climate is perfect for exploring outdoor attractions and enjoying leisurely strolls through quaint villages and bustling cities.

The British Isles offer diverse experiences, from the vibrant cultural scene in London and Dublin to the serene beauty of the Scottish Highlands and The Cotswolds countryside.


  • Windsor Castle
  • Stonehenge
  • The Cotswolds
  • The Titantic Story
  • Edinburgh Castle

Origin ports:

Activities: Historical tours, countryside excursions, cultural events. Visit our excursion shop in our Resources section to find the best shore excursions in these destinations.

6. Canada and New England

Canada and New England have a rich tapestry of history, culture, and natural splendor. Explore charming coastal towns, majestic mountains, and vibrant cities that epitomize the allure of North America’s northeastern coast.

With pleasant summer temperatures ranging from 60°F to 80°F (15°C to 27°C), the climate is ideal for exploring scenic landscapes and enjoying outdoor activities.

Canada and New England offer varied experiences, from the cosmopolitan cities of Boston and Montreal to the serene beauty of Cape Breton Island and the rugged coastlines of Maine. Discover the region’s rich maritime heritage and the best fresh seafood you will eat anywhere.


  • Halifax: A charming city with a maritime history.
  • Bar Harbor: Gateway to Acadia National Park.
  • Boston: A city steeped in American history.

Origin ports:

Activities: Whale watching, historical tours, coastal walks. Visit our excursion shop in our Resources section to find the best shore excursions in these destinations.

7. Iceland

Description: Iceland’s dramatic landscapes and geothermal wonders offer a unique Coolcation.


  • Reykjavik: The vibrant capital with a lively cultural scene.
  • Blue Lagoon: A famous geothermal spa.
  • Golden Circle: A route featuring geysers, waterfalls, and national parks.

Origin ports:

Activities: Hot springs, glacier tours, and the northern lights. Visit our excursion shop in our Resources section to find the best shore excursions in these destinations.

8. Australia

Start your summer cruise adventure in Sydney, one of the top coolcations summer cruise destinations. Our summer is Australia’s winter, and temperatures are often perfect.

Sydney Opera House

Begin with the stunning harbor, iconic Sydney Opera House, and beautiful beaches. Then, explore the Great Barrier Reef, visit the bustling markets of Melbourne, and take in the natural wonders of Tasmania. Australia offers diverse experiences, from vibrant city life to breathtaking natural beauty, ensuring a lifetime cruise for you and your family.


  • Sydney Opera House: Iconic landmark with stunning architecture.
  • Bondi Beach: World-famous beach with cool waters.
  • Sydney Harbour Bridge: Enjoy scenic views and bridge climbs.

Origin ports:

  • Sydney, Australia
  • Melbourne, Australia
  • Hobert, Tasmania
  • Adelaide, Australia
  • Brisbane, Australia
  • Auckland, New Zealand
Activities: City tours, beach outings, cultural events. Visit our excursion shop in our Resources section to find the best shore excursions in these destinations.

9. The Arctic

The Arctic offers an adventurous expedition cruise and is one of the more unique coolcations summer cruise destinations, with stunning ice landscapes.

Cruises to the Arctic provide unparalleled experiences, from guided hikes on remote islands to visits to Indigenous communities where you can learn about traditional ways of life. By using Zodiacs, exciting shore excursions allow you to navigate through icy waters, get up close to towering glaciers, and spot a variety of wildlife, including seals, whales, and polar bears. This is a once-in-a-lifetime cruise adventure.


  • Svalbard: Remote islands with polar bears and glaciers.
  • Greenland: Vast ice sheets and traditional Inuit culture.
  • Northwest Passage: Historic sea route with breathtaking scenery.

Origin ports:

  • Reykjavik, Iceland
  • Longyearbyen, Norway
  • Aberdeen, U.K
Activities: Wildlife viewing, ice fjord tours, cultural experiences. Visit our excursion shop in our Resources section to find the best shore excursions in these destinations.

10. Copenhagen, Denmark

Copenhagen offers an exciting city experience with cool, pleasant weather. Visit the Tivoli Gardens for fun rides and entertainment, see the famous Little Mermaid statue, and enjoy a stroll along the scenic Nyhavn harbor.

The city is easy to navigate on foot and offers something for everyone, from historical sites to modern attractions. With its welcoming atmosphere and variety of activities for all ages, Copenhagen is the perfect place to begin your cruise adventure.


  • Nyhavn: Iconic waterfront district with colorful buildings.
  • Tivoli Gardens: Historic amusement park with beautiful gardens.
  • The Little Mermaid: Famous statue based on Andersen’s fairy tale.

Origin port:

Activities: City tours, harbor cruises, cultural experiences. Visit our excursion shop in our Resources section to find the best shore excursions in these destinations.

Packing for a Coolcation

When preparing for a Coolcation, it’s essential to pack appropriately for varying weather conditions:

  • Layers: Bring a mixture of light clothing and warmer layers for cooler evenings.
  • Rain Jacket: Waterproof clothing is a must for unexpected showers.
  • Expedition cruises: For an expedition cruise, your cruise line will give you a list of recommended clothes needed for these unique landscapes.
  • Comfortable Footwear: Suitable for walking and exploring. For a detailed packing list, visit our packing list page.

What to Consider Before Booking

Before booking your Coolcation, keep these important tips in mind to ensure a smooth and enjoyable trip:

  • Cruise Itinerary: Choose a cruise that includes ports and activities that excite you and your family. Look for destinations that offer a mix of adventure, culture, and relaxation.
  • Weather: Research the typical weather conditions for your travel dates to pack accordingly and avoid surprises.
  • Travel Insurance: Protect your investment with travel insurance to cover unexpected changes or cancellations.
  • Accessibility: Ensure the origin port is close to an airport that is convenient for you. Consider arriving a few days early to explore the city and ensure you don’t miss the ship.
  • Cruise port guides: We offer comprehensive cruise port guides with recommendations on where to stay, transportation options, and daily itineraries to make your pre-cruise experience seamless.

Coolcations are the perfect solution for travelers seeking a refreshing summer experience. From the glaciers of Alaska to the fjords of Norway, these destinations offer comfort, beauty, and adventure. Plan your next cruise to one of these cool spots and enjoy a summer vacation like no other.

Meet the author: Sarah has created and booked hundreds of travel itineraries for thousands of customers during a career in the travel industry that spans 20 years. Having worked hand in hand with cruise lines, hotels, airlines and tour operators worldwide, she offers inspiring & detailed insights in the world of travel and tourism.

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