There is so much choice out there today for cruising holidays, where to start in deciding what sort of cruise you want to go on and where can be a daunting task, however don’t worry we are here to help you make sense of it all and decide!
Just this year, 30 new ships are joining the world’s fleet of ocean-going and river vessels featuring ground-breaking designs, eco-friendly innovations and swish techno toys and these are not just hallmarks of the new ships, older ships are also being upgraded.
Celebrity Cruises and Royal Caribbean International are two cruise lines leading the way. Royal Caribbean has focused in on families, things to keep the kids entertained at sea include a glow-in-the-dark laser experience on new ship Symphony of the Seas and sister ship Independence of the Seas has undergone a multimillion pound revamp that includes waterslides, children’s aqua park Splashaway Bay, plus an onboard trampoline virtual reality experience, laser tag and an Escape Room. For those who thought that cruising is not for families, that is certainly not the case anymore and as any parent knows, happy children equal’s happy parents!
Celebrity Cruises is making big waves with the launch of Celebrity Edge, it features the world’s first cantilevered, floating platform reaching exhilarating heights of 13 stories above sea level, the Magic Carpet glides up and down the side of the ship while transforming into a restaurant, deck space and embarkation area. Some of the best views aboard are to be found here as you soar over the open ocean while you dine, drink, or simply relax. This certainly sounds like an unforgettable experience.
Technology is coming to the forefront of cruising, Royal Caribbean have launched a new app, available on Symphony of the Seas, that can be used for everything from checking in and keeping an eye on your spending, to messaging friends and family and booking restaurants, shore excursions and shows whilst on board. Celebrity Edge is also in on the technology act to include digital ‘keys’ on smartphones to open cabin doors, and once in your cabin you will be able to control lighting, room temperature and service via a touchscreen panel. With a Virtual Concierge app, you can order drinks, make restaurant bookings and book shore excursions and a map on the app will help you find your way around the ship.
Cruising is all about dining and Celebrity Cruises purports to have ‘the best dining experience at sea – period’. They place an emphasis on delivering a diverse and authentic culinary journey on board, using local ingredients of the destinations your cruise is visiting to inspire the Michelin-starred dishes served. Celebrity Edge has four main restaurants – Tuscan, Cyprus, Normandie and Cosmopolitan. On Celebrity Edge you will even see an animated 3D character, Le Petit Chef, prepare food right in front of your eyes.
Looking after the mind, body and soul is in Celebrity’s DNA with lots of options for chilling out and pampering. Celebrity Edge takes it to the next level, with salt, steam and rainfall rooms and wellness massages and treatments that will renew, restore and reinvigorate you.
Evening entertainment is a ‘must do’ on a cruise and the choice aboard Royal Caribbean ships is hard to beat for both variety and quality, which ranges from musicals such as Greece and Hairspray to ice-skating shows and on Royal’s four giant Oasis-class ships you will marvel at daredevil divers in the Aqua Theatre.
On board Celebrity there are ‘fantastic’ theatre shows, which range from music and dance performances such as the Rock City anthem concert to breath-taking aerial acrobatics.
Cruising will always be about visiting new countries, experiencing new cultures, eating local cuisine and immersing yourself in the places to stop off at, the Med has all of this and more.
Greece is always a top Med choice and Croatia is an increasingly popular place to visit, Royal Caribbean has combined the two for a seven-night cruise. It starts and finishes in Venice, which speaks for itself.
Hidden gems along the way include Dubrovnik, a UNESCO World Heritage treasure. Walk the city’s fabled ancient walls for spectacular views of the coast, be overawed by the magnificent marble streets and Baroque buildings or soak up sea and sun on the beautiful beaches. Cliff side cafes, cool clubs, live music, open-air cinemas and even a bar inside a cave add to the fun. With its stunning mountains and World Heritage Site status, Kotor is a hidden gem. Explore the ancient ramparts of this fabulous medieval city for some breath-taking views over the Adriatic. Savour delicious local specialities such as seafood, cured meats and pastries in the fascinating Old Town or swim, snorkel and kayak in the sapphire seas. For bird watchers, pelicans and flamingos are some of Montenegro’s other hidden treasures.
Back to Greece and next up is Santorini which will take your breath away. Be spellbound by sun-kissed beaches, cobalt seas, dazzling white houses, bright blue domes and dramatic volcanic mountains. Wander in lovely villages with narrow streets and winding steps, tasting a meze, Greek wine or pastry along the way. Secluded coves, hot springs and ancient settlements only increase the charms of this stunning island. Finally discover the fascinating site of the first Olympic Games in 776 BC. Pretty Katakolon is the gateway to ancient Olympia, one of Greece’s most important landmarks. Imagine the roar of 30,000 spectators as you tour this amazing site or see the artefacts in the archaeological museum. Watch the world go by on Katakolon’s seafront, savouring Greek specialities such as grilled octopus, feta cheese pies or fried calamari.
Celebrity Edge will be based in Europe, with sailings from Barcelona, Rome and Southampton in summer 2019 so is very accessible from the UK.
This cruise starts in Rome, where there is an enormous wealth of culture and history to discover. Visit the ancient halls of the 50,000-seat Colosseum, gaze upon the ceilings of Sistine Chapel in Vatican City, and stroll the Capitoline Museum. Walk the cobblestoned piazzas making your way to narrow side streets where you’re sure to find craftsman shops and beautiful boutiques filled with gorgeous handmade accessories and homewares for keepsakes and souvenirs.
