We had quite enough of ups and downs from 2020. With the constantly fluctuating quarantine requirements and confusingly complex lockdown rules, it's like to go down as our least favourite year.
But all is not lost. 2021 is here, and with a host of tempting cruises leaving from Southampton, you can sail off to pastures new with ease and convenience. It’s time to get booking and start dreaming. Your next cruise is just around the corner.
The UK’s spring splendour
Blossom, breezes and balmy sunshine make spring the finest season to circumnavigate the British Isles, and you can do it in style on Seven Seas Splendor. It’s the first time the ship – with its $5 million art collection, 500 crystal chandeliers and acre of Italian marble – has come to the UK, and the off-ship experience is just as sophisticated. Excursions include a field-to-fork Scottish food experience, a private viewing of Glenarm Castle in Northern Ireland and an expert-led garden tour at Arley Hall stately home.
The 12-night Crests and Crowns cruise sails round trip from Southampton, departing May 20. A superior suite starts from £9,399 including free return flights and transfers; unlimited wifi, beverages, dining, and excursions and pre-paid gratuities. (rssc.com)
From Scotland to Scandinavia
Watch the landscape get progressively wilder as you journey north on this Norwegian Cruise Line itinerary – one of its new, port-rich 'Extraordinary Journey' type of cruise. Sailing on Norwegian Star, you’ll have the chance to compare the cliffs of Shetland with the Norwegian fjords and Iceland's volcanic drama. You’ll explore elegant Edinburgh and buzzing Bergen before disembarking in cute and colourful Reykjavik, Europe’s northernmost capital. The voyage comes with a Free at Sea upgrade, which entitles you to up to four extras including Wi-Fi, excursion credit, speciality dining and open bar.
The 10-night Iceland: Norway and Scotland cruise, departing Southampton on June 6, starts from £2,199 in a balcony cabin. (ncl.com)
Back to the Baltic
Small ship, big adventure. This 19-day cruise on Silver Spirit includes Scandinavia's highlights plus three full days in St Petersburg to get under the skin of Russia's most stylish city. Excursions here include a night at the ballet, an exclusive concert at the Hermitage, and caviar and vodka tastings. Elsewhere you can take a scenic rail journey among Norway’s fjords, learn to make Danish pastries in Copenhagen and go seal-spotting from Tallinn. On sea days, make the most of the pool deck, spa and eight restaurants.
The 19-day Southampton to Stockholm cruise, departing June 10, starts from £8,199, including butler service, dining, drinks, Wi-Fi, onboard gratuities, business class flight from Stockholm to UK and overseas transfers. (silversea.com)
Family fun under Mediterranean sun
No flights and no summer holiday fights will be necessary on MSC Cruises' first ever two-week Med cruise on Magnifica. Sailing round trip from Southampton, there are plenty of ports of call for off-ship adventures in Spain and Portugal, including a late night departure from Palma de Mallorca. On sea days, heaps of on-board activities will keep the kids busy, plus an all-inclusive promotion means a premium drinks package is included – good news for parents too.
The 14-night cruise, departing on August 7, starts from £4,296 for a family of four, including all food and service charges, plus a premium drinks package. (msccruises.co.uk)
Take control in the Canaries
Vote for your voyage on this fortnight-long Fred Olsen concept cruise to the Canary Islands. Every night you and your fellow passengers will have the choice of two ports of call for the next day. Depending on the ballot, you might go to volcanic Lanzarote or lush Madeira; to energetic Gran Canaria or laid-back El Hierro. Sailing to and from Southampton you’ll either tick off big-ticket cities La Coruna and Lisbon, or revel in the lesser-known charms of Ferrol and Vilagarcia de Arousa.
The 14-night cruise sailing round trip from Southampton departs September 16 and starts from £1,599, including all meals and entertainment. (fredolsencruises.com)
Spend the festive season in the Big Apple
Start Christmas 2021 with a bang and take a Cunard Transatlantic cruise in mid-December, making the crossing with the halls of the Queen Mary 2 suitably decked, and land in New York in time for shopping and ice-skating. Alongside all the usual on-board delights, from afternoon tea and planetarium showings to live music and a gala ball, there’s extra festive charm with a traditional turkey dinner, a towering tree in the lobby and a gingerbread village created by the chief patissier.
The seven-night Westbound Transatlantic Crossing, departing on December 15, starts from £1,039 in an inside cabin, including dining, entertainment and return flight. (cunard.com)