No matter where your travels take you, it’s hard to beat a hassle-free cruising holiday where you will visit multiple destinations and only unpack once.
“While the Mediterranean holds the title as the most ‘cruised’ international region by the South African market, local
“This year local cruisers can set sail along the Mekong, get their cocktail every hour on the hour in Belize or head off the grid on an Arctic expedition. Cruising can take you just about anywhere these days, thanks to the growing fleets of mega-ships with top-notch facilities and smaller vessels adapted to river and expedition cruising,” he says.
For those who are ready to join the growing global cruise community, Viljoen offers Cruiseabout’s top selection of cruise destinations to explore in 2019:
1. Norway and the Baltics
Our go-to cruise line: Hurtigruten
For those who have sailed the Caribbean or explored the Mediterranean, try something that’s out of the ordinary and cruise up north. Following early explorers, Hurtigruten operates expedition cruises through the Baltic Sea, up to Norway’s northern reaches.
Soak up the dramatic views of glaciers and fjords. Winter is the best time to see the iconic Aurora Borealis (Northern Lights).
Cruising highlight: Explore the Scandinavian coastlands with Hurtigruten’s onboard expedition team, including the world-famous Geirangerfjord.
2. Western Caribbean
Our go-to cruise line: Norwegian
While the onboard activities of a Norwegian Cruise Line (NCL) vessel are a significant draw-card, a wide range of staterooms, including the ultra-luxurious and private The Haven and beach-based activities in the Western Caribbean promise to be the most memorable experiences for all types of cruisers.
Explore the Mayan ruins in Cozumel and Costa Maya, swim with dolphins and snorkel along the Belize Barrier Reef. There is an activity for everyone.
Cruising highlight: For a little more adventure, NCL offers a range of activities from their PADI learn-to-dive open water programmes for beginners.
3. The Mediterranean (East and West)
Our go-to cruise line: MSC
Cruisers who have already experienced a local MSC trip to Pomene or Portuguese Island can also tick off the Med with this well-loved cruise line. Get a closer look at the historic ports of Italy, from Bari to Venice, and Genoa to Naples.
Appreciate the picturesque and refined French towns of Cannes and Villefranche-sur-Mer, and immerse yourself into Spanish culture in Barcelona, Malaga, Valencia
Cruising highlight: Affordable for South Africans, cruises through the Mediterranean are port intensive, which means the full experience: cuisine, culture, shopping, history and, of course, plenty of breathtaking sunsets.
4. South East Asia
Our go-to cruise line: G Adventures
The G adventures experience in Asia is all about exploring remote and often hard-to-navigate rivers and coasts in luxury ships specially designed. Cruise along the Chindwin River in Burma, go for the Ganges in India or see Halong Bay and the Red River.
This is river cruise travel at its best for South Africans, with an atmosphere that’s informal and friendly and makes for a welcomed change from large-ship ocean adventures.
Cruising highlight: Cruise along the along the Mekong River from Siem Reap to Ho Chi Minh City, discovering the famous floating markets and exploring the stilt village of Chnok Tru along the way.
Our go-to cruise line: Holland America Line
For a cruise to something a little more unique than tropical beaches, Holland America Line operates wilderness expeditions through Alaska’s deepest fjords and breathtaking glaciers.
The cruise line’s mid-sized ships used on these icy routes offer an intimate cruising experience, without compromising on comfort, onboard activities, and entertainment.
Cruising highlight: One of many highlights is the infamous Davidson Glacier, discovered in 1867, in Skagway. Here, towers of crumbling ice fall into a crystal blue lake. Keep your eyes peeled for breaching whales!
“Cruising is one of the most exciting and hassle-free ways to see the world, and if you’re on a budget, cruise lines are always generous with their deals and promotions throughout the year,” says Viljoen.
He adds: “This year, there are more cruise ships on the waters than ever and this means a basket of new itineraries to choose from, so the best place to start is with a local specialist who offers a wide portfolio of options and can steer you to the right port.