We’re willing to bet, no matter what you might think about cruising, that there is A Perfect Cruise out there for you. After all, the nearly 22 million people who took a cruise last year can’t all be crazy, can they?
And, with new ships popping up across the world’s oceans and rivers like the daffodils in our hedgerows, travellers have a greater range of ships, destinations and options to choose from than ever before.
While exciting and liberating, this flourishing cruise world can also be bewildering, particularly to the uninitiated. Should you select a voyage based on the cruise line, the ship, the ports of call or what’s included in your fare?
Do you appease your teenagers with a Mediterranean cruise aboard Royal Caribbean’s all-singing, all-dancing Quantum class mega-ships or surprise your husband with a journey to the Antarctic aboard the plush Regent Seven Seas Explorer, due to launch next summer?
You could treat yourself to a girlie spa and shopping break in the United Arab Emirates aboard Celebrity Cruises Constellation or a romantic river cruise along the Danube on Uniworld’s brand new supership SS Maria Theresa. Engage your inner Française with a Mediterranean jaunt aboard Ponant’s chic new ship Le Lyrial or fly the Union Jack with pride aboard P&O’s new Britannia, a celebration of the best of British with chefs James Martin, Marco Pierre White and Atul Kochhar and wine buff Olly Smith all delivering a culinary punch.
Go on, admit that you’re impressed… Next year will see even more new ships hitting the Seven Seas, from the launch of Royal Caribbean’s third 5,400-passenger Oasis class ship to Uniworld’s 56-passenger Ganges Voyager II.
This wave of new ships is not only ushering in unprecedented levels of luxury and opening up niche destinations but is also making cruising ever easier and more appealing for families, active types, the culturally curious and solo travellers.
Whether you’re a veteran or virgin cruiser, you can’t fail to find a voyage that will tempt you out onto the water over the coming months, particularly as we’ve done the hard work for you, picking out the very best cruises for each month of the year.
Why not start the year as you mean to go on: exploring some of the planet’s most remote and dramatic shores.
For just a few fleeting weeks each year, during the Austral summer, over 5,000 acres of sea ice melts in the Antarctic Circle, making it the only time the waters are navigable by ship.
Sailing in January 2016, your 16-day adventure starts with a night in Buenos Aires before you fly to Ushuaia, the southernmost tip of Argentina, where the Andes meet the Southern Ocean, to board the expedition ship MS Fram.
From here you’ll navigate the notoriously treacherous Drake Passage (cross fingers for Drake Lake rather than Drake Shake), learning about Antarctica’s extraordinary wildlife and history from the expedition team as you sail.
With a full week to discover this pristine Antarctic environment there’ll be kayak trips to bond with penguins and seals, snowshoeing expeditions across the great white desert and even the chance to sleep ashore in a tent. You’ll fall under the spell of the South Shetland Islands, marvel at the icebergs that clog the narrow Errera Channel and spot Minke whales in Neko Harbour.