What’s not to love about a holiday afloat? 1.9 million Brits went on an ocean cruise last year, an increase of more than 50% on the total a decade ago. Some 16 new ocean-going ships are being launched in 2018, and 20 more the year after. Cruising is definitely having a moment.
Think about a cruise as you might a stay in a hotel – do you want cool, laid-back and boutique? Hipster or traditional? Serene and grown-up, or a family resort, packed with activity? These best cruise holidays for 2018 have something to offer everyone…
Best wellness cruise holidays for 2018
Cruise lines are really embracing healthy living – if you have the self-discipline, that is. On swanky SeaDream I, a chic little 112-passenger motor yacht, I chose the wholesome raw food menu for a week and would have felt newly slim at the end but for the free-flowing cocktails.
I’m most excited, though, about the new Healthy Living tours offered by Oceania Cruises, among them a meditation session at an organic herb farm in Corfu and an aloe vera workshop in Lanzarote. This is complemented by a new vegan menu and green juice bars on board, while all classes in the gym are free. A week’s cruise from Barcelona to Monaco on the 1,250-passenger Riviera, departing 3 May 2018, costs from £2,589pp.
Best culture cruise holidays for 2018
Vibrant, exotic Cuba is flavour of the moment – but don’t settle for a cruise that only visits Havana, gorgeous though the city is; pick an itinerary that includes several ports, like Santiago de Cuba and Cienfuegos. Star Clippers offers more immersive Cuba cruises, as does Variety Cruises.
Iceland is hot, as it were, perhaps thanks to Game of Thrones fever; Princess Cruises has some exciting excursions to thermal springs, geysers and glaciers.
You don’t necessarily have to pay top dollar to eat well on a cruise. On Holland America Line‘s new ship, Koningsdam, you can eat your way round the world, in style, from posh Asian fusion to a smart New York-style grill, a French seafood bistro and the Grand Dutch Café, a popular spot for coffee and fresh apple pancakes. The ship has a high-tech cookery school, too, and a room where, guided by an expert, you can actually blend your own wine to take home.
MSC’s new ship Meraviglia
I’ve recently sailed on a tiny ship in Greece with Variety Cruises, and the fresh salads, seafood and contemporary Greek dishes on board were outstanding.
P&O Cruises, meanwhile, prides itself on its association with celebrity chefs. Michelin-starred Atul Kochhar has a superb Indian restaurant, Sindhu, on P&O’s flagship, Britannia, where you can eat for just £20, while on a handful of cruises, Marco Pierre White gives masterclasses in the ship’s high-tech cookery school. A week in the Norwegian fjords, round-trip from Southampton, with Marco on board, departing June 17 2018, costs from £899.
Sue Bryant, cruise editor of The Sunday Times
Best multigenerational cruises for 2018
A cruise ticks all the boxes for a multigenerational family holiday. I took eight of us on a swashbuckling week around the Greek Islands on the tall ship Star Clipper, where, grandparents included, we scrambled up the rigging, paddled sea kayaks and got competitive in the music quiz.
On bigger ships, there’s enough happening so everyone can do their own thing during the day and meet for dinner in the evening. Norwegian Cruise Line‘s Haven Suites are great for families wanting a bit of peace amid the big-ship bustle; they even include butler service, and an exclusive pool.
On MSC Cruises, the posh Yacht Club section has its own restaurant, pool and deck, so adults can chill out in peace while teens roam free. A week on the brand new MSC Seaview, sailing from Genoa on July 22 2018, costs from £2,319pp, with teens travelling for just £729pp.
On a luxury cruise, you can expect all-inclusive drinks, with food and service to rival the finest hotels ashore. Lottery winners might enjoy Regent Seven Seas Explorer, on which the top suite costs a whopping £4,000pp per night, with a Steinway in the living room and two Picassos to gaze at.
Mere mortals can still experience this very grand ship for around £500 per night in a standard cabin.
Silversea’s Silver Muse
Also new is the beautiful Seabourn Encore, complete with a multi-Michelin-starred chef, Thomas Keller, and decor reminiscent of a swish private yacht; while Silversea’s sleek Silver Muse, launched in 2017, has eight restaurants, with a butler and private balcony for almost every cabin. A week round-trip from Fort Lauderdale to Central America on Silver Muse, departing 13 March, costs from £4,600pp, all-inclusive.