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  • 20
  • Dec
  • 2012

What is a UNESCO World Heritage Site?

If you’ve been thinking about taking a European river cruise or an exciting Alaskan cruise for some time, you may have come across the acronym UNESCO but have been unsure about what exactly it means. UNESCO stands for the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization, and it is an agency within the United Nations system.

The overarching goal of UNESCO, according to the organization itself, is to contribute to peace and security in the world by furthering collaboration between nations in certain disciplines. These include education, science, and most importantly for the travel industry, culture.

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To promote interest in world culture, UNESCO designates certain sites or natural landmarks as World Heritage Sites for what it calls their “outstanding universal value.”

In total, more than 960 World Heritage Sites have been commemorated the world over. These include 745 cultural sites, 188 natural sites and 29 mixed sites that don’t fit easily into either category. The purpose of this designation is to encourage more visitors to embark on trips to these locations and to help support their preservation.

For instance, you’re likely familiar with many of the World Heritage Sites in the United States. Notable sites include obvious mentions, like the Statue of Liberty, Yellowstone National Park and Grand Canyon National Park.

However, the list also includes less well-known locations like the University of Virginia in Charlottesville, which was designed by President Thomas Jefferson, and the Carlsbad Caverns National Park in New Mexico.

If you’ve been to any of these sites, you are doubtless aware that they are prime attractions for visitors. As a result, when you see a UNESCO designation on a cruise or travel itinerary you can be sure that this spot will provide you with educational value, natural beauty or an adventure to make your trip memorable.

Learn more about UNESCO sites, and see an interactive map of all the current locations. If you’d like more information on cruises or cruise tours that visit UNESCO World Heritage Sites, please feel free to check us out online at or give us a call at 1-888-804-2784. Our experienced travel agents will be happy to answer all your questions and help you check off another destination from your bucket list!

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