Next year is just around the corner so now’s the time to book your 2020 cruise. Whether you’re looking to swim in the aquamarine waters of the Caribbean or explore the historic cities of the Baltics, cruise lines are offering more great itineraries than ever before, so there’s sure to be something to suit.
From exploring Cuba and island-hopping in the Med to sailing down the soulful Mississippi and marvelling at the Baltics’ gold-tinged architecture, here’s our pick of the best 2020 cruises to book now.
While US cruise lines are staying clear of Cuba, the British are still coming, and these fascinating shores can be explored on Fred Olsen’s Caribbean and Cuba cruise. Escape the pre-Christmas madness by sailing from Bridgetown, Barbados, to Santo Domingo in the Dominican Republic. Along the way you’ll explore the powder-soft sands and vibrant culture of St Vincent the Grenadines, Aruba and Jamaica, but the real jewel of this cruise is the chance to stop overnight in Santiago de Cuba. The second-largest city on the island, Santiago is the cultural capital – frantic, passionate and filled with stunning buildings (but don’t worry, you’ll be back in time for the 25th).
The colour-drenched streets of Havana are a sight to be seen
After landing in sizzling Miami you’ll be ready to set sail for white sands and turquoise Caribbean waters. Before the hectic Christmas season, relax and rejuvenate on the unspoiled sands of St Kitts Nevis, and gaze on the sugarloaf mountains of St Lucia before deep-sea fishing in Barbados. Sun-kissed, jungle-fringed archipelago Guadeloupe is yet another highlight, along with super-chic St Barts, where a semi-submarine excursion allows you to explore the colourful marine park, packed with fish, turtles and rays.
When the crowds have gone home, the ports of France and Spain heave a sigh of relief, and so do discerning cruisers. Setting sail in October, Saga’s Spirit of Discovery takes you on an aptly named voyage around the Mediterranean beauty spots, with the added benefit of departing from Southampton. From your floating boutique hotel, glidedown the coast of Spain to Picasso’s Malaga before cruising to the Côte d’Azur’s blindingly bright shores. Thanks to the ship’s compact size, cruisers are able to dock in the billionaires’ playground of Saint Tropez, and enjoy some island-hopping in Menorca, Sardinia and Gibraltar, too.
16-night ‘The Mediterranean’s Beau Monde’ cruise aboard Spirit of Discovery, round trip from Southampton via Malaga, Palamos, St Tropez and Alghero, departing 15 October 2020, from £4,004, travel.saga.co.uk
Picasso loved Malaga – and you will too
Sail round the sun-bleached shores of France, Italy and Malta on PO’s intensive seven-day tour round some of the Med’s most beautiful ports. From Malta’s cream-coloured capital, Valletta, you’ll sail on to Rome, where ancient sites jostle with cosy local trattorias. Then you’ll head on to Livorno, gateway to the Renaissance wonders of Florence. After a stop-off at Monte Carlo to lust over gleaming yachts and channel your inner 007 at the Grand Casino, a visit to laid-back Corsica, with its olde world streets and imposing clifftop citadel, will be warmly welcomed. Unlike many Mediterranean cruises, there’s even a sea day thrown in, so travellers will have ample time to enjoy Oceana’s fabulous facilities including a spa, a theatre and a casino.
Marella ‘Best of the Baltics’
Steeped in history and culture, the Baltics have an air of mystery and a level of cool that most European destinations can only dream of. Marella ticks off all the must-see
cities, from hip Gothenburg to UNESCO-listed Tallinn. Cruisers will also travel to the Swedish capital, Stockholm, scattered across its chain of pretty islands, as well as cycling through crisp Copenhagen and experiencing an overnight stay in St Petersburg, Russia’s imperial city and home to the truly amazing Hermitage museum.
