Cruising has always been on my wish list, but to be frank, the vastness of choice has overwhelmed me. Recently, I came across an article from Travel and Leisure‘s January 2015 iPad edition, entitled Cruising 2015, that offered advice as to when and where to go [unfortunately T&L’s article, written by Jane Wooldridge, is not yet available on-line, so I typed it]:
The Caribbean & Mexico [January and February (but not March, when spring break begins)] :: In February, Celebrity Constellation travels round-trip from Fort Lauderdale, visiting Key West and Cozumel, Mexico. Though popular with the yachting crowd, the Grenadines have yet to be touched by mass tourism. Star Clippers Cruises offers voyages (seven nights) on a five-masted Royal Clipper-a true sailing vessel.
South & Central America [January through March, for low humidity and blue skies] :: Most Cape Horn sailings begin and end in Chile or Argentina, but Oceania Cruises’ February 3 itinerary on the Regatta (19 nights, with airfare) starts in Lima, Peru – which gives you time to visit Machu Picchu before cruising Patagonia’s dramatic fjords. Leaving from Rio de Janerio, the February 7 sailing (12 nights, all-inclusive) on the Azamara Journey includes two additional nights in Rio mid-cruise during Carnival. Windstart Cruises’ 148-passenger Wind Spirit has trips (seven nights) through the Panama Canal with stops in Costa Rica’s national parks.
Southeast Asia [January through March, the least muggy months] :: Crystal Symphony’s February 24 voyage (13 nights, all-inclusive) visits Malaysia and *it* destination Myanmar. The highlight: two nights in Yangon, with an additional overnight excursion to the 1,000-year-old temples of Bagan. For a more immersive experience in Myanmar, AmaWaterways’ new AmaPura sails to or from Mandalay (12 nights), with trips to Salay’s monasteries and the Mahamuni Buddha. Leaving from Hong Kong, Silversea’s March 10 voyage (nine nights, all-inclusive) is Vietnam 101: the 296-passenger Silver Wind docks in Ha Long Bay, Chan May, and Ho Chi Minh City.
The Netherlands & Belgium [April — prime time to see tulips] :: Tour operator Cox & Kings recently launched river cruises on Scenic Cruises’ upscale ships. The April 27 sailing (seven nights, including drinks), round-trip from Amsterdam, calls at Keukenhof, the world’s second-largest Flower garden, open only during the spring, and Bruges. Viking follows a similar itinerary on its new Longships with its Tulips and Windmills sailings (nine nights, including drinks).
The Mediterranean & Greek Isles [May and early June, before the summer rush] :: A benefit of SeaDream Yacht Club: its twin 112-passenger yachts can stop in smaller ports. The May 30 sailing, round-trip from Civitavecchia, Italy (seven nights, all-inclusive), on the SeaDream II, features three days on the Amalfi Coast. Oceania Cruises’ May 20 voyage from Istanbul to Lisbon (10 nights with airfare) on the 684-passenger Nautica incorporates destinations rarely found in the same itinerary, including Tunis, Tunisia, and Málga, Spain. Seabourn Odyssey hits popular Greek isles (Mykonos, Santorini) on its May 16 sailing from Venice to Istanbul (13 nights, all-inclusive).
Alaska [Mid-May and June, for fewer crowds and more affordable fares] :: Princess offers voyages along the Inside Passage (seven nights) on the 3,082-passenger Crown Princess and Ruby Princess. You’ll stop at Glacier Bay National Park, where regulations limit ship traffic. Consider adding a land tour: Holland America Line’s itineraries combine a cruise from Vancouver to Anchorage on the 1,432-passenger Zaandam with a rail trip to Denali National Park (12 nights). Ponant’s small, luxurious ships are often chartered by tour operators like Abercrombie & Kent. It makes its Alaska debut with L’Austral sailing the Inside Passage (seven nights, all-inclusive).
Northern Europe & Iceland [July and August, for the white nights] :: Regent Seven Seas Cruises’ Viking Odyssey itinerary, leaving July 6, combines the Norwegian fjords with a trip to the Arctic Circle on the 700-passenger Seven Seas Voyager (20 nights, all-inclusive) visits traditional Baltic ports (St. Petersburg, Russia, and Tallinn, Estonia), and includes two nights each in Stockholm and Amsterdam. Tauck is one of the few companies to offer Iceland-specific cruises. Explore Grimsey Island and the Snaefellsnes peninsula on a round-trip voyage from Reykjavik (seven nights, all-inclusive) on Ponant’s upscale ships.
The Transatlantic Crossing [July and August, so you can soak up the sun on the pool deck] :: Cunard helped pioneer translatlantic cruising — and its fleet is the only one to offer regular seven-and eight-night sailings across the pond. Only July 2, the Queen Mary 2 (12 nights) will make a commemorative voyage from Southampton, England, to New York, nearly 175 years to the day after Cunard’s first ship, Britannia, made its maiden voyage. The QM2 then returns across the Atlantic to Southampton on July 14 (eight nights) and offers more sailings through July and August.
The South Pacific & Hawaii [September and October, to miss the summer crowds] :: The 332-passenger Paul Gauguin regularly sails French Polynesia’s Society Islands, visiting Bora-Bora and Moorea (seven nights, all inclusive, with airfare from L.A.). The October 17 voyage (13 nights, all-inclusive, with airfare from L.A.) includes these but also goes farther afield to the Cook Islands and Fiji. If you prefer to see the Society Islands on a smaller ship, choose Windstar’s 148-passenger Wind Spirit (seven nights). Closer to home, cruise the 2,713-passenger Disney Wonder (10 nights).
The Rhine & Danube Rivers [November and December, to see the Christmas markets] :: AmaWaterways’ Christmas on the Rhine voyages aboard the new AmaSerena (seven nights, including wine and beer) start with an optional land-based tour in Switzerland — two nights each in Zurich and Lucerne. The cruise itself goes from Basel to Amsterdam (and vice versa), featuring cities such as Heidelberg, Germany, and Strasbourg, France, all decked out for the holidays. Cruise the Danube River from Nuremberg to Vienna on Uniworld River Cruises’ 132-passenger, Art Deco-inspired River Princess (seven nights, all-inclusive).
Antarctica [November through February, the only season you can travel here] :: Lindblad Expeditions-National Geographic’s Journey to Antarctica sailings (13 nights) spotlight a rotating series of signature speakers, including John Evans, who climbed the White Continent’s highest peak. Hurtigruten’s Land of the Penguins voyage (10 nights) on the 256-guest Fram allows passengers to camp overnight on the ice. For a more luxurious (and in-depth) experience, the 450-passenger Seabourn Quest has longer voyages (21 nights, all-inclusive), including six full days in the Antarctic region, as well as in the Falkland Islands and the Chilean fjords.
Images: No. 1 // No. 2
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