When we think of cruising itineraries, we usually think of exploring a new city, town or harbour – but as it’s National Park Week, we thought we’d take a look at some of the best National Parks around the world that you simply HAVE to visit! Offering delights of rural nature, wildlife and even untouched wonders, they’re a far cry from the urban metropolis’s of the crowded city centres…

Cevennes National Parc, France

The Cevennes includes areas of great natural beauty – from a harsh exposed plateau to steep-sided river gorges, and several unspoiled traditional villages. It’s rural France at its best. The park has different characteristics in the north-west and the south-east (either side of the mountains) with the countryside more rugged in the northern part and more Mediterranean in nature towards the south-east. Although there’s a great deal of enjoyment in visiting even if you stay in your car, it’s also amazing to get on foot and explore the wilderness, the rugged terrain, and to hike or cycle through the countryside, or pursue other outdoor activities. The attractive towns of Vigan and Anduze are also at the southern end of the region, which makes it a perfect for cruisers with limited time.

Cevennes is easily accessible from the port of Sete, which is a favourite on many Thomson Cruises, MSC Cruises, P&O Cruises and Fred. Olsen itineraries – you can also get here from Marseille, which is a favourite port of call with most cruise lines!

Joshua Tree National Park, California

Joshua Tree National Park is a vast protected area in southern California. It’s characterised by rugged rock formations and stark desert landscapes. Named for the region’s twisted, bristled Joshua trees, the park straddles the cactus-dotted Colorado Desert and the Mojave Desert, which is higher and cooler. Hiking trails weave through the boulders of Hidden Valley, so pack your hiking boots! The other stars of Joshua Tree are the stars themselves – with no humidity and skies devoid of light pollution, the Milky Way is overwhelmingly vivid. Rock climbers come from all over the world to scale these boulders, but you don’t have to be a pro to have a blast scrambling around this pink granite jungle gym. If you’re really after an adventure, you can keep an eye out for big horned sheep on the 7.2-mile round-trip trail to the Lost Palms Oasis, a strenuous but rewarding hike that follows an ancient Native American footpath to a cool oasis hidden deep in a boulder canyon.

As many of Alaskan and Pacific cruises leave Los Angeles, this national park is perfect to see before or after your cruise. With LA being the west coast cruise hub, you won’t struggle to find an exciting itinerary that docks here. Most find it best to book one a two-night pre-cruise hotel stay to give themselves enough time to see everything the city of angels has to offer!

Table Mountain National Park, Cape Town

Table Mountain is the most iconic landmark of South Africa, as well as the country’s most photographed attraction. Table Mountain has become the single most welcoming icon to not only to the South African people, but with travellers from all over the world. There are over 2,200 species of plants found on Table Mountain and around 1,470 floral species – many of these plants and flowers are endemic to the park and the mountain. At the Boulders, penguins flock all over the place, a truly unique sight in Africa. The flat top peak of the mountain reaches 1,086m above sea level, but being so close to the sea and to the city its features look much more imposing. Besides the mountain, the national park contains another one of South Africa’s attractions – the Cape of Good Hope, the most southern point of the African continent.

Celebrity Cruises®, Fred. Olsen, P&O Cruises and many more set sail on exciting voyages to Cape Town, and if you happen to be on a world cruise – you’re pretty much guaranteed to stop here on the way to the Indian Ocean!

Parque Nacional Tortugeu, Costa Rica

This is one of the few Costa Rican National Parks where walking quietly isn’t necessarily the best way to see things. The marked trail along the beach is used mostly for observing turtle nesting, but the best way to see most of the park is from a boat. That doesn’t mean you can’t get a workout while nature watching – there are plenty of places to rent canoes and kayaks. The exceptionally high rainfall, and rich environment where the freshwater meets the sea makes the beaches, canals, lagoons and wetlands of Tortuguero areas of exceptional biodiversity and an amazing opportunity for nature lovers. The main attraction of Tortuguero National Park is the turtles. The Green Sea Turtles, Leatherback and Hawksbill turtles that nest on the beaches here are a truly spectacular sight.

Often referred to as the happiest country in the world, Costa Rica is a huge hit with holiday makers and cruisers, and the port of Puerto Limon is only a 30-minute bus journey away from the park. From Royal Caribbean to Thomson Cruises, most cruise lines with Caribbean itineraries dock here!

Everglades National Park, Florida

The Everglades is an expansive area of land in south Florida, which consists of 1.5 million acres of wetland. Since the park covers such a large area of south Florida, planning is a must. Take a short walk on the Anhinga Trail to spot abundant wildlife – you could spot turtles, herons and alligators! Climb atop Shark Valley’s 65-foot observation tower for a bird’s eye view of the glades. Glide over Florida Bay by tour boat or kayak for a chance to glimpse a crocodile, manatee, or dolphin. Watch as the sun sets over Flamingo, the southernmost point in mainland Florida. You can explore the pinelands by bike, paddle amongst the mangroves on Nine-Mile Pond, or tour the historic Nike Hercules missile base. Join a ranger on a slough slog deep into the heart of a cypress dome – with countless opportunities this natural wonder really is an adventure that’s right for you!

Extremely accessible from Fort Lauderdale, Miami, and Orlando the vast everglades are not hard to find or get to! With this part of the world being highly popular for Caribbean cruises, there’s no shortage of cruise lines that explore this region of the world!

Time to set sail?

If you’re yet to book your next cruise, take a look at our latest deals by clicking here – you’re sure to find that sailing you’ve been dreaming of! Or simply call our friendly team of cruise experts on 0800 027 8302 – they’ll have you heading to some picturesque parks in no time!

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