dealchecker’s Guide to Cruise Routes
One thing’s for sure – we’re seeing some unbelievable cruise prices and amazing offers at the moment, with extra stays in all manner of exotic locations around the world. But cruises can be so confusing – where to go, what to do when you climb ashore for the day, and which route to choose are all big factors in your holiday decisions.
We know that planning a holiday can make you need another holiday just to get over, so we’ve put together this ‘cheat sheet’ for the most popular cruise routes.
Harking back to the past when travelling by ship was the only way to reach America, these cruises generally have an old-school feel. Expect to spend at least five days at sea, very few of them have any stops along the way.
Highlights: Arriving in the USA by sea
Main ports of call: New York – the quintessential destination for this journey
Look out for: Plenty to do on board, and extra nights free in a hotel when you get there
Must-do: Have a whistlestop tour of the Big Apple. Ditch the Statue of Liberty as she’s closed for a revamp, go to the Observation Deck at the Rockefeller Centre instead
Often sailing from Southampton, this is a very popular route taking in the best that Western Europe has to offer. Some of these cruises head as far as the Canary Islands in the winter, but not as many during the summer when the sun beats down on these Mediterranean destinations.
Highlights: Super-chic destinations like Cannes and Barcelona, and waking up in a new destination nearly every morning.
Main ports of call: Civitavecchia – the port for Rome, Livorno – the port for Pisa and Florence, Barcelona and Tunis in Tunisia.
Look out for: Flights – we usually only feature deals where flights are included if your cruise doesn’t sail from the UK. There are also plenty of extra nights in one of these fantastic cities up for grabs.
Must-do: Take a stroll around Cannes with your sunglasses on, living the jet-setting lifestyle, and spending the day on the beach rather than making another city visit – you’ve got to rest too!
Normally a fly-cruise destination, you’ll be out of the airport and setting sail before you know it. There’s more scope for an unusual itinerary here, and if you want to visit some of the out-of-the-way Greek islands, look for one of the smaller ships as they can fit into the ports there.
Highlights: The stunning weather, the warm Mediterranean waters and exploring new places like Dubrovnik or Santorini
Main ports of call: Piraeus – the port for Athens, Venice and Dubrovnik
Look out for: Stops in unusual locations like Istanbul or Alexandria, as well as those all-important free nights at the start or end of your cruise
Must-do: Spend plenty of time soaking up the sun, explore the walled city in Dubrovnik, and make the trek from Piraeus to the Acropolis in Athens.
You won’t be guaranteed scorching sunshine here, but you will be sailing through the Norwegian Fjords, and seeing the breathtaking scenery along the way. Other days will be spent exploring quaint Norwegian ports, a totally different culture. Most fjords cruises are no-fly.
Highlights: the Fjords, and the beautiful port of Stavanger
Main ports of call: Stavanger, Bergen and Oslo
Look out for: Plenty of places onboard with great views, so you can watch the scenery go by in comfort. And free parking at the departure port.
Must-do: Take loads of pictures to make everyone jealous!
What’s not to love about the Caribbean? Crystal clear waters, pure white sandy beaches and beautiful sunshine. Most Caribbean cruises depart from the USA and come with flights included, but we do occasionally see departures from Southampton – expect to be at sea for 14 days with just one stop before you hit the shores of the Caribbean though!
Highlights: Getting to do island-hopping on a grand scale, and seeing more stunning beaches than you can shake a stick at.
Main ports of call: Barbados, Aruba, St Kitts and Antigua
Look out for: Extra nights in Miami and plenty of deck space so you can soak up all that lovely sun
Must-do: Get off at every stop so that you can swim or snorkel in the sea, eat some of the local food, and most importantly, take pictures of all that white sand!