virtuoso communities The Cruise Itineraries Making a Splash This Year

The Cruise Itineraries Making a Splash This Year

Cunard’s Queen Mary 2 in Cape Town, South Africa. 
Cunard’s Queen Mary 2 in Cape Town, South Africa. 
Growing faster than the pace of global travel, with 28.5 million annual passengers, cruising continues to diversify.
More ships are heading to new destinations, and cruise lines are launching vessels sized from mega to compact, creating programs for every psychographic, from explorer to gastronome. Such variety at sea means many choices for every sailor. River cruising has spread from Europe to six continents, and Alaska has become a starter vacation for more remote Arctic explorations. Wherever you want to go, there’s a trip (or three) to consider, as the following classic itineraries – and their alternatives – demonstrate.
If you like ocean crossings...
Cunard takes transatlantic travel to the next level. The pace aboard the 2,691-passenger Queen Mary 2 is pure leisure, crossing the four time zones that separate New York and Southampton, England, in seven jetlag-free days. The onboard enrichment options run nonstop, from stargazing in the shipboard planetarium to attending Broadway-caliber shows, participating in book club discussions in the largest library at sea, or striking yoga poses in the gym.
...then you’ll love: 
Spend 13 days sailing from the lush Caribbean island of Barbados to Lisbon, with stops at the Canary Islands and Madeira en route. During port calls, The Ritz-Carlton Yacht Collection’s 298-passenger Evrima opens at the stern of the ship, allowing guests to swim, paddleboard, or simply sunbathe at sea level. Nine bars and restaurants ensure culinary variety, while an infinity pool, full-service spa, and state-of-the-art fitness studio are highlights of the ship’s wellness features.
 
Bridge the New World and the Old World on Viking Ocean Cruises15-day Atlantic crossing from Miami to Barcelona. The journey features a stop in the Caribbean’s Sint Maarten, where sun-lovers can visit the island’s bicultural beaches, and skirts Europe, with a day docked in mountainous Madeira. The 930-passenger Viking Sky entertains at sea with a well-stocked library and a spa with a sauna and snow grotto. A final overnight in Barcelona allows for sampling tapas deep into the night. 
If you like river cruises... 
Ply some of Europe’s liquid highways with Avalon Waterways on a ten-day sailing between two of central Europe’s most romantic cities, Prague and Budapest. After two days in the Czech capital, guests board an Avalon ship in Nuremberg, Germany, and continue on the Danube to medieval Regensburg and past the vineyard-lined banks of Austria’s Wachau region before spending two days in musical Vienna. For a fitting final day: a soak in one of Budapest’s historic baths. 
AmaWaterways passengers during a shore excursion in Cambodia.
AmaWaterways passengers during a shore excursion in Cambodia.
...then you’ll love:
The Mekong River is a vital link between neighboring Asian cities. AmaWaterwayseight-day Mekong cruises connect Ho Chi Minh City with Siem Reap via the 124-passenger AmaDara. Culture and politics mix on excursions to shop a local market in Sa Dec, tour silk-making workshops in Tan Chau, see the killing fields of the Khmer Rouge, and walk amid the French colonial architecture of Phnom Penh. 
 
The mighty Mississippi River divides east from west, links north to south, and looms large in American culture – all of which the 166-passenger paddle wheeler American Duchess explores. American Queen Steamboat Company’s nine-day Memphis-to-New Orleans itinerary celebrates American music with stops that focus on blues, rock and roll (including a visit to Elvis Presley’s Graceland), and jazz in its birthplace. En route, visit Civil War cemeteries and antebellum estates. 
American Queen Steamboat Company’s American Duchess. 
American Queen Steamboat Company’s American Duchess. 
If you like Hawaii...
Norwegian Cruise Line offers a relaxing way to explore the 50th state. Seven-day itineraries aboard the 2,186-passenger Pride of America set sail from Honolulu and allow two days on Maui to snorkel with sea turtles or play a round of golf on local greens. Dual calls on Hawaii Island offer lush rain forests near Hilo and pristine beaches around Kona. Guests also say aloha to Kauai while sailing past the verdant volcanic mountains that wall the Na Pali coast. 
...then you’ll love: 
Cast off for Tahiti and the Society Islands aboard the 332-passenger Paul Gauguin with Paul Gauguin Cruises. Eight-day South Pacific sailings leave the Tahitian capital of Papeete to explore Polynesian culture, beginning with 40 ancient marae in Huahine. Overnights in Bora-Bora and Moorea offer ample opportunities for beachcombing, as well as aquatic adventures ranging from scuba diving with sharks to lagoon sailing. 
 
