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25 of the world’s best cruise experiences

With incredible options like these to choose from, it’s time to start planning your next cruising adventure. Joanna Tovia has rounded up some of the world’s best cruise experiences on offer between now and 2020.

1. Lindblad Expeditions

7 days, Galapagos Islands

The 48-guest National Geographic Islander offers an action-packed week of hikes, kayaking, paddleboarding and snorkelling for a rich and diverse experience of Darwin’s famed archipelago. The shortened Wild Galapagos Escape itinerary includes close encounters with wildlife – giant tortoises, pink flamingoes, blue-footed boobies – with
expert guides by your side. Departures April to May and August to November.

2. Viking Cruises

245 days, London roundtrip

This trip of a lifetime – the longest world voyage – takes in 113 cities and ports in 59 countries on six continents in a circumnavigation of the globe on board Viking Sun. The Ultimate World Cruise includes overnight stays in 23 destinations, breaking up nights on board. Lodgings are luxurious and the 930-guest ship offers ample entertainment, activity, wellness and dining options. Departs 31 August 2019.

3. Regent Seven Seas Cruises

16 nights, Miami to Los Angeles

After her first transatlantic voyage in February 2020, Seven Seas Splendor will depart Miami for LA via the Panama Canal. Among the eight ports on the way are Cartagena, Colombia and Cabo San Lucas, Mexico. The all-suite, all-balcony Seven Seas Splendor can accommodate up to 750 guests. Departs 25 February 2020. The return journey, departing 14 March, stops at Catalina Island, Acapulco and Puntarenas, Costa Rica.

4. Crystal Cruises

13 days, Fort Lauderdale to New Orleans

Crystal Symphony’s Island Rhythms & Big Easy Jazz immerses music-lovers in the world of jazz with live performances and enriching lectures before arriving in New Orleans. Diving, hiking and snorkelling are on offer on the way to the fun-filled jazz capital, or just sit back and take in the tunes. Crystal Symphony is more luxurious than ever, having undergone a makeover in 2017. Departs 2 December 2018.

World's best cruise experiences ponant

Le Ponant discovers the Cape Verde islands © Philippe & Guillaume Plisson

5. Ponant

8 days, roundtrip from Praia, Cape Verde

Portuguese, African and Mediterranean influences converge in the Cape Verde islands off the northwest coast of Africa. On board the beautiful Le Ponant sailing yacht, where 32 staterooms are decked out in blue and white, guests can feel at one with the ocean. The cruise takes guests to uncrowded island ports for a taste of life in this stunning part of the world. Departs 10 November 2018.

6. Aurora Expeditions

24 days, Longyearbyen to Reykjavik

From Longyearbyen on the island of Spitsbergen in Norway’s north this cruise aboard the 54-passenger vessel Polar Pioneer offers the chance to spot walruses, polar bears and reindeer along a coastline of calving glaciers and towering cliffs before crossing the Greenland Sea. Expeditions depart July/August 2018, 2019 and 2020.

7. Scenic

15 days, Athens to Venice

Scenic Eclipse, touted as the world’s first six-star Discovery Yacht, will take 228 guests from Athens via the Greek islands, Turkey and Croatia to Venice, Italy. Walking and ebike tours, wine tastings, private concerts and helicopter excursions await. On board, expect the elegance you’d find in a chic boutique hotel. The Penthouse Suite has a 60
square-metre curved terrace with a private Jacuzzi. Departs 11 May 2020.

8. Tauck

11 days, Munich to Vienna

For the past 400 years, every 10 years, some 2,000 local residents of the little Bavarian village of Oberammergau join forces to perform the now world-famous Passionsspiele (Passion Play), a dramatic recreation of Jesus Christ’s last days on Earth. The new Danube Reflections experience includes a seven-night river
cruise with excursions in Germany, Czech Republic, Slovakia and Austria, and includes premier seating at the Passionsspiele. Departure dates from 7 June 2020.

