5 October 2017 by Simon Langley
Our specialists constantly keep up to date with the latest and greatest in the cruise industry. And, having sailed the routes and stayed on the finest ships, this is their selection of 2018’s best cruises. What’s more, many have been tailor made so you can get the most out of your trip, whether that means a stay in a Venetian palace or a trip through the Ecuadorian Andes aboard a historic steam train.
For the perfect combination of authentic adventure and all-inclusive luxury, look no further than the Silver Galápagos. Just like its island hosts, guest numbers are exclusively limited, making for a truly boutique experience. It’s something perhaps best felt in the flawless butler service offered in each luxury suite, with the fine dining extended right to your room. Expect to enjoy the finest local seafood on your private balcony as you gaze over the waters your meal was just caught in. And what views they’ll be. You’ll slip between volcanic islands, stopping off for a full spread of included excursions. Led by the ship’s very own expedition team of expert naturists, you’ll spot everything from giant tortoises and marine iguanas to penguins and blue-footed boobies on lava hikes, kayak trips and snorkel drives. Then, each day, you’ll return to the likes of on-deck Jacuzzis and open-bar indulgences. Our curated itinerary pairs it all with a steam-train ride through the Andes and a stay among the Ecuadorian capital’s colonial charms.
The Adriatic’s rich heritage
In terms of the ultimate in history and culture, look to Seven Seas’ Adriatic offering. You’ll begin with the floating grandeur of Venice before comparing the medieval severity of Croatia’s Split with the terracotta beauty of Montenegro’s Kotor. Then, it’s island hopping in Greece before you swing back through the rural charm of Italy’s Tuscany and Slovenia’s Koper. Few voyages can match this heady concentration of countries and pasts. But, what makes this sailing truly special is the sheer wealth of excursions included, with each destination offering multiple different ways to get right to its cultural heart. One moment you could be enjoying a private concert in a Montenegrin temple and the next tasting your way through the best of Corfu’s vineyards or taking in a folkloric dance performance after touring the ruins of Olympia. Of course, the all-inclusive delights extend back on board, from gourmet dining and poolside cocktails right down to your suite’s minibar. On our tailor-made itinerary, we’ve paired it with a luxury stay in Venice and a trip aboard one of the world’s most luxurious rail journeys – the Venice Simplon-Orient-Express.
Italy and Greece for foodies
If your taste buds like to travel as much as you do, head aboard Oceania’s Riviera; no other cruise line spends more per person per day on their raw ingredients. And it shows. Expect French tasting menus to provide a culinary education, sushi chefs to rival Tokyo’s best eateries and afternoon teas to transport you back to a time more refined. It’s all inspired by flavours from the ship’s route, which pays particular attention to the Greek islands. You’ll stop off at everywhere from Cephalonia’s vineyard-ringed monasteries and the ancient treasures of Rhodes to the glitz of Mykonos and Santorini’s clifftop tumble of historic whitewash. You’ll also drop anchor to explore the walled city of Dubrovnik and Montenegro’s Kotor, each packed full of historic intrigue. Of course, this being a foodies’ trip, our itinerary includes a pre-cruise Italian showcase, with a spa stay on Lake Garda and two nights among Venice’s canal labyrinth.
For many, the great rivers of Europe are the ultimate in cruising. Nowhere else in the world is so much life, so much heritage and so much beauty found in such concentration. And, our chosen itinerary combines two of its most storied waterways – the Rhine and the Danube. Starting in the west with Amsterdam’s pretty canals, your route will see you wind through Holland, Germany, Austria and Hungary, ending with the palaces and hot springs of Budapest. But, along with such great cities as Vienna and Cologne, you’ll also take in the riverbank less travelled with Germany’s quaint castle towns and Franconia villages. It’s all brought to life on a full spread of included excursions, with highlights ranging from chartered Alpine train rides and tastings in award-winning wineries to private cocktail concerts and banquets held in palatial ballrooms. There’s also plenty of luxury back on board, with multi-course degustation dinners washed down with complimentary drinks – the Sun Deck’s swim-up bar is a particular favourite.
Like the Galápagos above, Alaska offers something of the remote. But, if truth be told, Alaska is an altogether wilder proposition. Glaciers ooze down giant valleys, towering mountaintops are capped by snow-dusted peaks and, in its interior, old-growth forests are fed by cascading waterfalls. It’s majestic scenery animated by bald eagles and humpback whales along with a fascinating local culture. Alongside the saloons of its gold rush outposts – one of which was once known as the “Roughest Town in the World” – there’s also an intriguing indigenous past that plays out over totem-dotted clan houses and paddles in dugout canoes. Our chosen sailing will also see you board Condé Nast Traveler’s favourite ship for an all-inclusive spread of fine wines, spa relaxation and theatre performances. We’ve also paired it with a trip into the Canadian Rockies aboard the Rocky Mountaineer, a truly spectacular rail journey.