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The top 20 cruise itineraries for 2020/2021

The top 20 cruise itineraries for 2020/2021

The steamer trunks may have disappeared, along with the hat boxes, white tails and smoking jackets, but a new golden age of luxury cruising – with a thoroughly modern twist – has dawned. And the world’s best cruise lines offer an ocean of choice.

First and foremost

The excitement of sailing on board a liner’s maiden voyage is like no other, and the new Seven Seas Splendor will rise to the occasion when she embarks on her highly anticipated inaugural cruise from Barcelona in February 2020. The all-suite, all-balcony ship blends luxury with elegance, comfort and personalised service. The 14-night ‘Splendor at Sea’ cruise will explore some of Europe’s most beautiful cities, including Seville and Madeira, before repositioning to Miami, Florida. All-inclusive fares start from $8,840 a person, including unlimited shore excursions, premium wines and spirits, specialty restaurants and onboard internet. “Perfecting luxury is about obsessing over large and small details,” says Regent Seven Seas Cruises President and CEO Jason Montague. “With its all-suite guest accommodations, an expansive passenger-to-space ratio and an exceptionally low guest-to-crew ratio, Seven Seas Splendor will be one of the world’s most spacious, intimate and beautiful ships ever to sail the globe.”

A bounty of discovery

Follow in the wake of HMS Bounty on board Aranui Cruises’ memorable ‘Pitcairn Discovery’ voyage across French Polynesia to one of the most remote islands on the planet. The 250-guest mixed cargo and passenger vessel Aranui 5 anchored in Bounty Bay for the first time on 15 January 2019, and popular demand has already seen a 2020 departure planned for 11 April. The journey is a 13-day round trip from Papeete in Tahiti, and travellers will explore Pitcairn Island with descendants of Bounty mutineers, Fletcher Christian and John Adams, and experience the far-flung archipelagos of the Gambier and Austral islands.

cruise itineraries in 2019
© Lionel Gouverneur

Romance on the Rhine

One of Europe’s legendary rivers awaits travellers on Avalon Waterways’ exciting ‘Romantic Rhine’ journey, a relaxed eight-day cruise beginning in Switzerland and visiting France, Germany and the Netherlands. An array of sailing dates is on offer in 2020 on board the new Avalon View (launching 2020), Avalon Imagery II or Avalon Expression, all of which are suite ships. Highlights include a day excursion to Germany’s Black Forest, Heidelberg Castle, wine tasting in Rüdesheim and passing through the dramatic Rhine Gorge, dotted with ancient castles perched on cliffs 120 metres above the water.

cruise itineraries in 2019

Islands in the sun

Artist Paul Gauguin captured the essence of French Polynesia in his masterpieces, and now you can create your own memories on a voyage with Paul Gauguin Cruises. The MS Paul Gauguin was purpose-built for cruising these beautiful islands, and with 217 crew (many of them local) attending to only 332 guests, you’ll enjoy an immersive experience complete with private motus. In addition to its signature seven-night sailings in the Islands of Tahiti, Paul Gauguin Cruises offers three longer cruises in the South Pacific and Asia in 2020.

A 13-night voyage to the Society Islands, Cook Islands, Tonga and Fiji departs on 28 March; a 16-night Fiji to Bali cruise departs on 11 April; and a 12-night sailing departing 6 June visits Fiji, Tonga, the Cook Islands and Society Islands.

cruise itineraries in 2019
cruise itineraries in 2019

A grand European voyage

Cruiseco, the largest distributor of cruise product in the Southern Hemisphere, is offering four stunning back-to-back cruises from the Mediterranean to the Baltic in one ‘European Grand Voyage’ with Azamara. Departing Athens on 9 May 2020, the 46-night voyage to Copenhagen is an opportunity to experience the entire Azamara fleet, including a nine-night cruise to Barcelona, followed by a five-night round trip from Barcelona on Azamara Journey; a 13-night sailing from Barcelona to Southampton on Azamara Quest; and a 15-night voyage to Copenhagen on Azamara Pursuit.

cruise itineraries in 2019
© Shutterstock/Oleg Voronische

It’s crystal clear

Explore Europe’s best-loved rivers aboard one of Crystal’s ultra-luxurious river-yachts, the 106-guest Crystal Mahler. The 16-night ‘Grand Europe’ journey cruises leisurely along the Rhine, Main and Danube, visiting the capital cities and charming historic villages of the Netherlands, Germany, Austria, Slovakia and Hungary. The Crystal River Experience offers all-inclusive luxury while on board, featuring all-suite guest accommodation; butler service for every suite; sophisticated in-suite technologies including a bedside iPad directory; extensive music library; complimentary internet; Michelin-inspired dining paired with unlimited fine wines and premium spirits; and an array of curated adventures ashore.

