The idea is to inspire those who love cruising with all the new places they could go to and show those yet to set foot on a ship (apparently there are still a few!) all the amazing holidays they are missing.
‘Amazing’ is not hyperbole. Cruise the Mediterranean or Baltic and you can dip into history and culture in Rome, Venice, Athens and St. Petersburg, see world-class art in Florence and enjoy Scandinavian chic in Copenhagen and Stockholm. Add the Caribbean and Norwegian Fjords for beautiful sun-kissed islands and majestic landscapes topped with snowy peaks and creeping glaciers.
And there is so much more. I’ve cruised in Antarctica, the Arctic, the South Pacific, the Galápagos and Kimberley in Australia. I’ve visited Angkor Wat and Ho Chi Minh City on a river cruise through Vietnam and Cambodia, watched the sun set over the pagodas in Bagan on a voyage on the Ayeyarwady in Myanmar (Burma) and mixed with Hari Krishna worshippers sailing the Ganges in India. I’ve seen the mysterious Three Gorges on the Yangtze in China. And don’t get me started on European river cruising.
CLIA has divided Cruise Month into four weeks, each focusing on a different part of the world. Here are some of my suggestions of what you might like to consider for each.
Week one (2nd - 8th October)
Fancy island-hopping around Greece, cruising the Croatian coast or mixing with the jet-setters in the swanky French and Italian Rivieras? Seabourn’s Monte Carlo to Barcelona cruise next April has a bit of everything – floating gin palaces in St. Tropez and Santa Margherita, Napoleonic history in Ajaccio, where he was born, and Elba, where he was first exiled, and beaches in Palma de Mallorca.
If you’ve done the Mediterranean, there are cruises around the Norwegian Fjords, the Baltic and UK. The latter is a great – and cost-effective – way to visit Britain. You don’t need to fly, worry about traffic jams, high-priced hotels or changing currency. I can’t promise the UK weather will play ball though, so if you’re after sun, consider the Canary Islands. You can cruise to the islands from the UK with P&O Cruises, Fred. Olsen Cruise Lines and Celebrity Cruises.
If you can be tempted onto the rivers, APT’s Magnificent Europe is a fabulous journey with big cities, medieval towns, castles and vineyards – and as all tours are included (likewise drinks and tips) there is no excuse for missing anything.
Week two (9th - 15th October)
Americas and the Caribbean
If you are thinking New York, Miami and Barbados you are right – but missing some real gems. Head over the Atlantic and you could be cruising through the Panama Canal or around Cape Horn with Celebrity Cruises, or tiptoeing among penguins on a voyage to Antarctica with Hurtigruten.
You can even get your thrills (and chills) on an epic voyage from Valparaiso to Buenos Aires next November on Scenic’s swanky new yacht, Scenic Eclipse. It transits the Chilean Fjords (think Norwegian Fjords but better), visits the Falkland Islands and crosses the Drake Passage to Antarctica.
Cruises through the Inside Passage to Alaska – a land of giant glaciers, brown bears and whale-watching – are magical. If time allows, consider pairing a Holland America Line cruise with the Rocky Mountaineer train.
Week three (16th - 22nd October)
Must-see places in Australia include Sydney, Melbourne, Adelaide, Perth and Cairns (for the Great Barrier Reef); in New Zealand, you just have to tick off Auckland, Napier, Wellington and Dunedin. Luckily all are either on or near the coast – as if the two countries were made for cruising!
Norwegian Cruise Line and Celebrity Cruises have voyages around Australia and combining the two countries. For a New Zealand fest, Azamara Club Cruises has a 16-night voyage there in January 2019.
And if you have already done all that, how about setting sail through the South Pacific? Fiji, Samoa, French Polynesia. Things don’t get much more exotic than this.
Week four (23rd - 29th October)
Things don’t get more exotic than the South Pacific eh? Maybe not, but Asia gives it a pretty good run for its money.
You can sail in Thailand or around Indonesia on one of Star Clippers’ tall ships, ride pillion on a motorbike through the streets of Ho Chi Minh City – yes really, I have done it! – cruise through Halong Bay or visit night markets in Malaysia and Hong Kong. Head to the Far East and there are cruises to China, Japan and South Korea (if you go to Seoul, look for tours to the demilitarized zone to take a peek into North Korea).
Choose a Mekong river cruise on APT Travelmarvel’s La Marguerite to watch the sun set over Angkor Wat, ride in an ox cart, visit bustling markets and crawl through the Củ Chi Tunnels used by Viet Cong in the Vietnam War.
The last week of Cruise Month also celebrates voyages in the Indian Ocean and around the Middle East – a perfect fit with this land-based tour of India’s Golden Triangle (that’s the Taj Mahal and Amber Fort ticked off) combined with a cruise to Dubai on Silver Shadow and two nights in the Emirate. Time for some dune bashing in the desert, to ride the world’s fastest lift to the top of the world’s tallest building and shop ’til you drop – and then come home for a rest!