Whether your sights are set on exploring idyllic Caribbean islands or venturing into the wilds of Alaska, you can cross off one destination and adventure after the next on a cruise. You can even sail around the world—literally. Take it from Hotel Director Philip Ashcroft, who has been to hundreds of places in his 30 years at sea. In fact, his next great adventure is the world’s longest cruise: the Ultimate World Cruise, a 274-night experience to more than 150 destinations in 65 countries, on Serenade of the Seas that begins December 2023.
To inspire your next vacation, Philip shared his favorite places, things to do and dishes to try in places around the world. Keep reading for tips that cover popular and lesser-known destinations, from Greenland to Peru.
Q: Living and working at sea pretty much since 1990 must have afforded you many unique experiences. What have been some of the most memorable?
Philip: I have so many memorable moments, though, ringing in the New Year in Sydney is up there. It was just an incredible celebration, as was Carnival in Rio de Janeiro. And Antarctica, wow! That continent is untouched—just a great place for adventure. Simple things like watching the sunset at sea are just as special, too.
Q: Take us around the world with your tips, starting with the Americas. What are some places you would recommend travelers visit in this part of the world?
Philip: I’m fortunate to have visited many parts of the Americas, and have very fond memories of Peru, especially Machu Picchu. It’s so beautiful—Peru is my favorite country in South America. That said, I would love the chance to revisit Iguazu Falls on the border of Argentina and Brazil. It was just incredible to take a helicopter above the falls, which seem endless and so beautifully powerful.
Q: You’ve also frequently visited Asia. Do you have a favorite place or two at the top of your list?
Philip: Ho Chi Minh, Vietnam, is my favorite. The locals are amazing, the food is sensational, and the craziness of the traffic is just an exciting experience. And the Taj Mahal in India is a once-in-a-lifetime sight that is very special and might bring a tear to your eye. It did for me, it’s really moving.
Q: Are there unexpected cities that you recommend travelers should visit?
Philip: Kotor, Montenegro, is a historic city on the Adriatic coastline—I highly recommend hiking to St. John’s Fortress for breathtaking views of the city and your ship down below. Tallinn, Estonia, is underrated if you ask me. It’s steeped in history and just beautiful to walk around. The locals really go out of their way to make you feel welcome. And this is a country, but Greenland is also a unique place to visit that people may not immediately think of. It has a way of life that’s just so different from what most of us are used to.
Q: For those who love history, which iconic landmark would you suggest they visit first?
Philip: In addition to Machu Picchu, I’d say Petra, a famous archaeological site and once a capital city in the desert of Jordan, is a must. Be prepared: It’s hotter than hot can be there.
Q: Food is such a central part of experiencing new cultures. Any must-try dishes you’ve had on your travels?
Philip: I love Peruvian food, especially ceviche (typically raw fish cured in fresh citrus juice), so that’s a must in South America. One of my favorite dishes on the planet is char kway teow, a rice noodle dish you can find at hawker food stalls in Penang, Malaysia. I also love Greek food—give me some feta cheese and taramasalata (a fish roe dip) with my salad and I’m happy!
Q: What are the places that you want to visit for the first time?
Q: Any other unforgettable experiences on a cruise that guests should get excited about?
Philip: Sailing in and out of New York City is pretty moving. Sailing past the Statue of Liberty and then visiting Manhattan is special, particularly for those of us who are used to living in a more rural area.
Q: Traveling the world and engaging with other cultures is such a gift if you have the opportunity. You would know. Any final thoughts?
Philip: I feel so lucky to have traveled the world and spent quality time in so many magical places. If today’s me was able to write a letter to my 19-year-old self about all the adventures that lay ahead, I’m pretty sure his head would have just exploded in teenage disbelief!
Wherever you want to go and whatever you want to see, you have more than 240 destinations to choose from—as well as 26 action-packed Royal Caribbean ships that will take you there.
Ready to visit hundreds of places around the world like Philip? Find your Royal Caribbean cruise here.