9. Avalon Waterways

2–19 days, 14 Christmas cruise options

If the idea of shopping for hand-crafted gifts, fresh gingerbread and a festive atmosphere appeals, a river cruise taking in Europe’s Christmas markets will feel like a dream. Avalon Waterways offers a range of options, including the 12-day Basel to Prague cruise, which takes in the Black Forest (home of cherry cake and cuckoo clocks) and Christmas markets in Nuremburg and Prague. Christmas cruises depart November–December.

10. Silversea Expeditions

12 days, Dublin to London
This voyage aboard Silver Cloud Expedition will see travellers delving into the history and wildlife of Scotland and England. Spot the Atlantic puffin on the Isle of Lunga and explore the Orkneys before journeying across the spectacular Scottish Highlands by train in search of castles, including royal summer home, Balmoral Castle. Walk the cobblestone streets of York before sailing south for London. Departs 23 May 2019.

11. Seabourn

21 days, Stockholm to Copenhagen

The St Petersburg & Scandinavian Gems voyage from Sweden to Denmark is part of the maiden season of Seabourn’s newest ship, the 600-passenger Seabourn Ovation, which includes a three-day stay in St Petersburg. Estonia, Finland and Norway are also on the itinerary, including sea days with time to marvel at the otherworldly Nordfjord glaciers, mountains and fjords. Departs 29 June 2019.

12. The Ritz-Carlton Yacht Collection

7 nights, Monte-Carlo to Barcelona

This maiden voyage marks the Ritz-Carlton’s first foray into yachting. Just 298 guests will set sail along the Côte d’Azur from Monaco, taking in the exclusive towns and charming villages that make the area such a celebrity drawcard. You’ll also drop anchor at Saint-Tropez, colourful Sète in France, and the tranquil Bay of Roses in Spain, savouring menus inspired by local cultural traditions. Departs 7 June 2020.

13. Quark Expeditions

18 days, Ushuaia roundtrip

The Falklands (Malvinas) and South Georgia: Islands of the Southern Ocean expedition gives adventure-seekers the chance to follow in the footsteps of legendary explorer Sir Ernest Shackleton. Discover abundant wildlife and wild island landscapes, including a visit to one of the largest king penguin rookeries in the world. Ocean Adventurer carries 132 guests in comfort to an unspoiled area of the world. Departs 22 November 2018.

14. Celebrity Cruises

9 nights, Rome roundtrip

Celebrity Edge is the first in a new line of futuristic cruise ships designed to push the envelope in design and onboard technology. The Magic Carpet, for example, is a moveable cantilevered platform that allows guests to feel as if they are soaring over the open ocean. Departing Rome on 10 August 2019, she will stop at Naples, Barcelona, Monaco and Florence, with excursions exploring sights, tastes and cultural attractions.

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Marina dinner with Paul Gauguin Cruises

15. Paul Gauguin Cruises

11 nights, Tahiti roundtrip

The Cook Islands & Society Islands voyage journeys from Rarotonga and the coral reef-lined lagoon of Aitutaki to Bora Bora and Moorea. Paul Gauguin caters for up to 332 guests, and passengers also have access to the company’s two exclusive retreats: Motu Mahana off the island of Taha’a and a private beach in Bora Bora. Select departures between March and November 2019.

16. Ponant 

11 days, Seychelles to Sri Lanka

The first ship in Ponant’s Explorer series has arrived, with a further five sister ships scheduled to join the fleet by 2021. Le Lapérouse is the first ship to be equipped with Blue Eye, a multi-sensory underwater lounge. The 92-stateroom ship will sail from Victoria on the island of Mahé to Sri Lanka via the Maldives. Departs 11 December 2018.

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Viking Sun returns to the fjords of Norway © Viking Cruises

17. Viking Cruises

15 days, Bergen to Basel

Taking in 15 ports in six countries, Rhine & Viking Shores & Fjords combines an ocean cruise through Norway and Denmark with an eight-day river cruise. Visit a Danish fishing village before disembarking Viking Sun in Amsterdam and drifting down the Rhine, past Dutch windmills, German castles and French vineyards. Departs 2 June 2019.