14-night ‘Best of the Baltics’ cruise aboard Marella Explorer 2, round trip from Southampton via Gothenburg, Tallinn, Stockholm, St Petersburg and Copenhagen, departing 8 September 2020, from £1,858, tui.co.uk
Oceania ‘Baltic Legacies’
Travellers from around the world flock to the Baltics to see the midnight sun. Cruisers will get to experience this phenomenon on this Oceania cruise, with the added benefit of an overnight stay in St Petersburg during the famous ‘White Nights’, when the sun never sets (and the already vibrant nightlife ramps up a notch or two). Then, as well as the great Baltic cities of Stockholm, Helsinki and Riga, this cruise also sails to Lithuania’s Klaipeda and Poland’s pastel-hued Gdansk, where the first shots of WWII were fired. There’s even the option to disembark and journey inland to Berlin, while the voyage culminates in Scandi-cool Copenhagen, where you can spend the day exploring chic boutiques and hygge cafes.
Entering New Orleans’ enchanting French Quarter is like stepping back in time, with a maze of cast-iron balconies, dimly lit bars, street-corner jazz bands and voodoo museums spilling on to the banks of the Mississippi river. This Cosmos tour not only includes visits to Memphis – home of Elvis Presley’s Graceland – and New Orleans, the birthplace of jazz, but also sails to the laid-back shores of Central America. Cruisers can enjoy snorkelling in Cozumel, diving around the pristine Honduras reef in Roatan and exploring the coastal paradise of Costa Maya, with its palm-fringed beaches and crumbling ancient Mayan pyramids.
13-night ‘Memphis, New Orleans Western Caribbean’ cruise aboard Norwegian Breakaway, from Memphis to New Orleans via Cozumel, Roatan and Harvest Caye, departing 7 December 2020, from £1,318, cosmos.co.uk
North America’s West Coast conjures up images of beach babes, surf dudes and gleaming tech cities. The rugged Pacific coastline is a gold-rush of treasures, and sailing on ship-of-the-moment Scenic Eclipse you’ll see it all, from snowy Canada down to the sandy shores of California. Starting in Vancouver – regularly voted among the world’s most beautiful cities – guests will journey along wildlife-packed sea channels to hip Seattle and historic Victoria, British Columbia. Then this headline-making new ‘discovery yacht’ will visit Astoria, Oregon, with its Victorian homes and local craft breweries, before heading down to San Francisco, Monterey and Santa Barbara. The cruise finishes in sunny San Diego, California’s coolest beach city.
Until 31 October, Avalon Waterways is offering savings of up to £2,000 per couple on 2020 cruises. Save now on a ‘Romantic Rhine’ cruise, ‘Tulips of Northern Holland’ voyage or 15-day ‘Magnificent Europe’ river trip.
• Celebrity Cruises is offering customers who book 2020 cruises before 18 November 2019 a ‘Dream, Discover and Explore’ package. Two guests get a free classic drinks package each, plus $300 onboard spend, while additional guests can save 50 per cent on the cruise fare, with a free non-alcoholic drinks package thrown in. Free flights are also available for European sailings on some ships.
• On selected 2020 Seabourn sailings, you can receive a veranda suite upgrade, up to $500 onboard credit, an internet package and up to $1,000 airfare credit per person when booking before 20 November 2019.
• Book a 2020 Princess cruise before 31 October to qualify for free onboard gratuities, free stateroom location upgrades and onboard credit of up to $800 per stateroom.
• Make up for the weakened pound by getting a card from an online bank such as Monzo, Starling or Revolut. You’ll be able to use it just like your debit card at home, and you won’t be charged transaction fees.
Isabella is World of Cruising’s staff writer, and has a penchant for travel, food and drink (in particular, wine). She’s began her career as a drinks writer before moving on to lifestyle and travel, and is now full steam ahead with cruising. Growing up in Cape Town the South African city will always be her favourite destination, but right now she’s besotted with Tel Aviv – the best city beaches around, fascinating history, incredible food and the friendliest people.