Whatever your travelling style, there’ll be a ship to suit. Whether you’re a seasoned sailor, or never cruised before, cruising is an increasingly popular way of exploring several destinations in one trip without the tiring aspects of travel that accompanies like packing and unpacking in each destination.
1. For lovers of discovery
Seeking a super-luxe cruising adventure with dramatic scenery, exotic destinations and cultural depth? Seabourn Encore’s 37-day Seas of Sinbad voyage is for you. Its starting point is the busy Athenian port of Piraeus on Greece's eastern Mediterranean coast and the final destination is Singapore. Highlights include the mysterious ancient Israeli city of Haifa, Oman (dubbed 'The Pearl of Mystic Arabia’), Aqaba in Jordan, Mumbai and Cochin in India, and the idyllic archipelago of Langkawi off the Malay Peninsula’s west coast.
Should colder climes take your fancy, book a spot on the MS Spitsbergen and Hurtigruten’s 16-day Exploring the Arctic Land of the Caribou cruise. Running; between Copenhagen and St John’s off the eastern coast of Canada, this promises wild tundra, taiga forests, majestic mountains and exotic wildlife as well as insight into the lives of the local Inuit people and the Viking history that came before. Or, glide down the rivers of Russia with Viking Cruises' 13-day Waterways of the Tsars journey between St Petersburg and Moscow. On offer is a look at the country's monumental landmarks and the chance to have tea with locals inside their dwellings.
2. For traditional cruisers
Seduced by the classic ambience of a world-favourite cruising company? Holland America Line's Amazon Explorer cruise - a 28-day round-trip voyage from Florida's Fort Lauderdale on the MS Prinsendam – is perfect for you. It visits the Virgin Islands, Dominica, Saint Lucia, Barbados and Devils Island in French Guiana before venturing hundreds of kilometres along the Amazon River into the heart of the Brazilian jungle, where the brave-hearted can fish for piranha. After that it's off to the Afrocentric Caribbean enclaves of Trinidad and Tobago.
Voyages don't come more stately than Cunard's 11-night Iberian Adventure aboard the Queen Victoria. After leaving Southampton, this regal vessel calls at Seville, Malaga, Gibraltar and Lisbon, offering an aristocratic array of excursions, such as meeting the Barbary Apes, sherry sampling and visiting the famed Andalusian Royal Horses of Jerez. Closer to home is Seabourn’s 18-day Orchid Isles & The Coral Coast cruise, a journey from Bali 's Benoa to Sydney aboard the new and ultra-luxe Seabourn Encore, which took its official maiden voyage in early 2017.
3. For all the family
Travelling with the family in tow? Take the five-night Tasmania cruise on Ovation of the Seas, Royal Caribbean's mega-liner. Ovation of the Seas promises treats such as bumper cars, a roller-skating rink, circus school and the North Star capsule, which lifts passengers 91 metres above sea level for breathtaking views. With robot-created cocktails at the Bionic Bar and a guest capacity of 4,905, the Tassie-bound voyage might be just the thing for the whole family.
Carnival Cruise Line’s nine-night Pacific Islands voyage from Sydney aboard Carnival Spirit goes via Mare, Lifou, Isle of Pines and Noumea – and ticks every box when it comes to fun-packed activities. Big splashes include the super-slick Green Thunder waterslide, movies screened under the stars and other incredible entertainment options. For a fast family break, hop aboard P&O Cruises' Pacific Jewel to Kangaroo Island. Departing Melbourne, this four-night, one-port journey to the idyllic South Australian isle meets with sea lions, ‘roos, platypi and the aptly named Remarkable Rocks.
4. For easy organising
For holiday-makers hunting all-inclusive escapes, check out Pacific Explorer, P&O Cruises' newest and arguably sleekest vessel (it has high-end dining as well as a waterpark and barefoot bowls at sea). Its Discover Vanuatu voyage is an enticing 10-night, four-port round-trip from Sydney that visits a series of exotic island paradises, including Noumea and the tranquil haven of New Caledonia's Isle of Pines. Port Vila provides particular fun with horse riding, abseiling, zorbing and jet-boating, plus snorkelling across the bay.
What's not to love about Royal Caribbean International's 11-night New Zealand round-trip sojourn from Sydney on its flagship vessel Radiance of the Seas? This intriguing, eight-port expedition does the rounds of the magnificent Sounds – visiting Milford, Doubtful and Dusky sounds before dropping in on Dunedin, Akaroa, Auckland and the spectacular Bay of Islands archipelago.
Say 'aloha' to Carnival Cruise Line's Hawaii cruise, a 14-day odyssey setting off from Long Beach in Los Angeles. Trip highlights include Maui's Haleakala crater and the tropical forests of Kauai.
5. For a new twist on the classics
Looking for elegant luxury and classic destinations presented with the freshest of twists? Book a place on Botanica World Discoveries' 11-day British lsles, Castles, Gardens & Birdlife small-ship cruise, travelling from Edinburgh to London. This voyage aboard the gracefully intimate MS Hebridean Sky cruises from the North Sea to the English Channel, taking in the remote Hebridean islands, Ireland and the Isles of Scilly. Excursions include some of the most exquisite gardens imaginable as well as monuments such as Aberdeen’s 16th-century Crathes Castle. Pencil in time for a lecture by British celebrity gardener Monty Don and a jaunt to the Isle of Jura, where a 200-year-old single malt whisky distillery awaits.
