A cruise holiday is one of the most enjoyable, relaxing holiday experiences we can think of. From the moment of your leisurely departure, you need only to unpack your bags and settle in, with the anticipation of new destinations to explore each day. If you haven’t already tried a cruise holiday, maybe 2018 will be your year. Here are some of our favourite cruise destinations, and why we think you should give them a try.
Nestled between France and Italy, in the heart of the Western Mediterranean, lies the island of Corsica. Cruise ships call at the port of Ajaccio on the western side of the island, where you could easily spend your day ashore simply enjoying the natural beauty of the harbour, dining on incredibly fresh seafood in the waterfront restaurants or browsing the stylish shops. Venture beyond Ajaccio and your efforts will be rewarded with dramatic gorges, picturesque rivers and lakes and photogenic villages aplenty.
Russia’s second-largest city was founded by Tsar Peter the Great in the eighteenth century. It’s home to more than 200 museums, including the Hermitage, which is housed within the spectacular and vast buildings of the Winter Palace. From the beautiful, coloured mosaics of the Church of the Saviour to the spectacular gardens of Peterhof Palace, this city is magical at any time of year.
With all-day sunshine almost guaranteed, this little island should need no further reason for enjoyment. But if you want to venture beyond its main beaches, head for Arikok National Park – a desert-like landscape with a crystal-clear natural rock swimming pool that’s best reached by quad bike or on horseback.
Winding through the hillside curves of the Douro Valley, you’ll have plenty of opportunities to sample the wines for which this region is best known. In Porto, climb the 240 steps to the top of the Torre dos Clérigos bell tower for panoramic views of the city or stroll the medieval riverfront neighbourhood of Ribeira, stopping for a locally-produced port and pesticos – the Portuguese version of tapas.
It’s difficult to get to Sitka without travelling by boat: this small but pretty town sits on the island of Baranof and was once the capital city of Russian Alaska. Today, its position on Sitka Sound, with the extinct volcanic cone of Mt Edgecumbe providing a dramatic backdrop, makes it an excellent place for wildlife spotting, including humpback whales and sea otters, brown bears and American bald eagles.
Myanmar’s Irrawaddy River is a cruise destination that’s becoming increasingly popular as the country opens up more to tourism. The river stretches from the delta region of Yangon in the south, more than 700 kilometres north to the country’s second-largest city, Mandalay, and beyond. During your time ashore in Mandalay, be sure to visit a golf leaf workshop to see how this most precious of materials is used in creating works of art, before seeing its application on Mahamuni Pagoda’s gleaming golden Buddha.
From the buzzing nightlife of Havana to the quaint cobblestone streets of Santiago de Cuba, there’s nowhere quite like Cuba. Explore the Havana neighbourhoods in a brightly-coloured classic American car or find a nightclub in which to practice your salsa dancing; then join the dancing in one of Santiago’s colourful carnivals or relax on one of its beautiful sandy beaches.
This tiny, uninhabited island is a fantastic place for snorkelling, swimming and generally enjoying the warm clear waters that surround it. To experience the real Vanuatu, pay a visit to the neighbouring island of Aneityum, where you’ll be treated to a taste of local cuisine, culture, history and village life.
One of the best-known fiords in a region that’s riddled with them, the clear waters and soaring peaks of Milford Sound are spectacular regardless of the weather, and when it rains (which is often), the mountainsides are transformed into cascading waterfalls. Keep an eye out for resident marine life, including seals, dolphins and whales, as well as kea – a cheeky mountain parrot which has a penchant for stealing from unsuspecting visitors.
Kauai is an island that seems to have been designed to be seen from the air – from the dramatic Na Pali coastline to the deep ravines of Waimea Canyon. It also offers beautiful beaches, quiet, laidback beach towns and Makauwahi Cave: a little-known sinkhole that’s rich with ancient fossils and artefacts. Be sure to sample some of the excellent, locally-grown coffee while you’re on the island too.
Planning a cruise holiday in 2018? Talk to your personal travel manager today.