By Simon & Susan Veness
If like us, you already have one eye on next year in sea-going terms, you might like to consider some of the intriguing new options for cruises in 2019, as there are an array of really original voyages on offer.
With so many high-quality ships to choose from these days, it’s tempting just to grab a brochure, open a page at random and say ‘I want that one’ in your best Little Britain voice. You probably won’t go wrong, and you’ll annoy the heck out of Matt Lucas fans.
Talking of being annoying, can we also make an appeal (not for the first time) about not drinking too much on a cruise? With the latest example of someone going overboard from a cruise ship (happily, rescued after a 10-hour ordeal in the sea) and the strong suspicion that all-day drinking was involved before the person in question went sideways, you have to question the grey matter of those who think excessive alcohol and being miles out to sea are a good combination – and we mean the cruise lines that keep serving alcohol even though the Intoximeter is reading ‘Full’ as well as those who think it’s fun just to get drunk.
No matter HOW funny you think you are when you’ve had one too many, the simple fact is that you become the Cruise Bore and risk putting both yourself and the crew in jeopardy, especially if you go base over apex off the nearest balcony.
*Gets off Soapbox*
Now, where were we…? Ah yes. There are certainly the usual suspects in terms of providing a memorable cruise experience next year. Each of Silversea, Seabourn, Regent and Windstar have increasingly expansive programmes that are well worth perusing, but we think we have identified five genuine new experiences that ought to pique your cruise curiosity.
So, with no further ado, here is our pick of new cruises for 2019:
The British Isles by Cunard
What they say: “Liverpool is famed as the birthplace of The Beatles – and it remains our spiritual home, too. The Cunard Building stands proud as one of the ‘Three Graces,’ part of the waterfront that forms a UNESCO World Heritage Site. Queen Victoria’s arrival in Newcastle is a fleet first in 2019. You may head for the iconic Tyne Bridge or even Segedunum, the excavated Roman fort that once guarded one end of Hadrian’s Wall.”
What we think: Round-Britain cruises have become singularly in vogue in recent years (as we pointed out in a blog last month), but the idea of travelling around dear old Blighty in the cosy confines of a Cunard vessel just about puts the icing on the maritime cake. Queen Victoria’s 12-night voyage, departing August 11, sails round-trip from Southampton on a route that takes in Edinburgh, Glasgow, Invergordon and Belfast, as well as Liverpool, Newcastle and a final-day visit to Guernsey. OK, so it just misses out on Wales to complete the full UK picture, but we think this is an ideal way to visit some of our most historic cities and experience an indisputably great British cruise.
Viking World Cruise
What they say: “Join Viking Sun as she circumnavigates the globe and collects more travel milestones during one cruise than most people do in a lifetime. Cruise to six continents and visit 112 cities and charming smaller ports. Immerse yourself in local cultures with overnight stays in 22 destinations. Join us for an enriching odyssey on a voyage of discovery as we embark on an epic 245-day cruise.”
What we think: Odyssey and epic would certainly be the right words here! It’s not quite the 10-year voyage home of Odysseus, but, at a shade over eight months, this is the longest single cruise we’ve ever heard of, and, while we doubt if many will be able to make the full global circuit, it represents the most ambitious itinerary in modern times. Sailing round-trip from Greenwich on August 31, it includes 113 guided tours and 59 countries on a westward sailing that takes in the extremes of Greenland and the Middle East, as well as a full circumnavigation of South America. Let’s see anyone try to top this for inclusivity!
Crystal River Cruises
What they say: “In 2019, Crystal River Cruises’ five ships journey into the heart of Europe, travelling between Amsterdam, Basel, Budapest, Frankfurt and Vienna to explore the Danube, Rhine, Main and Moselle rivers on 148 unique itineraries ranging from seven to 16 days. As the World’s Most Luxurious River Cruise Line, our award-winning fleet introduces an unrivalled new standard of all-inclusive luxury exploring the grand rivers of Europe.”
What we think: We are total suckers for cruising through the heart of Europe, and it just doesn’t get any better in pure luxury terms than the opulent fleet that Crystal has created in just a few years. With glorious all-suite, butler-serviced accommodations, this is the current gold standard for European river voyaging, with the new-this-year 106-passenger Crystal Ravel leading the way. What will be even better next year is the range of cruises offered, with more short sailings to go with the two-week itineraries. It all adds up to the most tempting river-cruise programme we’ve seen to date.
A Disney Transatlantic
What they say: “Kick off your grand adventure in Dover before exploring a bevvy of historical sites in Portland (for Stonehenge) and Cork. After traversing the Atlantic, stops in Sydney and Halifax, in the Canadian province of Nova Scotia, will provide sightseeing gems like maritime museums, public gardens and time-honoured monuments before heading on to The Big Apple.”
What we think: Transatlantic voyages have become relatively routine these days, so trust Disney Cruise Line to come up with a fresh take on this route, sailing a 10-day itinerary from Dover to New York on September 15, 2019. Not only does it take in the rarely-visited harbour of Portland in Dorset – where passengers will get the chance for an excursion to the ancient site of Stonehenge – it also takes in those classic transatlantic ports of Nova Scotia, where the old liners of yesteryear would visit en route to New York. And, with five full sea days to enjoy all the adults-only features of the Disney Magic – including the delightful Cove Café, Keys nightclub and Palo restaurant, this could just be the recipe for some serious grown-up chill-out time.
Spirit of Discovery
What they say: “The long-awaited new-build from Saga Cruises will retain the small-ship experience the line is known for, with just 540 cabins and capacity for 999 passengers, but add single-sitting dining throughout a range of restaurants as well as a variety of bars, speciality restaurants and al fresco dining options. There will also be a well-stocked library, outdoor and indoor swimming pools, a spa, saunas, treatment rooms and beauty salon.”
What we think: For those who might still be thinking of Saga in staid, traditional terms, this could well be the ship to turn some heads. The new vessel makes her maiden voyage next July from Dover and will sail a series of British Isles itineraries to add extra lustre to her debut. We love the idea of a new mid-size ship (at 55,000 tons) specific to the UK market, and Saga has already proved they can run a slick sea-going operation. Adding all-new tonnage but with their own gracious, traditional style promises to be a marriage made in maritime heaven and we believe all her voyages next year will be a distinct highlight.
So, what cruise do YOU have your eyes on for next year? Give us your thoughts in the Comments section below.