From Los Angeles south to the Mexican Riviera, or from San Francisco or Seattle north toward Alaska, the Pacific side of the U.S. and Canada holds a wealth of fascinating cities and gorgeous natural wonders. The variety of cruises to choose from is also vast, whether you have a couple of days or more than a week. Many are repositioning cruises for ships moving between seasons in Alaska and the Caribbean, Mexico, or the Panama Canal. Short jaunts from LA visit Ensenada, Mexico, or Catalina Island or Santa Barbara, California, while small ships focus on areas farther north, such as Washington’s San Juan Islands.
What We Love
Kayaking: Small ship lines offer plenty of active excursions in places like the San Juan Islands and Canada’s Harmony and Gulf Islands, where bird life and whales are easy to spot.
Convenience: If you live near a major city on the West Coast of the U.S., it’s easy to hop on one of these cruises and get out of town to see some impressive nature, sip wine, or sprawl on the beach.
Best Known For
Natural Beauty: The endless acres of forest along the coast of Northern California and up to British Columbia are a breath of fresh air, while Mexico’s beaches beckon you to relax.
Shop for Cruises
Victoria, Vancouver Island, Canada: This is one of the friendliest and prettiest places you’ll ever visit, where baskets of posies hang from lampposts and everyone says hello with a big smile. Join a bus tour near the cruise docks to see lovely Victorian mansions and hop out at Mount Tolmie for panoramic views.
San Diego: The wide white-sand beaches, that great zoo, and the clean, fresh air make this seaside city one of America’s favorites.
San Francisco: Ride the historic tram lines up and down the hilly city and have lunch in one of the seafood restaurants at Fisherman’s Wharf. A windy boat trip to the famed Alcatraz prison is another must-do (even if you don’t get off the boat).
Don't Say We Didn't Warn You
Fickle Weather in the North: It’s downright cold in the San Francisco Bay area even in July, when it routinely dips into the low 50s (blame the funky wind currents). And rain is common from northern California on up the coast, so be prepared.
Heidi Sarna is a Singapore-based contributor to ShermansCruise who has also written for Condé Nast Traveler and USA Today.