Located on the east coast of Sicily, Catania is situated at the foot of the largest volcano in Europe, Mount Etna. Elegant, modern, and an important hub in Europe’s tech industry, Catania is also rich with baroque architecture, medieval castles, Roman era theatres, and a flourishing cultural and artistic centre.
Here on the island of Santorini, you’ll find a classic Greek seascape—whitewashed houses accented by sea-blue roofs. This is a treasure trove for both professional and amateur archaeology buffs, with sites that include tombs that date back to the 9th century and the sanctuary of Apollo. In many ways, Santorini could be considered an explosive place, being that its terraced collection of homes and windmills lie on a caldera-- a huge basin formed by an erupting volcano. The island’s volcanic past has also produced delicious grapes for excellent wines that are well worth investigating while on your Santorini cruise. Some of the best on the island can be found in Pyrgos, Megalochori, and Oia. Oia’s hilltop not only has the ancient, Minoan site of Akrotiri, it is quite possibly the best vantage point from which to witness the spectacular sunsets. And, if you have some time, take a short trip to the island of Nea Kameni for a dip in its famous hot springs. The warm dark waters are enriched with iron and manganese and considered therapeutic.
Athens brought the world drama, history, poetry, and philosophy. Once home to the world's most powerful and civilized empires, Athens is now the world's foremost archaeological playground. The towering columns of the Parthenon still stand in homage to the virgin goddess Athena. The Parthenon sits atop the Athenian Acropolis and watches over the city where it can be seen from just about anywhere in Athens. Make it a point to visit the incredible Acropolis Museum, the joint effort between two architects, one American and the other Greek, this outstanding building was completed and opened to the public in 2009. It focuses primarily on the Greek period dating to 5 B.C., considered to be the apex of art, culture, and philosophy in ancient Greece, it also has artefacts from the Bronze, Roman, and Byzantine Ages. There’s even a Plexiglas walkway from which an excavated section of an old Athenian neighbourhood can be viewed. In addition to an abundance of historical riches, modern Athens has plenty on offer from scenic beaches to restaurants with superb Mediterranean cuisine and bustling central markets.
Mykonos is known for its whitewashed villages sprinkled with blue and jade green. It's also famous for its sophisticated nightlife. The most popular island in the Cyclades is bustling with activity, awash in beautiful alleyways, and home to alluring sandy beaches.
Nafplio is a seaport town in the Peloponnese in Greece that has expanded up the hillsides near the north end of the Argolic Gulf.
Katakolon, a small port on the Ionian coast is your gateway to ancient Olympia, the home of the original Olympic Games. Olympia has preserved both athletic and mythological monuments, many dating back to 776 BC. Most intriguing is the stadium, which is still standing, and the gymnasium. The museum also offers a peek at fabulous Greek sculptures. This Grecian port city is also the gateway to one of the most important archaeological sites in the world, the ruins of ancient Olympia. As the birthplace of the Olympics, the great stadium still echoes the cheering of the first superstars of sport. Enter the stadium and pose in the marble starting blocks where the first marathoners once stood. Take a scenic drive through the small Greek villages on the way to Kouroutas Beach and spend three hours relaxing under the sun, swimming, and soaking up a perfect Greek beach day. Soak up the gorgeous Katakolon waterfront views while savouring traditional Greek specialties, like pastitsio or moussaka at one of the quaint tavernas and cafes offering shady outdoor tables. And of course, an abundance of calamari and other fresh seafood brought in by local fishermen are always on menus.
The walled city of Valletta was founded in 1565 by the Knights of St. John and it remains a masterfully preserved medieval treasure. From the glittering baroque interior of the Co-Cathedral of St. John to the charm found wandering the old cobbled avenues, it’s no wonder this tiny city has earned World Heritage status. Hidden among the foreboding fortresses and decorative masterpieces is a city with growing appreciation for contemporary design, exciting, culinary offerings, and burgeoning nightlife scene. Maltese cuisine is a fusion of Mediterranean dishes and influences with touches of French and Sicilian. Fresh seafood and the Maltese wines from the distinguished local vineyards are always on the menu. Stroll along the cobblestone streets of Mdina to see its medieval churches, cathedrals, and palaces. Experience two Maltese treasures: The Blue Grotto and Marsaxlokk village. Or, set off on a Maltese sightseeing adventure beginning at Valleta’s Upper Barrakka Gardens. It’s a wonderfully small capital that’s bursting with stories.
Framed by Mount Vesuvius along a dramatic skyline, the 2,800-year old port city of Naples is full of historical sites, churches, and museums that make it a fascinating place for you to explore. For all of Rome’s notoriety and reputation, Naples, with its historic city centre deemed a UNESCO World Heritage Site, has just as many important archaeological sites and landmarks. Visit the Museo Archeologico Nazionale for a world-class collection of Egyptian and Graeco-Roman artefacts. Exploring Naples from below the ground is a must. Start with a trip into the basement of the San Lorenzo Maggiore church where you’ll find a partially excavated Roman market and a little deeper, just below the Roman ruins, you’ll find remnants from the Greeks to discover. And in the region where pizza was first invented, you know the food is going to be incredible. Whether you’re looking for a thin, wood-fired Margherita pie, spaghetti alle vongole or a zeppole dusted with confectioner’s sugar, Naples and her bountiful edible treasures is sure to please. Only 35 miles down the coast, Salerno offers you a rich history, and boasts a marvellous collection of parks, natural wonders, and unique vantage points to take in the beauty of the Tyrrhenian Sea. Two cities on one incredible stretch of Italian coastline.