Whether you're a keen cruiser or looking for your first voyage, these are the best cruise holidays to take in 2020
Cruises are a spectacular way to see the world. They’re efficient – you can take in multiple destinations without much effort at all – relaxing and sociable. If you’ve ever wanted to embark on a cruise, or you’re looking for your next big ocean-going adventure, try one of these great cruise holidays for 2020.
1. The round-the-world spectacular
You’re never too old for a gap year adventure, so why not spend four months at sea exploring the world next year? Round-the-world cruises are an amazing experience, from spending time on board a huge ship equipped with everything you could possibly need – even a spa and shopping centre – to hopping off in a new destination every few days.
Many depart from London Tilbury and take in European cities like Amsterdam and islands such as the Azores, before heading onto the Caribbean, South America, French Polynesia and Australia. You’ll get the chance to explore the thrilling sights and sounds of Tokyo, laze on the beaches of Thailand’s Koh Samui (pictured above) and sample street food in Mumbai, India before heading back through the Middle East and Europe again. There really is no cruise comparable to a 121-day round-the-world epic.
2. Savour the delights of the Danube
Heading eastward from the gorgeous Black Forest (pictured above), this spectacular cruises makes its way through 10 countries in total, including Austria, Hungary and Romania.
A Danube river cruise promises spectacular scenery, pretty historic towns and some of Europe’s most dynamic cities. Options include a six-day short cruise and an 11-day epic.
3. Sightseeing on a staycation
The UK has its fair share of spectacular waterways and coastlines, from the Scottish island of Mull to the Scilly Isles in Cornwall. Plus, there’s never been a better time to explore at home with the pound’s constantly fluctuating value against the Euro.
Cruising around the UK is a glorious way to explore all this nation has to offer, from the fantastic seafood in British waters to the pretty fishing towns and villages dotted along the pockmarked coastline. Many cruises start and end in Bristol – a fascinating port city itself – and visit exciting cities like Liverpool and Aberdeen, as well as the Channel Islands off the south coast. Newmarket Holidays has excellent British Isles cruises, including this 12-day explorer incorporating France too.
4. Cruise the Caribbean
If you’ve ever dreamt of paradise, it likely looked something like a Caribbean beach – all palms swaying, soft sand and blue skies to a soundtrack of waves gently lapping the beach. On a Caribbean cruise you can sample multiple paradises, stopping off at many of the region’s top beaches, as well as getting into the laid-back Caribbean lifestyle on board a well-equipped cruise ship. This is one of the best cruise destinations in the world.
Many Caribbean cruises start in glitzy Miami, Florida, where you can walk the likes of Venice Beach boardwalk to see street performers tout for tips as the sun sets behind the Art Deco apartment buildings. After setting sail for the Caribbean, you’ll get to visit islands like Barbados, Grenada (pictured above) and St Lucia, where superb rum, chocolate and spices will have you satiated for days.
Cunard offers a 26-night cruise to the Caribbean, departing from Southampton and back.
5. An awe-inspiring Icelandic cruise
Iceland’s Golden Circle is becoming ever more popular by the year, but you can beat the crowds on the highways by taking in this amazing emerald isle on a cruise ship. There’ll be no traffic jams on the waters, and you’ll get to visit some of the remote coastal communities those on land can’t reach easily.
Spend a day or two in Reykjavik exploring the Icelandic capital, then sail around the island’s dramatic coastline to find striking black beaches and fishing communities turned artist colonies at the northern tip. Newmarket Holidays has an Iceland and Faroes cruise taking in all the best sights, as well as the enigmatic Faroe Islands (pictured above) where you’re likely to spot cute puffins and whales.
6. A quick & easy cruise to Amsterdam
One of the most affordable cruise options on the Continent, an Amsterdam mini-cruise is an ideal weekend away or mid-week break. Departing from a UK port, there’s no need for that slog to the airport – you can be in Amsterdam after just one night’s sleep. The city has endless entertainment, whether you’re keen to learn more about the city’s wartime history at the Anne Frank House, or just explore the picturesque canals and bridges it’s famous for.
