As the industry returns to full steam, new priorities emerge.
Dive with Galápagos penguins. Explore Greenland by Zodiac and helicopter. Hop on the Caribbean island of Bequia. After navigating two years of choppy seas, cruising has returned with voyages that go farther, stay longer, and explore more deeply. Here, Virtuoso travel advisors preview what’s new in cruising.
Pole to pole, expedition cruises are booming. Small enough to access shallow-draft ports, expedition ships visit wilds otherwise difficult to explore by land. “Expedition cruises are the new river cruises,” says Virtuoso advisor Sue Bradley. “They’re poised to explode as people discover their unique focus on the destination.”
Two naturalists guide excursions via Zodiac from Aqua Expeditions’ 16-passenger yacht Aqua Mare, launching in the Galápagos in May. Guests can snorkel with hammerhead sharks, hike to the world’s largest colony of red-footed boobies, and swim with Galápagos penguins and sea lions. Eight-day sailings alternately ply the east and west areas of the national park.
Departures: Multiple dates, May 6 through 2022.
Hurtigruten Expeditions’ new nine-day Ecuador trip spends a week aboard the 90-passenger Santa Cruz II on a carbon-neutral Galápagos cruise. Guests visit the Charles Darwin Research Station – breeding center for baby tortoises and Darwin’s famous finches – and spy the undersea aquarium from a glass-bottomed boat. Departures:
Multiple dates, March 2 through December 21, 2022.
Quark Expeditions’ new 199-passenger Ultramarine will spend nine days exploring Greenland from 20 Zodiacs, by air – the ship carries two eight-seat helicopters for flightseeing – and by land, including during a series of pioneering off-ship adventures such as alpine kayaking and overnight camping.
Departures: July 16 and 23.
Ponant’s new 245-passenger hybrid-electric Commandant Charcot counts a voyage to the North Pole among its 11 Arctic cruises this season. Sixteen-day polar sailings leave Spitsbergen’s remote glaciers and mountains for ice floes and pack ice at the top of the world, with opportunities to spot polar bears, whales, and seals – and take a true polar plunge, with or without a dry suit. Departures:
Multiple dates, July 8 through August 22.
Longer itineraries are growing in popularity. In addition to making up for a year or two of abbreviated travel, cruisers can relax as cruise lines smooth the transition from country to country. “People want to get into different cultures, eat different food, and hear different languages, to open all the senses,” says advisor Jonathan Phillips, who recently booked a client on a 34-day Jeddah-to-Dublin Silversea sailing. Multi-month and multi-leg voyages are proving popular with cruisers who can’t commit to the world-cruise timeline.
Among new lengthy options, Regent Seven Seas’ 732-passenger Seven Seas Explorer traces the Spice Route from Istanbul to India on a 74-day odyssey that continues through Micronesia, then down Australia’s east coast to Auckland, New Zealand.
Departure: October 31.
Spend 24 days in the Mediterranean exploring antiquities in Ephesus and Rhodes, as well as Jerusalem and Nazareth, aboard Oceania Cruises’ 684-passenger Nautica. The seven-country trip includes overnights in Istanbul and Venice.
Departure: June 6.
Along with a 54-day northern Europe sailing and a 38-day Mediterranean odyssey, Silversea’s extended voyages include a new 32 day cruise from Colombo, Sri Lanka, to Darwin, Australia, that explores the Andaman Islands, Palau, Komodo Island, and Australia’s Kimberley region.
Departure: May 2.
Islands for All
We could use a bit of sun on our faces and windswept beachcombing right now – all the more reason to go island-hopping by ship, from the familiar to the far-flung. “You can’t beat unpacking once and getting to so many destinations,” Griscavage says. In the Caribbean, she recommends lines such as Royal Caribbean and Norwegian, which call on their respective private islands for a day of beach clubs, water parks, and other attractions.
Lindblad Expeditions returns to New Zealand on a 22-day sailing between Auckland and Dunedin that hits not just the highlights of the North and South Islands – including two days in Fiordland National Park – but also the country’s subantarctic islands. Cruisers on the 102-passenger National Geographic Orion explore Enderby Island and the Snares chain, as well as the UNESCO World Heritage site Macquarie Island, to spot sea lion colonies, prolific bird varieties, and millions of penguins.
Departures: December 27, 2022, and January 14, 2023.
Star Clippers sails the 166-passenger Star Clipper tall ship along Central America’s Pacific coast, with a call at Panama’s San José Island, one of the Pearl Islands, known for its beach idylls and sportfishing. The eight-day cruise from Balboa, Panama, to Puntarenas, Costa Rica, also anchors at Parida Island in Golfo de Chiriquí National Marine Park for snorkeling and sea kayaking.
Departure: December 3.
At various times ruled by Greece, Venice, and Russia, the Turkish island of Bozcaada is the overlooked gem on SeaDream Yacht Club’s ten-day cruise from Athens to Istanbul. Disembark the 112-passenger SeaDream II to wander cobblestoned streets that connect whitewashed houses, a fifteenth-century castle, and surrounding vineyards.
