The Best Luxury Cruises To Discover The Sea
Island hop in Indonesia – Nothing’s more regal than floating island-to-island on an elegant white-sailed tall ship in the turquoise waters of Indonesia’s Flores Sea. Setting sail (quite literally) from Bali and making a beeline for Komodo Island, you’ll see komodo dragons basking in the jaw-droppingly beautiful national park they call home – and soak up loads of sun on pink coral-sand beaches, obvs. Aboard the Star Clipper you’ll find gentle relaxation and hammocks hanging over the emerald waters.
Get your foodie fix in Greece – Fancy setting sail from Venice and never leaving the Italian flavours behind? Lucky you – die new culinary’ offering from Celebrity Cruises is bringing Michelin-starred Tuscan delights (and sushi, of course) to every cruise route. So whether you’re maxing it in the old city of Dubrovnik, taking in die hillside sprawl of Santorini or shaking it up in die champagne bars of Mykonos, you’ll always be able to go back to homemade pasta, dry-aged steak and carefully selected artisanal bites. Good for foodies, bad if you have a taramasalata addiction.
Break the ice in Antarctica – Seals, terns, penguins and ice – if this little lot ticks all your boxes, you’re going to want to hop aboard the Ushuaia in Argentina and keep on heading south until you hit die ice (not literally). On a nine-day tom-, you’ll take in heaps of wildlife, the flooded cauldron of an active volcano and plenty of chilly polar waters. Even better, all this is just die, er, tip of the iceberg – with three even-more-exhaustive tours available for intrepid Antarctic adventurers, it’s about time you broke the ice.
Go natural in the Galapagos – Move over luxury liners, this cool cruise includes planes, trains and automobiles, too. Starting on land in Peru, you’ll lunch in Lima and march up Machu Picchu before nipping over the border to Ecuador for a gentle jaunt to the Galapagos islands with an expert wildlife guide. When you’re not gawping at blue-footed boobies (the birds, guys, keep up) through thermal vision cameras, you can kick your feet up and sip cocktails on deck.
Rock out in the Caribbean – Sure, rock isn’t the first word you want to hear when you’re jumping on a ship and sailing the Caribbean Sea, but this frenetic floating festival blows that idea out of the water. Lifting anchor in Tampa, Florida, on 10 February next year, this five-day cruise is pretty much the best way to block out those end of winter blues – with buckets of bourbon, face-melting solos and the blue seas of Belize. Expect sunset guitar shreds and ringing ears. In a good way.
Scour Scotland’s sea stacks – If you fancy a cheeky staycation but want to put the entire UK between you and your desk, this one’s definitely for you. Armed with the expertise of a wildlife guide and three Scottish seafarers, you’ll be scouring the rugged coastline of St Kilda and the Outer Hebrides searching its sea stacks and archipelagos for puffins, machairs, deserted villages and true celtic vibes like no other.
Chill out along the Mekong river – Panoramic cabin views of the Mekong river are merely the tip of the oar on this seven-night tour of Vietnam and Cambodia from Aqua Expeditions. As well as ebbing regally through some of the most idyllic countryside Southeast Asia has to offer on an indulgently modern 40-berth barge, you’ll take day-long onshore excursions by skiff, bike and, er, shanks’ pony. Mountaintop pagodas? Foodie tours of floating markets? Khmer massages? Watermelon crush cocktails? Count us in.
Explore onshore with Royal Caribbean – Complete with multiple restaurants, luxe lodgings and unparalleled onboard entertainment (hell, you can even surf on some of their ships), there’s not much you can’t do on Royal Caribbean’s fine fleet. Still, you can’t gawp at the Dubai skyline from among the clouds (if there are any). You can’t dive the Arabian Gulf for shoals of tropical fish, either. And you certainly can’t play 18 holes of golf at the Els Club. Luckily, you can do all three as additional excursions from Dubai-based cruise packages. That’s if you ever get bored of mini golf.
Run with wild horses in Canada – It’s not often we’d recommend getting on a boat if you want to see horses, but when it comes to Sable Island, Canada, you can’t fault our logic. Setting sail from St John’s in Newfoundland you’ll see some of the planet’s last remaining wild ponies, as well as the world’s largest colony of grey seals -all on one skinny spit of sand 109 miles off the coast of Nova Scotia. Arf arf arf.
Take a booze cruise in the US – If you’ve ever wondered which IPA is best paired with the wild northwest (us too), it’s probably about time you hopped on this beer-fuelled wilderness adventure. As well as tipple tastings and tours, you’ll be watching whales, hiking the Olympic mountains and kayaking out to some of the San Juan islands (but not all of them – there are 172). Setting off in April and October each year, this crafty little break redefines the booze cruise – and you know what, Carrefour, we’re not sorry.
Slow the pace in French wine country – Whistle stop country-hopping cruises are great and all, but sometimes it pays to take things a little slower. Extending the 57 minute drive between Castelnaudary and Homps in France’s Aude Valley into an eight day ebb down the Canal du Midi, this gentle amble takes in idyllic villages, medieval castles and the famous vineyards of Languedoe-Roussillon. With a personal skipper and local guide on hand, the only time you’ll stop is to fill up on vin and pain.
Catch some rays across the Caribbean – With nine shore stops, private beach parties and hundreds of miles of gorgeous white sand to plonk yourself down on, this classic circuit on Emerald Princess is stately, sensational and (most importantly) incredibly sunny. From the rum shacks of Barbados to the pastel-painted watersides of Curacao (plus Antigua, Nevis and Martinique, too), this two-week jaunt unearths just about all the hidden gems the Caribbean has to offer in one glorious, circular voyage.