New Year’s resolutions to embark on a new diet or make use of that expensive gym subscription are so dull it’s little wonder they fall by the wayside within weeks. But a promise to do something really different when it comes to holidaying on the high seas? Now that is a resolution worth keeping. And with so much going on in the world of cruising, this is certainly the year to do it.
There are sparkling new ocean and river ships to discover, voyages for families, sybarites and wine lovers, and adventures to exotic lands where few have ever set foot. You can go diving with sharks, celebrate Thanksgiving in the home of jazz, learn about the night sky with astronomers, and practise yoga under the Adriatic sun – there’s something for every type of cruise fanatic. And if you’re yet to catch the bug? With so much to choose from, it’s only a matter of time.
Here are the best voyages on offer in 2024.
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Cruise the Kimberley
Good news for Seabourn fans who shiver at the thought of a cruise to the South Pole; its ultra-luxury expedition ship Pursuit is going in search of heat, saltwater crocodiles and ancient rock art on its debut in the Kimberley. The Waterfalls and Wandjinas adventure takes you through the remote region, which is more than three times the size of England but home to barely 40,000 people. Sailings between Broome and Darwin depart from June to August and promise to thrill with a visit to Horizontal Falls, taking in reefs that seem to rise from the ocean and optional helicopter rides over the rainforest.
Book it: Seabourn (0344 338 8615) offers the 10-night Waterfalls and Wandjinas adventure from £5,999pp.
Have a whale of a time
Small ship specialist Coral Expeditions has teamed up with the Australian Geographic Society for a Whales and Trails of Western Australia expedition, which pairs wineries, coastal walks, wildflowers and the white sands of Lucky Bay with (hopefully) sightings of migratory humpback, southern right and blue whales. Expect daily lectures on board and swim and snorkel stops in quiet bays. The cruise, from Fremantle to Esperance and back, sets sail aboard the 120-passenger Coral Adventurer.
Book it: Coral Expeditions (0061 7 4040 9999) offers the 10-night Whales and Trails of Western Australia expedition from £4,832pp; departs October 5.
Expedition to the South Pole
Adventurous souls can follow in the footsteps of Australian explorer and scientist Sir Douglas Mawson on an epic 25-day expedition Scenic voyage to the eastern side of Antarctica next winter. Travel in the lap of luxury aboard Scenic Eclipse – a discovery yacht – with no more than 200 other passengers. The cruise starts in Milford Sound, New Zealand, and ends in Hobart, Tasmania. Spend 10 days exploring the icy wastes of the White Continent that hundreds of thousands of penguins call home.
Book it: Scenic (0161 768 8129) offers the 25-day Mawson’s Antarctica: Along the East Coast from £23,700pp; departs December 15.
Cruising to Antarctica might be thrilling, but the price tag can be enough to give you the chills. Princess Cruises’ new 17-night voyages from Buenos Aires won’t break the bank but includes four days’ scenic cruising in the White Continent. True you can’t step ashore – that’s only allowed if ships have 500 passengers or less – but you’ll see loads of penguins and, with luck, whales. Once Antarctica is ticked off the list, Sapphire Princess heads to Stanley for a day in the Falkland Islands.
Book it: Princess Cruises (0344 338 8663) offers the 17-day Antarctica cruise from £1,999pp; departs December 1 and 18.
Africa and the Indian Ocean
Champagne living on tap
Zip-lining, diving with great whites and kayaking await aboard Silversea’s luxury expedition ship Silver Cloud, which explores the wild side of Southern Africa on a voyage starting in Walvis Bay, Namibia, and ending 12 days later in Port Elizabeth, South Africa. There’s all-suite living and champagne on tap, while tours bypass cityscapes, instead giving passengers an active and cultural fix with trips inside caves, vigorous hikes (including up Cape Town’s Table Mountain), a night under canvas and plenty of wildlife encounters.
Book it: Silversea (0844 251 0837) offers the 12-day Walvis Bay to Port Elizabeth cruise from £9,700pp including flights; departs March 23.
Sail the eclectic Indian Ocean
If Dubai’s city of superlatives doesn’t impress, giant tortoises in the Seychelles and flying from Mombasa to Amboseli National Park for a game drive surely will. Norwegian Cruise Line’s new 16-day voyage from Dubai to Port Louis, the capital of Mauritius, is a cornucopia of contrasts, pairing Middle Eastern culture in the United Arab Emirate of Fujairah and Muscat in Oman with white-sand beaches in Zanzibar, rainforest in Antsiranana, Madagascar, and high-energy rock shows on the 2,002-passenger Norwegian Sky.