From east to west

East meets west on an extraordinary voyage from Vancouver to Tokyo in August 2020 on Viking CruisesViking Orion, crossing the North Pacific from Canada to Japan via Russia. Cruise through the glacier-dotted waters of the Inside Passage to Alaska before crossing the Bering Sea to the remote Kamchatka Peninsula. Discover a fascinating blend of Japanese and Russian heritage at Korsakov on Sakhalin Island, the country’s largest island, then arrive in Sapporo for an overnight stay and an intimate encounter with Hokkaido’s culture, before ending your voyage amid the neon lights and ancient shrines of Tokyo.

Three degrees of separation

Bucket List 2020 inspiration doesn’t come any better than a trio of all-inclusive luxury cruises to Japan, Greece and Italy being offered by Abercrombie & Kent. The alluring ‘Wonders of Japan’ voyage is an exclusive A&K charter on board Le Soléal – with room for no more than 199 guests – offering an immersive cultural experience in Osaka, Kyoto, Hiroshima and Kanazawa in Japan, and Gyeongju in South Korea. The cruise dates are 13–26 June and fares are from $23,905 a person twin-share. An equally fascinating cruise in the Greek Islands – visiting Crete, Santorini, Rhodes and Mykonos, as well as the lesser-known Symi, Delos and Syros islands – sets sail on board Le Bougainville, with numbers limited to 148 passengers, from 23 September to 2 October with fares from $15,210 a person twin-share. And a luxe ‘Hidden Treasures’ cruise off the coast of Italy – again on board Le Bougainville – from Florence to Venice sails from 22 August to 3 September, priced from $18,835 a person twin-share.

Australia’s silver lining

Silversea Cruises’ flagship vessel, Silver Muse, will circumnavigate Australia in 2020, offering guests the opportunity to discover one of the world’s most exhilarating continents. By combining three voyages, guests will be able to complete a unique circumnavigation of Australia in 50 days, departing Sydney, the home of Silver Muse, on 31 October next year. Guests will discover the natural wonders of Australia, New Zealand and Indonesia on this once-in-a-lifetime voyage, including overnights in Perth, Bali, Cairns and Sydney. All-inclusive cruise-only fares start from $28,890 a person, including an early booking bonus and the option to add on return flights.

All the rivers run

APT has released its 2020 Europe program featuring some of the finest river cruises and small-group journeys on the continent. The company’s flagship 15-day ‘Magnificent Europe’ river cruise from Amsterdam to Budapest is back by popular demand, with guests travelling in comfort on board APT’s own Concerto river ships. Signature experiences include a visit to historic Namedy Castle in Germany and a cocktail reception and concert at Vienna’s City Palace.

Two’s company

Celebrity Cruises has announced Celebrity Eclipse will join sister ship Celebrity Solstice in Australian waters during the 2020/2021 summer cruise season. The 2,850-guest Celebrity Eclipse will be the newest ship ever to homeport in Victoria. She will arrive in Melbourne in December 2020, fresh from a multi-million-dollar modernisation, and will embark on her inaugural cruise season Down Under until April 2021. Celebrity Solstice, meanwhile, will continue her decade-long love affair with Sydney, arriving for her latest cruise season in October 2020.

Sanctuary on the Nile

Discover the wonders of ancient Egypt from the Nile on board one of two spectacular river cruisers offered by Sanctuary Retreats. A bespoke dahabiya with room for only 12 guests, Sanctuary Zein Nile Chateau is a traditional Egyptian sailing ship featuring an expansive upper deck, which is ideal for sightseeing, an Arabian-themed sun deck, an opulent dining space and beautifully appointed cabins. Its elegant sister ship, Sanctuary Nile Adventurer, offers 32 sumptuous cabins and will return to the Nile in September 2019 after a major refurbishment.

Around the world in 180 days

Jules Verne clearly got it wrong. Why travel around the world in 80 days when you can cruise leisurely for almost half a year on board Oceania Cruises’ magnificent Insignia? Fresh from a recent major refurbishment, the 684-passenger liner will embark on an epic voyage in January 2021, departing from Miami and visiting 100 exceptional ports in 44 countries. Destinations include Papeete, Acapulco, Dubai, Muscat, Santorini and Sorrento with a strong focus on Insignia’s exceptional culinary offerings. Fares start from $56,640 a person, including complimentary laundry services for the cruise duration, exclusive shoreside events, a US$1,000 shipboard credit, one-night pre-cruise luxury accommodation, transfer between the hotel and ship, onboard internet and O Life Choice amenities.