18. SeaDream Yacht Club

7 days, Puerto Rico roundtrip 

Celebrate Christmas in the Caribbean aboard SeaDream II, a 56-stateroom yacht with 95 officers and crew to take care of your every whim. Travel through the French West Indies to Tortola Island, where you’ll welcome Christmas Day swimming with dolphins, before continuing to Norman Island. Add in turkey with all the trimmings for a holiday in style. Departs 20 December 2018.

19. Azamara Cruises

18 days, Buenos Aires roundtrip

This journey to Antarctica and back takes its adventurous guests from cosmopolitan Buenos Aires down to the southernmost and on to the Antarctic Peninsula. New, boutique-sized ship Azamara Pursuit was designed to suit the needs of modern explorers, with enrichment programs, spa and fitness facilities on board. Departs 6
January 2019.

20. Uniworld 

12 days, New Delhi to Kolkata

The enriching ME to WE & The Sacred Ganges cruise and tour combines a four-day sustainable-development project in rural India with an eight-day cruise. The
ME to WE experience includes visits to local villages, sunrise yoga and volunteer work, then step aboard the lavish Ganges Voyager II to discover temples, artisan villages and Mother Teresa’s home and museum. The cruise is limited to 56 guests. Departures from 4 January 2019.

21. Hapag-Lloyd Cruises

18 days, Tokyo to Singapore

MS Europa 2 will head to Japan via Vietnam for the first time in 2019, with an itinerary taking in Tokyo, Toba (on the Shima Peninsula), Naha (the largest city in Okinawa) and Ishigaki (Japan’s southernmost city). The five-star-plus-rated accommodations range from verandah suites to family apartments and penthouse suites. Casual luxury with a focus on wellness is the philosophy on board. Departs 8 May 2019.


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Amandira hosts diving expeditions in the Raja Ampat islands

22. Amandira

5 nights, Indonesia

A traditional two-masted sailing ship, Amandira sails from the exclusive Amanwana tented resort on Moyo Island to Komodo National Park and around the Raja Ampat islands. Life aboard the 10-guest ship centres around the foredeck, just the spot for sunset cocktails. State-of-the-art Nitrox dive equipment is on board for divers of all experience levels. Raja Ampat Expeditions depart 5 December 2018, 2 March 2019 and 9 March 2019.

23. Oceania Cruises

30 days, Dubai to Cape Town

This standout cruise takes up to 684 guests through the Arabian Sea and Indian Ocean on board the newly refurbished Nautica. With neoclassical furnishings, teak decks and a convivial atmosphere, this cruise is as much about taking it easy as it is about exploring exciting ports in Oman, the Seychelles, India and Africa on the way to Cape
Town. Departs 6 December 2018 and 7 December 2019.

24. Seabourn

22 days, Auckland to Sydney

The Landfalls of Captain Cook cruise invites guests to discover the wonders of their own backyard on a route sailed by the well-known explorer. From Auckland, the 458-guest Seabourn Soujourn sails to New Caledonia, Vanuatu and the Solomon Islands and on to Australia via Papua New Guinea. The all-suite ship offers gourmet dining, onboard entertainment and two swimming pools. Departs 19 November 2018.

25. Regent Seven Seas Cruises

67 nights, Sydney to Shanghai

Cruise from Sydney up the east coast to Cairns before venturing offshore to explore fascinating ports of call in Cambodia, Vietnam, Thailand and Myanmar. The refurbished Seven Seas Mariner is home for the first 52 nights, followed by a 15-night experience from Hong Kong to Shanghai, including a four-night cruise on China’s Yangtze River. Departs 20 January 2019.

This article originally appeared in volume 30 of Signature Luxury Travel & Style. To subscribe to the latest issue, click here.

Lead image: Wildlife galore on a Lindblad Galapagos cruise © David Vargas.


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