Explore the mysteries of Easter Island and its link to South Pacific cultures from the 264-passenger Le Soléal on a 13-day sailing with Ponant. Three days on Easter Island – aka Rapa Nui – introduces the monumental moai statues, figures carved between the thirteenth and sixteenth centuries by descendants of Polynesian immigrants. The ship then traces the route in reverse, stopping at remote Pitcairn Island and uninhabited Temoe Atoll before reaching the beaches of Moorea. 
A Ponant excursion on Easter Island.
A Ponant excursion on Easter Island.
If you like Japan...
Princess Cruises captures the diversity of the Land of the Rising Sun in a five-day, Tokyo-to-Taipei cultural tour. Board the 2,670-passenger Diamond Princess in the electric city of Tokyo, which blends tranquil Shinto shrines and frenetic retail districts. Next up: iconic Mount Fuji, a snowcapped, 12,388-foot backdrop to temples and tea ceremonies. From Kobe, visit the sixteenth-century Osaka Castle, and on tropical Okinawa, see the Shikina-en Garden, built for eighteenth-century royals. 
On-land exploration on a Princess Cruises’ sailing in Japan.
On-land exploration on a Princess Cruises’ sailing in Japan.
...then you’ll love:
Two of Asia’s most dynamic capitals, Hong Kong and Tokyo, bookend Oceania Cruises16-day voyage from China to Japan via Taiwan and Korea. The 684-passenger Nautica anchors for two nights in Shanghai, offering ample time to explore the ancient-yet-modern city via walking tours, shadowboxing clinics, and acrobat shows. From Seoul, tour the DMZ (the demilitarized zone between North and South Korea), and continue to Japan for the ramen stalls of Fukuoka and the historic shrines of Hososhima.
 
Wander the tropical Malay Peninsula with Star Clippers on an eight-day round-trip-from-Phuket sailing. Guests visit a mix of beachy and urban destinations in Thailand and Malaysia, swim in crystal-clear water off Ko Butang in Thailand, and stroll the mix of colonial forts and modern skyscrapers of George Town in Penang, Malaysia. The 170-passenger Star Clipper also sails to a string of pristine national-park-protected shores on the way back to photogenic Phuket.
If you like the Mediterranean...
Plunge into the region’s maritime culture with Regent Seven Seas Cruises13-day Venice-to-Barcelona sailing. During the seven-country tour, the 750-passenger Seven Seas Splendor drops anchor in Sicily for views of active volcano Mount Etna and fresh arancini (deep fried rice balls); Greece’s Argostoli, home of a locally-focused architecture museum and seaside cafes; and small but mighty Monte Carlo, where travelers can try to spot the royal family by day and hit the casinos by night.
The sundeck of Silversea Cruises’ Silver Spirit. 
The sundeck of Silversea Cruises’ Silver Spirit. 
...then you’ll love: 
On the eastern side of Italy, the Adriatic offers a mix of breezy ports and storied seaside towns. Silversea Cruises12-day round-trip-from-Venice sailing strings together cultural destinations, beach escapes, and off-the-beaten-path discoveries in Italy, Croatia, and Greece aboard the 608-passenger Silver Spirit. Highlights include exploring the medieval walls surrounding Dubrovnik, hiking to the forts above Corfu, and kayaking around the moored yachts of Hvar. 
 
Celebrate the long days of summer in the culture-rich ports edging northern Europe on Celebrity Cruisesround-trip-from-Amsterdam, 13-day sailing on the 3,046-passenger Celebrity Reflection. The sailing highlights many Baltic ports, from Copenhagen to Russia’s cultural capital. Guests have two full days in Saint Petersburg to discover the palaces, museums, and concerts for which it’s famous. Added attractions: full days in the design-loving Scandinavian capitals of Copenhagen, Stockholm, and Helsinki
Call on Copenhagen during a Celebrity Cruises’ voyage.
Call on Copenhagen during a Celebrity Cruises’ voyage.
Photo by Alxpin/Getty Images 
If you like Alaska...
Holland America Line sends eight ships seasonally to Alaska on itineraries that last from seven to 21 days. The line visits Glacier Bay National Park and Preserve on a seven-day round-trip-from-Seattle itinerary aboard the 2,104-passenger Eurodam. In addition to offering whale-watching opportunities, the ship calls at the colorful lumberjack town of Ketchikan, wildlife-rich Sitka, and capital city Juneau, which sits just about 12 miles from the mighty Mendenhall Glacier.
Alaska’s Glacier Bay National Park.
Alaska’s Glacier Bay National Park.
Photo by Gomez David/Getty Images
...then you’ll love:
Float past icebergs the size of castles and fjords choked with glacial ice aboard Hurtigruten’s soon-to-launch 530-passenger Fridtjof Nansen on a 16-day adventure around Greenland. Eighty percent of the country is covered by ice year-round, making summer the season to walk its tundra, wildlife-view from kayaks, and visit Viking settlements. Citizen science initiatives offer opportunities to collect data and examine samples under Science Center microscopes along the route. 
 
