If you want to experience a wealth of new sights, sounds and smells, but only have a few days to spare, then a cruise is for you! This year over 21 million passengers are expected to take a cruise ship vacation, with many of these being first time cruisers. And with total flexibility and the promise of a new destination each day, we look at some of the top cruise destinations to whet your appetite.
Mediterranean Cruise - The most popular cruise option for beginners is the perennial favourite; the Mediterranean Cruise. With a diverse number of countries and cultures to explore in a relatively short period, the Med makes sense. And with guaranteed sun, this is a good wintersun option too. Opt for a fly cruise (where you fly to and from your start and finish points) and you’ll get the most out of your holiday allowance. Typical Med cruises take in the lively Spanish city of Barcelona, the romantic city of Venice in Italy and the cultural gem of Rome. Travel a little further east to explore the very cusp of Asia; wander buzzing Istanbul or chill out on one of the many Greek holiday island beaches. Turkey, Egypt, Malta and Croatia and top favourites on an eastern Mediterranean cruise, whilst France, Italy and Spain are the most popular stops on the Western Mediterranean circuit.
Baltic Cruise - If you’re captivated by the fabulous architecture, culture and history of the Baltic region, then this cruise is for you. Most popular stops include eco-friendly Copenhagen, attractive Gothenburg and the cultural hotspot of Helsinki. Spend a few extra days at sea and take in stunning St Petersburg, admire the Jugendstil architecture of Riga and soak up the legendary nightlife in Tallinn. One word of warning though; the sea can be choppy in winter so this is one cruise best reserved for the summer!
Florida Cruise - Calling all families that want to combine the legendary Disney themepark of Florida with lazy days on pristine Caribbean beaches. A Florida cruise is the perfect blend of excitement and relaxation. And the Disney cruises tend to be geared up for families so you’ll find plenty of child-friendly activities and entertainment onboard.
Caribbean Cruise - Getting to the Caribbean can be pretty expensive and once there travellers tend to fly and flop – which is such a shame as each of the many islands has its own unique culture and fascinating history. The Caribbean offers so much more than ‘just’ vast swathes of pristine beaches and picture-perfect emerald seas. See why St Kitts and Antigua has been fought over many times over history, sample world-class rum which is produced on many of the islands in the traditional way and experience a jeep safari in St Lucia. In fact there is so much more to do within the Caribbean than flying and flopping! Try swimming with stingrays in Grand Cayman, meet the dolphins in Cuba and try world class watersports in Bermuda. Allow fourteen days to take in a large area of the Caribbean or opt for a shorter cruise which will explore a smaller section such as the most southern Caribbean or the West Caribbean and Mexico.
Canaries Cruise - One of the most popular cruises with first timers is a Canaries Cruise which takes in the major islands. Stop by Tenerife and climb mighty Mount Teide (or cheat and opt for the cable car instead), try dune jumping and navigating a 4x4 over the dunes of Fuerteventura and hike the mysterious dunes, cave villages and mountains of Gran Canaria. Don’t miss the volcanic Timanfaya Park on Lanzarote and find your inner astronomer whilst on La Palma. Finally, La Gomera and El Hierro are little visited, yet a Canaries cruise offers the option to sample the lush landscapes and variety of watersports on offer.
Far East Cruise - To experience a wealth of Asian cities in one short break is within easy reach on a Far East cruise. If you’ve always wanted to marvel at the skyscrapers of Shanghai, explore the traditional temples of Kobe and hop onboard an authentic junk on Halong Bay, then this trip is for you! Allow a good sixteen or eighteen days to also take in pristine Singapore, gritty Bangkok, bustling Manila and captivating Kuala Lumpur.
Red Sea Cruise - If you’re captivated by rich marine life, sumptuous beaches and clear blue waters, then head to the Red Sea. The salty water supports 200 different species of coral as well as 300 shark species. Considered the highway between the east and west, the route is lined with well-known resort towns such as El Gouna and Eilat. There are the well-known scuba dive and snorkelling sites of Sharm el Sheik and Dahab, as well as untouched dive sites along the way.