Cruise ship docked in a Caribbean port.

It's summer, and you're ready for a nice long vacation. You can choose a popular summer cruise to the Bahamas or the Caribbean, but just watch out for hordes of kids and pesky hurricanes. The Mediterranean might call, but you'll be fighting the heat and the crowds of European and international vacationers.

Don't fear; there are other destinations that are best experienced mid-June through mid-September. Here are our picks for the five best summer cruises.

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Holland America Line ship cruising Glacier Bay in Alaska.

1. Alaska

You can only cruise to Alaska during the spring and summer months; the season starts in May and ends in September. If you're a fan of awe-inspiring glaciers, wildlife (think whales and eagles), fascinating history and adventurous activities like ziplining and hiking, head north this summer. Ketchikan is dubbed the "Rain Capital of Alaska," and the forecast can be chilly and wet, but many cruise travelers are pleasantly surprised to encounter warm weather and sunny days on Alaska cruises. (And don't forget about cruisetours. Alaska's interior can be exceptionally mild and dry.)


St. Petersburg in Russia.

2. Baltic

If you want to see Europe without the record-breaking high temperatures, a Baltic cruise can be the perfect summer sailing. You'll visit the major cities of Scandinavia and Russia -- highlights typically include an overnight or two in St. Petersburg -- with a few days in between for relaxing onboard. These cruises aren't for travelers who just want to relax, however. You'll be on the go every day, so pack your best walking shoes, and prepare to explore.


The colorful village of Flatts, Bermuda.

3. Bermuda

If golf, beaches, shopping or naval history is your thing, choose a Bermuda cruise when the weather is warm. Most ships will spend one or two nights docked in port, giving you plenty of time to experience the island and enjoy the nightlife. Bermuda is a good choice for travelers who want to mix sightseeing and active pursuits with sunbathing. Just be warned that hurricanes do occasionally cross the island's path.


The Pitons in the Southern Caribbean's St. Lucia.

4. Southern Caribbean

The quintessential Caribbean cruise is always a great summer choice, but if you want to reduce your risk of running into a hurricane, head south. The Southern Caribbean islands experience storms less frequently than the Western or Eastern Caribbean islands, and they still provide island favorites like white-sand beaches, fantastic snorkeling and diving, and delicious seafood and other regional specialties. Fewer ships head that way, so the crowds aren't quite as bad, either. Just note that these tropical islands can be hot in the summertime; it's not the choice for those looking for a mild-weather getaway.


A cruise ship sailing the Arctic Circle.

5. Arctic

Want some adventure this summer and don't mind the cold? Grab a parka and your camera, and sign up for a cruise north of the Arctic Circle. You'll be rewarded with endless sunlight, views of wildlife (polar bears, reindeer and more) and unique landscapes. You'll only find sailings June through September, and if you want to go as far north as you can, stick with July and August when the ice retreats. Mainstream cruise lines do bring their creature comforts to the icy North, but opt for a more bare-bones expedition vessel if you want to push farther with a crew of naturalists.