Explore the Black Sea with Scenic’s 11-day Budapest to Bucharest voyage along the Danube; the Black Sea Explorer voyage includes an excursion to Romania’s imposing Palace of the Parliament, the second-largest administrative building in the world.
6. For a chance to get away
Yearning to escape the rat race and recharge those frazzled batteries? Azamara Club Cruises' Caribbean Intensive cruise is an indulgent dream of a 14-night tropical break. This Miami round-trip proffers five sea days (perfect for pampering) while the stopover schedule features five idyllic West Indies island retreats. Highlights include the tiny Virgin Island of St John (aka 'Love City') – rich in history and exotic beauty, with coral reefs, pristine landscapes and luminescent beaches.
Unwind on Avalon Waterways' 12-day Classic China & The Yangtze River voyage from Beijing to Shanghai. This sojourn includes a deluxe three-night cruise from China's historic capital of Chongqing to Yichang via a spectacular series of gorges. Relax in Mexico’s Sea of Cortez – a place of raw tranquil beauty – with UnCruise Adventure's seven-night, island-hopping Baja's Bounty voyage from San Jose del Cabo on Baja California Peninsula's southern tip.
7. For the cruising foodie
So you have a taste for eating well? Oceania Cruises specialises in tempting the taste buds of gourmet travellers, serving high-end cuisine created by renowned French chef Jacques Pepin. Beyond that. the cruise company has cooked up a menu of immersive Culinary Discovery Tours – think gourmet cooking classes, market expeditions and chef-led foraging outings in destinations such as Spain and Greece. Other treats include a smorgasbord of food and wine trails through Europe and Australasia.
Spicing up Regent Seven Seas Cruises’ Seven Seas Explorer are exclusive Gourmet Explorer Tour series through Spain, Italy, Morocco, Monaco, Portugal, France, Greece and Slovenia. From street food to haute cuisine, the focus is always on authentic flavours, and excursions offer sneak peeks into chefs' kitchens as well as special classes on how to create cannoli and artisanal cheese.
Viking Cruises' river voyages feature a strong foodie focus. Tempting morsels from its eight-day Chateaux, Rivers & Wine cruise include the chance to blend your own Cognac, hunt truffles in Perigord and sample oysters fresh from Arcachon Bay.
8. For a wild time
Motivated, active and looking for an adventure-packed journey? Try the four-masted tall ship Star Clipper cruise across Indonesia. This stylish 109-metre-long vessel holds a maximum of 170 passengers and offers the experience of travelling on an authentic square rigger equipped with luxury touches – it's akin to stepping back in time. Seven-night voyages criss-cross the Indonesian waters to and from Bali. The target? Untouched destinations such as Komodo National Park, Satonda Island and Lombok’s so-called 'paradise island' of Gili Nanggu.
Thrillseekers need look no further than the adrenaline-pumping skydiving simulator on Royal Caribbean's enormous Quantum-class vessel Anthem of the Seas. Its 12-night Bermuda and southern Caribbean roundtrip cruise from New Jersey's Cape Liberty drops in on St Maarten, Puerto Rico and Barbados and boasts the largest indoor active space at sea. Azamara Club Cruises' 15-night, roundtrip Wonders of Iceland Voyage from Southampton in England is perfect for travellers with a spirit of adventure. A crowd favourite is the otherworldly countryside as you stop along the northern coast of Iceland.
9. For those seeking meaning
Has reading Elizabeth Gilbert's memoir Eat Pray Love left you craving a spiritual dimension to your physical journey? Commit to exploring the Dominican Republic aboard the 704-passenger Adonia with Fathom. The eight-day, round-trip from Miami involves a four-day visit to Puerto Plata and the opportunity to contribute to local projects with community volunteers. The lengthy stints at sea to and from the USA means there's plenty of time to tap into the self-discovery workshops offered on board.
Meaning, myth and tradition collide in Avalon Waterways’ voyage through the popular Asian destinations of Vietnam and Cambodia and along the Mekong River. The 13-day Fascinating Vietnam, Cambodia & the Mekong River cruise from Ho Chi Minh City to Siem Reap is a chance to immerse yourself in ancient cultures, deep beliefs and the crumbling grandeur of ancient monuments such as Angkor Wat. You're sure to discover something meaningful to you.
Seek inspiration on Celebrity Cruises’ 14-night Arabian Sea & India cruise. With stops at Muscat, New Mangalore, Goa, Mumbai and Abu Dhabi, it's a pilgrimage of pure delight.
10. For absolute escapism
Hungry for a voyage of discovery, escapism and total immersion? Dive into Ponant’s Iconic Kimberley cruise to experience one of Earth’s most remarkable wildernesses zones. Departing Darwin on L’Austral, a glamourous six-deck vessel with a 264-passenger capacity, it offers plenty of expeditions on a fleet of black-rubber Zodiacs. Trip highlights include trying to spot the shy snubfin dolphin in the Buccaneer Archipelago’s clear waters, visiting the Lacepede Islands where green turtles breed, admiring ancient Indigenous rock art galleried across sandstone rock faces, and witnessing the breathtaking beauty of the King George Falls.
Set sail on Viking Cruises’ 22-day expedition from the Caribbean to the Amazon on the stylish, adults-only Viking Sea. Setting off from San Juan in Puerto Rico, it covers eight countries (including Barbados, Brazil and Antigua) and explores the legendary South American river. There’s also an onboard snow grotto – complete with falling snowflakes – in which to relax.
A version of this story first appeared in the Cruise edition of Travel ideas magazine.