Crystal Cruises is reinventing the wanderlist-worthy Antarctic cruise by building a luxury yacht, the anticipated 200-passenger Crystal Endeavor, and sending it where few luxury vessels have gone before. The all-suite, butler-serviced Endeavor will have a glass-enclosed solarium and spa and will offer a helicopter and submarine for excursions. Its 12-day Antarctic Peninsula sailings use Zodiacs for excursions to penguin colonies and around 800 miles of ice-covered mountains. 
 Crystal Cruises’ Crystal Endeavor and the ship’s seven-person submersible.
 Crystal Cruises’ Crystal Endeavor and the ship’s seven-person submersible.
If you like the Caribbean...
The soon-to-debut Virgin Voyages takes the idea of a floating resort to extremes with the 2,770-passenger Scarlet Lady. The new ship hosts more than 20 bars and restaurants – including a karaoke room and The Test Kitchen, a cooking-school-cum-restaurant – balanced by lavish wellness amenities, such as an outdoor yoga terrace and a training camp area. Six-day Florida-Mexico voyages sail round-trip from Miami for the Costa Maya, allowing passengers to visit jungle-shrouded ruins and technicolor reefs.
An al fresco meal onboard Windstar Cruises’ Wind Star. 
An al fresco meal onboard Windstar Cruises’ Wind Star. 
...then you’ll love:
Island-hopping acquires educational and cultural accents on Greek island sailings with Windstar Cruises. Seven-day itineraries on board the four-mast, 148-passenger Wind Star string together Aegean pearls, from Athens and beach-clubby Mykonos to the whitewashed towns of Santorini and the early Christian sites of Patmos. In Kusadasi, Turkey, guests explore the ancient Greek ruins of Ephesus, a UNESCO World Heritage site, before a private dinner on-site. 
 
Royal Caribbean International makes the Bahamas long-weekend-getaway material for families. During four-day, round-trip-from-Miami voyages, the 3,386-passenger Navigator of the Seas offers thrills such as a surf simulator pool, a rock-climbing wall, and the longest waterslide at sea. A land-bound water park with seven waterslides – including the tallest in North America, at 135 feet – awaits on the cruise line’s private island Perfect Day at CocoCay. 
A pool deck made for the whole gang on Royal Caribbean’s Navigator of the Seas.
A pool deck made for the whole gang on Royal Caribbean’s Navigator of the Seas.
If you like Africa...
Explore the continent’s urban and wild sides with Azamara during an 11-day South Africa voyage aboard the 686-passenger Azamara Quest. From cosmopolitan Cape Town, guests sail to Port Elizabeth to visit Addo Elephant National Park, a refuge supporting the world’s densest populations of pachyderms. Get face time with white rhinos in Richards Bay and experience the unique blend of Zulu, Indian, and European cultures that make up the city of Durban. 
A lounge on board Uniworld’s Ganges Voyager II. 
A lounge on board Uniworld’s Ganges Voyager II. 
...then you’ll love:
Spiritual and artistic stimulation abounds in India on 13-day trips with Uniworld Boutique River Cruise Collection. From New Delhi, visits to the Taj Mahal – at both sunrise and sunset – and the “Pink City” of Jaipur precede a weeklong sailing on the sacred Ganges River aboard the 56-passenger Ganges Voyager II. The itinerary includes a stop at Kalna, India’s temple city, the brass workshops of Matiari, and a cricket pitch. 
 
Discover the ancient trading ports and unique desert cultures of the Middle East during a 20-day, Dubai-to-Athens Seabourn voyage aboard the 600-passenger Seabourn Ovation. From the “City of Gold,” sail to Sir Bani Yas Island, home to more than 13,000 wild animals, including cheetahs, giraffes, and Arabian oryx. Visit the falcon souk in Doha, Qatar, and the imposing forts of Muscat, Oman, before sailing on for Petra, Jordan’s sandstone-carved world wonder. To end the journey, the ship sails through the Suez Canal to reach Jerusalem en route to Athens. 
A memorable stop on Seabourn’s 20-day sailing: Petra, Jordan. 
A memorable stop on Seabourn’s 20-day sailing: Petra, Jordan. 

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