Book it: Norwegian Cruise Line (0333 241 2319) offers the 16-day Africa: Seychelles, Kenya, Tanzania & Oman cruise from £3,699pp; departs ​December 4.
Expand your horizons
Proving education can be fun, SeaTrek Sailing Adventures has created two new family-friendly holidays that will have children, teens and parents spying dragons, swimming with whale sharks, and hunting bugs and butterflies as they sail around the islands along Indonesia’s Ring of Fire. Learn about wildlife and conservation with UK naturalists Ray and Angela Hale. The round-trip cruises from Komodo Island are aboard the Ombak Putih, a traditional Indonesian sailing ship that holds just 24 passengers.
Book it: Stubborn Mule Travel (01728 752751) offers SeaTrek’s nine-day Whale Sharks, Corals and Dragons adventure from £5,885pp including flights; departs July 30 & August 10.
Meander the Mekong
You can never have too much of a good thing. Which is why Emerald Cruises has added two days to its one-week voyages on the Mekong River in Cambodia and Vietnam this year, aboard Emerald Harmony, and renamed them Meandering Majestic Mekong. The extra time allows for new excursions that will see passengers visit incense factories, schools and temples, and ride in cyclos (think carts pulled by pedal bikes). Familiar favourites will also remain, such as sightseeing in Phnom Penh by tuk-tuk after dark, tours to the Khmer Rouge Killing Fields and explorations of local markets.
Book it: Emerald Cruises (0161 768 8154) offers the 10-day Meandering Majestic Mekong cruise from £3,045pp; departs August–October.
Expect the unexpected
French cruise line Ponant sets sail on a new voyage around Japan’s west coast this year. Photographer Sue Flood, one of the team behind the BBC’s Blue Planet series, is joining passengers aboard Le Jacques-Cartier, a small ship for just 184 passengers that was built for exploring. This one-off departure starts in Kagoshima and ends in Fukuoka after a week spent discovering Japanese islands that are home to ancient cedar forests, monumental cliffs, Christian churches and towering waterfalls. It also calls into South Korea’s volcanic Jeju island.
Book it: Ponant (0207 660 4089) offers the seven-night Kyushu’s secret islands and ancestral heritage from £4,960pp; departs April 20.
Disney has a new island
Be among the first to step ashore on Lookout Cay, a new private island Disney Cruise Line is opening in the Bahamas this summer. The island newbie has beaches, water slides and three bars exclusively for adults. Disney Fantasy’s 10-night Southern Caribbean voyage also visits Antigua, St Lucia, Dominica and the British Virgin Islands. And just when you think it can’t get better, there’s also a day of splash-tastic family fun at Castaway Cay, Disney’s current long-standing private island.
Book it: Disney Cruise Line (0800 171 2317) offers the 10-night Southern Caribbean voyage from £8,851 (for two adults and one child sharing an inside cabin); departs Port Canaveral July 25.
Down Mexico way
Ever wondered what Richard Burton, Elizabeth Taylor, the Sea of Cortez and cliff divers have in common? Carnival Cruise Line’s one-week Mexican Riviera voyages has the answer. The new Carnival Firenze launches in April under a Carnival Fun Italian Style moniker that pairs Carnival’s non-stop family entertainment, teppanyaki dining and adults-only retreat with decor that mimics Florence’s Piazza Duomo and bars serving Italian fine wines. The ship will visit Puerto Vallarta (where Burton and Taylor owned a house), Mazatlan and Cabo San Lucas this summer.
Book it: Carnival Cruise Line (0808 234 0680) offers the seven-day Mexican Riviera from £500pp; departs August–November.
Give thanks on the Mississippi
Elvis, the American Civil War and soul food are the ultimate combination on American Cruise Lines’ river boat American Symphony as it navigates the mighty Mississippi from New Orleans to Memphis this year. There are plenty of departures to choose from, but opt for the November 26 date through Fred Holidays and you’ll enjoy the first three nights in the Big Easy to coincide with the annual Thanksgiving Parade. This is when the French Quarter comes alive with colour, floats parade through the streets and the music of marching bands fills the air. A final night in Memphis also offers time to get down with the blues on Beale Street.
Book it: Fred Holidays (0800 021 3172) offers 11 nights departing from the UK on November 2626 from £6,595pp including flights and cruise.
