For lovers of history, art and natural wonders alike, UNESCO (aka the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization) World Heritage Sites often are must-see destinations on any vacation. UNESCO designates unique places as World Heritage Sites when they have “outstanding universal value” and special cultural, artistic, historical or ecological significance.
There are more than 1,100 of these wonders today, and they’re located around the world. Whether in the Caribbean, Europe, Asia-Pacific or beyond, you can check off several of the renowned sites on your travel list by taking a Royal Caribbean cruise. And if you want to go all-in, there’s even the Ultimate World Cruise, which visits all seven continents and more than 150 destinations in 274 nights.
Where to start? We’ve highlighted seven World Heritage Sites and world wonders you can take in on a cruise:
Bridgetown and the Garrison
Find it in: Bridgetown, Barbados
What to know: Bridgetown is the capital and the largest city of Barbados, an island that spans about 21 miles. It’s known for striking 17th-century British colonial architecture, reflected in its Parliament Buildings. Among the many sites that guests and natives flock to in the city is the well-preserved Garrison, which was established in 1780 as the military headquarters for imperial forces—they were stationed there until 1905. Today, it’s the home of the Barbados Defence Force. There are also various churches in Barbados that are UNESCO World Heritage Sites, like St. Mary’s Anglican Church and the Cathedral Church of Saint Michael and All Angels.
See it: Catch a glimpse of Bridgetown and all it has to offer, like good food, culture and nightlife, on a cruise to and from Barbados.
The Colosseum and Circus Maximus
Find it in: Rome, Italy
What to know: When you think of Rome, one of the first cultural images that may come to mind is the famous Colosseum. It was an epicenter during the time of the Roman Empire, hosting about 50,000 spectators for ancient forms of entertainment, such as gladiator games and mock naval battles. Nearby is Circus Maximus, which preceded the Colosseum in 6th century B.C. There you can learn about the chariot racing, plays and other events that took place at this iconic landmark.
See it: Get to Rome and visit other rich destinations along the way on a Mediterranean cruise aboard a ship like Odyssey of the Seas. You can get into more culture and history, and see other sites like the Acropolis of Athens in Greece.
The Temple of Artemis
Find it in: Ephesus, Turkey
What to know: At 350 feet by 180 feet, this marvel is something history buffs should see. In ancient times, more specifically 550 B.C., the stone structure was dedicated to Artemis, the Greek goddess of the hunt and wild animals. It was built by Croesus, king of Lydia, and then rebuilt after it was burned down by a man named Herostratus in 356 B.C. Unfortunately, it was burnt down yet again later on. You can take a guided excursion to absorb the full scope of the temple’s beauty and history.
See it: Check out cruises to the Mediterranean and the Middle East to visit this historic site, as well as other wonders like the Pyramids of Giza in Egypt, on adventures like the Ultimate World Cruise.
Find it in: Cozumel, Mexico
What to know: Chichen Itza is best known for its unique pyramid-shaped architecture, with its most iconic feature being a nearly 100-foot-tall stepped pyramid, El Castillo (The Castle). At one point long ago, Chichen Itza was a Mayan city on the Yucatan Peninsula in Mexico—now, it stands as one of the new seven wonders of the world, an archaeological site and a popular destination in Cozumel.
See it: Discover the history and stunning architecture of Chichen Itza on a cruise to Mexico—while there, be sure to also see the largest and best-preserved Mayan ballpark and the mystical sacrificial cenotes.
Works of Antoni Gaudi
Find it in: Barcelona, Spain
What to know: Barcelona in Spain is home to many works of art by many greats, including the timeless pieces found at the Picasso Museum. One of the artists who stand out in this charming coastal city is Antoni Gaudi. Gaudi’s work can be found throughout, from Park Guell to Casa Batllo, to Casa Vicens (his first home in Barcelona) and La Sagrada Familia. His works are described as colorful and quirky, with mosaics that tend to demonstrate his talents as both an artist and architect.
See it: Explore Gaudi’s work before or after a Mediterranean cruise from Barcelona. You can also head to other World Heritage Sites in the general area, like the Spanish monastery Montserrat.
Pro tip: Want to see Barcelona on the greatest adventure yet? The new Wonder of the Seas, soon to be the world’s largest cruise ship, is set to sail from this beloved city in summer 2022.
The Great Barrier Reef
Find it in: Cairns, Australia
What to know: Set out to explore Australia’s Great Barrier Reef—the only living thing on the planet that’s visible from space. As the world’s largest coral reef system, this natural wonder is home to more than 1,500 different species of fish, 400 species of coral, six of the seven species of marine turtles and more. It’s a beautiful sight to behold, whether you choose to dive in on a guided experience or take it in from ashore.
See it: Check out the Ultimate World Cruise, and other Royal Caribbean cruises, for an opportunity to see this oceanic marvel. You can also visit other incredible sites in Australia, like the Sydney Opera House and the deserts of Australia’s Outback.
Everglades National Park
Find it in: Miami, Florida
What to know: Calling all nature lovers: Everglades National Park is perfect for those looking to take in an incredible view, relax on a walk, a kayak or an airboat, and learn more about the environment and endangered species. This 1.5 million-acre UNESCO World Heritage Site is a wetlands preserve that boasts marshes, or a “river of grass” as some have dubbed it. It’s home to many endangered wildlife species, like the leatherback turtle and West Indian manatee.
See it: Explore the section of the Everglades in Miami, where you can also start your vacation with Royal Caribbean and visit other destinations like The Bahamas and picturesque Caribbean islands.
Ready to start expanding your travel horizons? Check out these recognized gems, wonders and more on a cruise.