Departure: June 2.
“Seabourn has been crafting itineraries that take people to smaller, off-the-beaten-path places big ships don’t reach,” says Virtuoso advisor Samuel Spencer. Case in point: the line’s Windward Islands itineraries in the Caribbean. Sailing round-trip from Barbados, the 600-passenger Ovation hits rugged Dominica, chic Bequia, and diver favorite Bonaire, among others, on a 17-day island-hopping holiday.
Departure: December 10.
Azamara’s May launch, the 704-passenger Azamara Onward, will spend eight days in Turkey and Greece, visiting ancient Ephesus and pastoral Patmos. Three 10 p.m. departures – from Mykonos, Rhodes, and Santorini – allow for sampling ouzo after sundown. Five-night pre- or post-cruise land tours explore Athens, Olympia, and Delphi.
Departures: May 21 and 28 and June 4.
Boom Time in Alaska
After a curtailed 2021 season, “Alaska will have a huge comeback,” says advisor Jessica Griscavage. The state’s vast wilderness and open spaces are just what many travelers are craving. “Alaska fits the bill for so many people, whether you want to tour by train, hike a rain forest, take a fishing trip, or float feet from a whale.”
Venture into Glacier Bay fjords on an eight-day UnCruise Adventures sailing aboard the 86-passenger Wilderness Legacy, round-trip from Juneau. Prepare for days packed with kayaking, bushwhacking, and wildlife-spotting that wrap up with evening campfires. Departures: Multiple dates, May 7 through July 9.
A new seven-day sailing between Juneau and Vancouver aboard Windstar Cruises’ 312-passenger Star Breeze takes the scenic route through Canada’s Inside Passage, along the eastern side of Vancouver Island, which is marked by First Nations longhouses.
Departure: July 21.
Among five Norwegian Cruise Line ships in Alaska, the 4,004-passenger Norwegian Bliss will call at Icy Strait Point, where the line recently completed a new pier, during seven-day voyages round-trip from Seattle. Guests can transfer to town via gondola, connecting to another gondola to ascend Hoonah Mountain.
Departures: Multiple dates, May 7 through September 17.
Excursions to spot brown bears, Tlingit village visits, and cruising Alaska’s Misty Fjords (and BC’s less-visited Fiordland Conservancy) are just a few of the highlights of American Queen Voyages’ 12-day sailings between Vancouver and Sitka aboard the new 186-passenger Ocean Victory.
Departures: Multiple dates, May 6 through September 9.
New Zealand mountaineer Peter Hillary (yes, of that Hillary fame) joins the 2,081-passenger Queen Elizabeth to give presentations on mountaineering and his expeditions summiting the highest mountain on every continent, including Denali, during Cunard’s eleven-day sailings round-trip from Vancouver. Departures: June 4 and 14.
River-cruising itineraries are multiplying through longer sailings, less-traveled rivers, and new seasons. “Even experienced river guests have new options,” Samuel Spencer says. “New river combinations and longer itineraries allow for in-depth visits and more opportunities to explore ashore.”
Viking’s first American river ship, the 386-passenger Viking Mississippi, sails the Great River’s southern stretch from Memphis to New Orleans over eight days year-round to explore Cajun country, former cotton plantations, and Vicksburg’s Civil War battlefield. In summer, the ship plies the entire route north to the river’s origin near Saint Paul, Minnesota, on 15-day voyages that navigate the wild upper reaches, edged by towering palisades where bald eagles nest.
Departures: July 9 and 23 and August 6.
This year, Uniworld Boutique River Cruises expands its popular sail-and-rail journeys to Hungary, Italy, Switzerland, Turkey, and beyond. A 16-day Venice-to-Istanbul trip floats the Po River to Bologna aboard the 126-passenger La Venezia, then boards the Golden Eagle Danube Express train for nine days en route to Istanbul, stopping in Croatia, Serbia, and Bulgaria.
Departures: July 24 and August 6.
AmaWaterways dives into Egypt this year with the new 72-passenger AmaDahlia. Cruisers spend eight leisurely days on the Nile visiting the temples and sites between Luxor and Aswan – with special access to Queen Nefertari’s tomb – as part of a 12-day tour of the country.
Departures: Multiple dates, March 4 through December 30.
There’s more to Danube River cruises than castle visits and riesling tastings: Avalon Waterways has introduced two new itineraries with active and culturally immersive excursions, such as canoeing on the Moselle River, hiking along the Danube, and learning to make Chantilly cream.
Departures: Multiple dates, April 25 through August 29.
Ready to Explore the World?
We have partnered with SmartFlyer, a full-service travel agency catering to high-end customized itineraries for couples and families worldwide.
Elena Borrero, SmartFlyer Travel Consultant, is a lifelong globetrotter who has visited more than 40 countries. With an initial no fee consultation, Elena’s strengths lie in getting to know her clients and executing detail-oriented, completely customized itineraries for couples and families. She