© Michael Verdure

A state of bliss

Natural wonders and wildlife sightings await on seven-day ‘Awe of Alaska’ cruises on board Norwegian Cruise Line’s Norwegian Bliss. Venture into the wilderness on a dog sled ride in Juneau, experience Misty Fjords in Ketchikan, enjoy a ride on the Skagway White Pass & Yukon Railway and sail in the comfort of The Haven by Norwegian, the ship’s most luxurious accommodation with concierge and butler service, and other exclusive inclusions.

Perchance to dream

Ultra-luxury SeaDream Yacht Club is taking reservations for the inaugural season of the new SeaDream Innovation which will set sail in September 2021 and visit every continent, more than 200 ports and 49 countries in its first season. The sleek 110-suite mega-yacht’s maiden voyage is a 70-day sojourn from London to Ushuaia, featuring a transatlantic voyage, exotic ports in Central and South America, and a cruise to Patagonia’s Glacier Alley and the fjords of Chile, before culminating in an exciting exploration of Antarctica.

The star attraction

Looking for a last-minute winter escape? Star Clippers is offering a 10-night round-trip sailing from Bali to Indonesia’s Gili Islands and the extraordinary dragons of Komodo. The sailing departs 31 July and includes a two-night stay at one of three luxury Alila resorts in Bali, and costs from $3,910 a person.

Wind in your sails

Windstar Cruises will debut a new Star Collector: Grand Caribbean Adventure in 2020 aboard Wind Surf, its sleek masted sailing ship. The almost-two-month cruise will be an in-depth exploration of the Caribbean’s Greater and Lesser Antilles and the best ports in Latin America. This unique voyage will last 56 days, visit 38 ports in 27 countries, and cruise under sail in 33 kilometres of open water across the Isthmus of Panama.

National treasures

National Geographic Expeditions and Scenic Luxury River Cruises have launched the 2020 program of National Geographic River Cruises with the addition of exciting new itineraries to Egypt and Russia. The joint venture combines Scenic’s all-inclusive luxury river cruise experience with National Geographic’s legacy of science, conservation and exploration to create a program of unforgettable experiences. On each river cruise, guests will enjoy Scenic’s five-star luxury, along with the insights of National Geographic’s experts, the powerful perspective of its world-renowned photographers and inspiring excursions. Enjoy exclusive access and insights to cities in the heart of Russia and Austria; visit a historic fossil site in Germany; or discover the ancient treasures of Egypt.

All hail the queens

Cunard has released its new 2020 and 2021 cruise programs featuring an array of grand voyages on board its majestic flagships, Queen Elizabeth, Queen Mary 2 and Queen Victoria. Two options on board Queen Elizabeth include a 14-night Christmas and New Year cruise to New Zealand departing Melbourne on 22 December 2020, and a 13-night sailing from Auckland to Sydney via Tasmania departing 27 January 2021. Queen Mary is offering a 99-night World Voyage round-trip sailing from Southampton on 10 January 2021, and a 28-night journey from Cape Town to Sydney departing 24 January 2021. Alternatively, sail on board Queen Victoria on a 21-night San Francisco to Sydney voyage, departing 6 February 2021, or a 25-night journey from Hong Kong to Cape Town sailing 20 March 2021.

In-depth experiences

Holland America Line has launched exciting EXC In-Depth Voyages, specifically aimed at seasoned travellers who are curious, thoughtful and eager to find new avenues to discover and understand the world. Designed exclusively for Maasdam in 2019 and 2020, EXC In-Depth Voyages will enable guests to explore the most fascinating corners of the globe through the prism of their own personal interests and passions on a range of itineraries to Australia, New Zealand, the South Pacific, Japan, Mexico and Alaska. With accommodation for up to 1,200 guests, the ship is well-suited to small-group workshops, seminars and learning opportunities. For a deeper dive into culture, history, arts and cuisine, guests can also build their own Collectors’ Voyages lasting from 18 to 51 days.

This article originally appeared in volume 34 of Signature Luxury Travel & Style magazine. To subscribe to the latest issue, click here.

Lead image courtesy of Paul Gaugin Cruises