There are so many great new ships and cruises to pick from in 2019, that choosing just one is a tough call. My solution? Make your New Year’s resolution to treat yourself to one for each season. Here’s what I’ve got my eye on:
If you like wine, you’ll love Uniworld River Cruises Brilliant Bordeaux sailings on the Garonne and Dordogne rivers in southwest France. There are wine tastings most days and, from April, a new river ship. S.S. Bon Voyage is actually Uniworld’s River Royale with a new look and new name. She’ll have a pool, extra suites, smart new bathrooms and a choice of restaurants including a casual eatery by the pool and French bistro in the bow.
Eating is something I did plenty of on Celebrity Edge. Last November, she went straight from the French shipyard where she was built to her winter home in Fort Lauderdale and I was lucky enough to be one of the first people to get on her - she is simply stunning! The good news is she’s coming back to Europe next spring and maker the UK her first stop. She’s heading to the Mediterranean on a 10-night cruise from Southampton to Civitavecchia, the port for Rome, departing 15th May.
Wait until May and you can join Cunard’s iconic Queen Elizabeth as she ventures to the last frontier on a miniseries of cruises to Alaska. We’re talking whales, bears and icy glaciers.
If it’s July, it has to be Spirit of Discovery, Saga Cruises’ first-ever new ship. She’ll be British through and through, have all-balcony cabins and suites and 109 rooms for solo travellers. She’ll also have five places to eat including The Club by Jools, in partnership with music legend Jools Holland and from 2020, drinks-inclusive prices.
Staying closer to home, 6th June markets the 75th anniversary of the D-Day landings in Normandy and Azamara is saluting the heroic efforts of those who took part with a remembrance cruise that will visit Cherbourg and Honfleur on 5th and 6th June. This also includes excursions to the landing beaches, Pegasus Bridge and Arromanches, where you can see the remains of the Mulberry Harbour built to get troops ashore. The cruise is from Barcelona to Greenwich depart 28th May.
Further afield, Emerald Waterways new ship, Emerald Harmony, joins Angkor Wat, Ho Chi Minh City and Phnom Penh. History, culture and exotic markets are yet another good reason for cruising the Mekong River in Vietnam and Cambodia. Emerald Harmony will have an outdoor pool, bar and two swanky Owners Suites with wrap-around terraces and hot tubs. She launches in August and will sail seven-night cruises between Siem Reap and Ho Chi Minh City that can be added to stays in Hanoi and Ha Long Bay.
Cruisers loved Norwegian Bliss so much that Norwegian Cruise Line is giving us an encore. Norwegian Encore comes out at the end of October and will have go-karts, laser tag, a water park and high-speed flumes. But what’s in the theatre? An unlikely story about a shoe factory, dancing drag queens and red boots to die for. If you’ve never seen Kinky Boots the Musical, book a cruise, take your seat and get ready for a fun two-hour show.
Talking of dancing, as the autumn leaves start to fall, Scenic’s swish new discovery yacht will be seeking out the sights and sounds of Cuba on a voyage from Nassau in the Bahamas, to Havana. Cuba is my favourite island in all the Caribbean for its lively spirit and interesting history, while Scenic Eclipse promises to be a fabulous vessel, with all-balcony accommodation, numerous places to eat and a spa made for pampering, could you want a more perfect combination? The cruise departs on 7th October and includes overnight stays in Havana, Santiago de Cuba and Cienfuegos.
Why stay in the UK in winter when you can cruise Antarctica in summer on Hurtigruten’s new ship MS Roald Amundsen? True, it’ll still be pretty nippy down at the South Pole, even if it is high summer, but the scenery is out of this world and you’ll be sailing on the first-ever cruise ship able to switch to battery power now and then and cruise silently among the icebergs. Magical!
If you don’t fancy getting your chills at the ends of the earth, Fred. Olsen Cruise Lines Islands of Indonesia voyage in search of Komodo dragons might be just the ticket. You’ll sail from Phuket in Thailand to Bali, have a few hours to seek out the giant lizards and a day in Semarang and enjoy a gateway to stunning Borobudur Temple, 60 miles from the city. It’s famous for having been hidden in the jungle for 1,000 years and was only rediscovered in 1814 by Sir Stamford Raffles - the very same man who founded Singapore.