10 incredible cruises now that (some of) the world is back open

·5-min read

At last, after months out of action, cruise ships are setting sail once more. With the double-jabbed now free to visit amber-listed countries without having to quarantine on their return, a summer voyage is suddenly feasible for thousands of people, and the response has been overwhelming – many cruise companies are reporting that cabins are selling out within hours of going on sale. But fear not, there's plenty of space left for those hoping to embark on a seafaring adventure this year. Here are ten of the best.

1. Spain and Italy uncovered

This family-friendly cruise offers great value for money and packs in plenty of culture, along with some popular Mediterranean ports. Marella Discovery calls at Livorno for excursions to Milan and Pisa; Savona for visits to the maritime port of Genoa and the Alps-hemmed city of Turin; Monaco; Toulon for the Côte d’Azur, and finally Barcelona and Palma, in the Balearics. The ship has plentiful bars and restaurants and an outdoor cinema. Family suites and family junior suites are kitted out with a chalkboard and a PlayStation 4, and there is also a rock- climbing wall, a mini-golf course and indoor and outdoor pools.

A seven-night Mediterranean Medley cruise costs from £1,079pp including flights, all drinks (including alcohol) and transfers. Departs August 31 2021, from Bournemouth, Bristol or Cardiff (020 3636 1862; tui.co.uk).

2. All’s well on a Greek cruise

The Elysium is a new yacht on the Greek islands cruising circuit and will sail with a resident yoga, meditation and wellness coach. The yacht’s 25 stylish, wood-panelled rooms include single, double and triple cabins as well as interconnecting family suites. Activities include scuba diving and volcano trekking while in Zakynthos; and in Spetses, horse-riding excursions will take in coastal scenery, olive groves and rural villages.

An eight-day Grecian Trails (Crete and Peloponnese) cruise costs from €1,750pp departing between July 31 and October 30 2021. The price includes most meals but excludes flights and port taxes. Single supplement applies (01273 836600; elixir.cruises).

Jumièges Abbey - Getty
Jumièges Abbey - Getty

3. Flower power in France

The half-timbered houses and apple orchards of the Pays d’Auge, a clutch of France’s most emblematic cities, the Côte Fleurie (flower coast) and the ruins of one of its grandest Norman abbeys all feature on this CroisiEurope cruise on the Seine. Departing from Paris, the itinerary visits Rouen, Duclair (for the riverside ruins of Jumièges on the Norman abbey circuit) and finishes at the port of Honfleur, for Calvados tasting, and the ribbons of sand at Deauville and Trouville.

A six-night Paris to the Côte Fleurie cruise on the MS Botticelli costs from £1,080pp departing on September 2 2021. Includes drinks with meals but excludes flights (020 8328 1281; croisieurope.co.uk).

4. Ice, ice baby

Explore Iceland’s rugged Westfjords, the Snæfellsnes Peninsula (Snow Mount’s Peninsula) and the otherworldly landscapes of Akureyri, on board Ponant’s elegant ship, Le Dumont-d’Urville. This cruise also calls at Heimaey, known for its nesting puffins, and the remote island of Grimsey, which straddles the Arctic Circle. Built in 2019, Le Dumont-d’Urville has 92 cosy, Nordic-style rooms and suites, a stylish pool deck and two gourmet restaurants.

An eight-day Icelandic Mosaic cruise round trip from Reykjavik costs from £4,639pp departing on July 28 2021. Includes flights and transfers (020 7399 7670; mundycruising.co.uk).

5. Small-scale Caribbean

The 312-passenger Star Breeze set sail in June, fresh from a major refurbishment that brought cabins and restaurants bang up to date and lengthened her stylish profile by a significant 84ft. Built with a retractable water sports platform, the nimble ship is match-made for the smaller ports of the Caribbean islands. This cruise, sailing from St Martin to Barbados, concentrates on an arc of islands that are known collectively as the Lesser Antilles, making port calls at Gustavia, Little Bay, Îles des Saintes and Roseau.

A seven-night Lush and Lovely Islands of the Lesser Antilles cruise, sailing aboard Star Breeze, costs from £1,376pp. Excludes flights (0161 516 8531; panachecruises.com).

douro cruise uniworld
douro cruise uniworld

6. Douro delights for all

The newest river ship on the Douro, the SS São Gabriel, will impress luxury-minded travellers with its wine-tasting cellar, spa, outdoor pool and butler service. The ship will wend its way through the Douro Valley’s steep, vine-combed slopes, offering vineyard hikes and lunches and private tastings at charming quintas (wine estates). On day four the river intersects the Côa Valley – where an excursion to Portugal’s first Archaeological Park reveals thousands of prehistoric engravings, etched into the schist.

An eight-day Douro River Valley cruise starts from £2,699 per person, departing on July 25 2021. Includes premium spirits and wine, excursions and flights and transfers (0808 252 5878; uniworld.com).

7. Go solo in Italy

October, when the humidity has subsided and Venice is often bathed in sunshine, is one of the loveliest months to visit. Luxury barge operator European Waterways has just relaunched its annual solo cruise – a gastronomic journey through the wetlands of the Po, to the Renaissance city of Mantua. Wine-paired cuisine on board the 20-passenger La Bella Vita is a highlight; ashore there is a dinner at a riverside villa, hosted by a countess, and a wine tasting in the 16th-century cellars at Villa Widmann-Borletti, where ancient vines were once tended by Benedictine monks.

From £3,990pp single occupancy or £5,780pp for friends sharing a cabin, departing on October 10 2021. Excludes flights (01753 598 555; europeanwaterways.com).

8. Legendary experiences

Offering great value for money on its mid-size ships, Greek-owned Celestyal is ideal for those dipping a toe into cruising. Greece’s sun-kissed islands and glittering seas rarely disappoint and the vibe on board is relaxed and fuss-free.

Until the end of August, Celestyal Olympia is sailing on a new, seven- night Legendary Archipelago itinerary, calling at Thessaloniki, Mykonos, Santorini, Agios Nikolaos, Rhodes and Limassol in Cyprus. From £759pp departing on July 19 2021. Includes drinks with meals and some excursions. Excludes flights (0800 411 8038; celestyal.com).

Glacier Bay National Park - Getty
Glacier Bay National Park - Getty

9. Go active in Alaska

Alaska’s austere beauty unfolds in ice-tipped peaks, fanciful glaciers, placid mountain lakes and acres of wilderness. This small-ship adventure to the Inside Passage and Glacier Bay National Park captures all of this and more – with opportunities for glacier walks, kayaking, paddleboarding, skiffing and watching for whales and other marine life. Expert insight into the State’s native culture and history will complete the experience.

A 12-night Cruise to Alaska: Inside Passage, Glacier Bay on board the Wilderness Explorer from Seattle to Juneau costs from $5,495pp/£3,973pp departing on August 29 2021. Excludes flights (00800 500 60006; uncruise.com).

10. Northern exposure for solos

Travelling by yourself? Hurtigruten not only has a “no single supplement” policy on this itinerary, it also has daily departures, which increases your chances of bagging a cruise. The route hugs the coast between Bergen and Kirkenes, close to the Russian border, and crosses the Arctic Circle, then sails into several dramatic fjords (including Unesco-listed Geirangerfjord) and cruises the bewitching Lofoten Archipelago.

A seven-day Classic Voyage North from Bergen to Kirkenes costs from £1,733pp, departing on September 5 2021. Excludes flights (020 3603 7112; hurtigruten.co.uk).

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