Take an afternoon to see something a little more off-beat: the Kattenkabinet is a fun little museum inside a classic Amsterdam townhouse, dedicated to all-things cats, from sculptures to paintings. It even has a couple of resident cats lazing around on its warped floorboards. Newmarket Holidays has a three-day Amsterdam cruise.
7. Marvel in the Mediterranean
Nothing beats the romance of being at sea on a tall ship, so hop aboard the magnificent SPV Royal Clipper, where ultimate relaxation and true pampering await you. Within this evocative tall ship is a luxurious world for those who seek a genuine sailing experience and wish to rediscover a maritime tradition without sacrificing creature comforts. The Royal Clipper glides effortlessly through the waves; rich hardwoods, polished brass, wrought-iron fittings and marble are beautifully complemented by deep-pile carpets and tasteful furnishings, which together, have created a unique ship of outstanding harmony, beauty and luxury.
Far from being a typical cruise ship, the Royal Clipper is of a sufficiently intimate size, so as to sail close to the shore and visit smaller, fascinating ports. Not only do you enjoy more stunning views, but you also have a wonderful seafaring experience. The 10-night cruise along the Dalmatian and Amalfi Coasts (pictured above), takes in Croatia, Italy and Greece.
8. Make the most of the Mekong
In this unforgettable trip, you’ll visit Cambodia and Siem Reap, gateway to one of the great wonders of the world, and Angkor, once the world’s largest city, with an incredible 200 temples. You’ll stay in Phnom Penh, Cambodia’s capital, considered the most beautiful of the ‘French’ colonial cities of Indochina. In Vietnam, the pace of life is faster yet the legacies of past rulers remain with their temples and pagodas alongside the famous orange-clad buddhist monks. Now is the time to visit these captivating and colourful destinations while so much of this distinctive heritage remains; and the best way to experience them is from the beautiful arterial waterway, the stunning Mekong River (pictured above). Riviera Travel offers a 13-night cruise along the Mekong.
9. See the Northern Lights in Norway
The Northern Lights is a celestial phenomenon that has bewitched and entranced generations, and is one of earth’s most awe-inspiring sights. Explore the stunning coast of northern Norway – a region of fjords, glaciers and off-shore islands – on this delightful cruise. Your ship, the Marco Polo, has a profile marking her out as the epitome of seagoing elegance. She is a beautiful ocean-liner in the classic tradition, offering high levels of comfort, sumptuous dining and a genuinely warm welcome from the crew. This trip departs from Tilbury in Essex for 13 nights.
10. Cruise with a foodie favourite
Skip the waiting list for the hottest restaurant in town and instead, book with P&O. Its cruises have a long association with celebrity chefs, such as Michelin-starred Atul Kochhar. sample his superb Indian restaurant, Aindhu, on P&O’s flagship, Britannia, where you can eat for just £20. On a handful of Food Hero Cruise Experiences, legendary chef Marco Pierre White offers masterclasses in the ship’s high-tech cookery school. You’ll find plenty to tantalise your tastebuds on Holland America Ships, where you can eat your way round the world as well as travel it. Plus, you can try a hands-on class in the kitchens. If you love baking, join national treasure Mary berry on Emerald Waterways for a mouthwatering Christmas itinerary. Festive Delights of the Danube with Mary Berry is on sale now.
11. Enjoy a wellness cruise
Refresh your mind, revive your soul and get more active on the latest cruise experiences. If you’re a dedicated spa lover, try Viking Ocean. While most cruise lines charge for a spa pass, its Scandinavian-style facilities are free, and you can wallow in its rejuvenating thalassotherapy pool as much as you like. Or choose a bespoke break with MSC Cruises. Its ‘Wellness Experience’ is dedicated to health and fitness, while the ‘Aurea Experience’ offers a dedicated spa package and flexible dining, so you don’t have to plan your day around set mealtimes. ‘We’re making the first completely personalised, 360° wellness experience at sea available to our guests,’ says Gianni Onorato, MsC Cruises Chief Executive Officer.
Words: Lottie Gross