Best ports of call

(Photo: Shwedagon Pagoda in Myanmar via Shutterstock)

With cruise ships adding so many bells and whistles, it's easy to forget that one of the best parts of cruising is getting off the ship. In 2013, the best ports of call follow some exciting trends.

Caribbean destinations might still be the most visited, but multiple new sailings offer a wide array of unique, eclectic stops in other exciting destinations. Think riverside metropolises, Down Under adventures, and explorations in the East, both Near and Far.

Myanmar (Burma)

Rudyard Kipling said it was "quite unlike any land you know about," but thanks to recent democratic reforms and the easing of U.S. sanctions, Myanmar (formerly Burma) is slowly becoming more accessible to Western travelers.

While organizing independent travel may still be difficult, a river cruise offers the convenience of a planned itinerary. Orient-Express, Pandaw, and Azamara Club Cruises all have itineraries that include a call in former capital Yangon (Rangoon). Here, in this city of some five million people, you can explore bustling open-air markets and the gilded Shwedagon Pagoda that rises over the vibrant, frenetic city, then float up the Irrawaddy River toward modern Mandalay.

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