Celebrate the best of British
The Queen Anne – Cunard’s first new cruise ship in 12 years – is set to launch this year. Join the circumnavigation of the UK in May and you’ll experience the vessel’s first-ever British Isles voyage. Celebrating the best of Britain and Ireland, there’ll be talks about the island’s history and heritage, celebration menus, British and Irish entertainment and a day in Liverpool – Cunard’s base until 1967 – along with other port favourites including Edinburgh, Kirkwall and Belfast.
Book it: Cunard’s (0344 338 8641) 14-night British Isles Festival Voyage costs from £1,559pp; departs Southampton May 24.
Still struggling to know your Big Dipper from your Boötes? You need Havila Voyages’ new 11-night astronomy-themed cruises along the Norwegian coast from Bergen to Kirkenes and back. The March 2 sailing will be joined by space scientist and former Royal Astronomical Society president John Zarnecki; the October 30 departure by Ian Ridpath, editor of the Oxford Dictionary of Astronomy. Between them they will be talking about spacecraft, cosmic creatures and the stars, and spending evenings on deck searching for the aurora borealis.
Book it: Havila Voyages (03455 280026) offers 11-night astronomy adventures from £1,308pp including access to the lectures; departures February, March & October.
A journey to remember
How better to mark the anniversary of the D-Day landings of June 6 2044 than on a cruise ship anchored off the Normandy beaches exactly 80 years after British, Canadian and American troops landed there to begin the long push to free Europe from Nazi occupation. Board Ambassador Cruise Line’s ship Ambition from Bristol and experience a remembrance service on board, as well as talks by former brigadier Philip Sanders. The itinerary also includes favourites such as Guernsey, Le Havre and the Isles of Scilly.
Book it: Ambassador Cruise Line (0808 102 0129) offers the six-night D-Day 80th Anniversary Voyage from £649pp.
Europe and the Mediterranean
A decadent debut
One year on from storming onto the cruise scene with luxury new ship Explora I, Explora Journeys is doing it again. Explora II makes its debut in August with the same leafy conservatory, art-deco look and restaurant, complete with rolling menus devised by some of the world’s most celebrated chefs. Bag the maiden cruise, from Barcelona to Civitavecchia (Rome), to visit the French and Italian Riviera favourites of Portofino and Monte Carlo. Round off a day of exploring the maze-like streets of Porto Santo Stefano, Italy, with a glass or two of chianti.
Book it: Explora Journeys (0800 031 8935) offers the eight-night Journey from Barcelona to Rome from £4,377pp; departs August 11.
Get in the Olympic spirit
Inspired by this summer’s Paris Olympics, CroisiEurope is offering four Greek cruises that visit Olympia, home of the ancient Olympic Games, where only men could compete and Greeks gathered for five days of competition and partying. Sailing from Piraeus on La Belle de l’Adriatique, a small ship for just 198 passengers, the cruises include a call into Igoumenitsa and an excursion to Meteora, where dozens of monasteries balance precipitously on rocky peaks. Round out a day in Athens with a Greek folklore evening.
Book it: CroisiEurope (01756 691269) offers the seven-night Tour of the Peloponnese and Meteora from £1,690pp; departs March 8, 15, 22 and 29.
Cycle the Saône
Who said that river cruising had to be slow-paced? Join AmaWaterways’ new seven-night Flavours of Burgundy cruise on the Saône between Dijon and Lyon and take advantage of the guided bike rides on offer – taking active sorts up to 30km along the river banks. If that sounds too much like hard work, there are also walking and wine-tasting tours, as well as Lyonnaise specialities to savour on a foodie excursion to famed Les Halles market in Lyon.
Book it: AmaWaterways (0800 520 2250; amawaterways.co.uk) offers the seven-night Flavours of Burgundy aboard the AmaCello from £3,551pp; 12 departures between May 2 and September 26.
Channel your inner warrior
Not content with its three new wine-themed cruises in 2024, Sail Croatia has added three sailings for those who fancy practising their warrior poses while taking in views of the Dalmatian Coast. Sailings are all from Split to Dubrovnik aboard the 38-passenger yacht cruiser Almissa. Activities include sunrise and sunset yoga sessions on the sundeck hosted by a certified instructor, as well as yoga in a vineyard in Hvar before a wine-tasting and traditional Croatian dinner.
Book it: Sail Croatia (020 4525 7534) offers its seven-night Yoga Cruise from £1,329pp; departs April 13, September 7 & October 5.
Launch into autumn
Castles, abbeys, cathedrals and vineyards are among the enticing sights on display as Viva Cruises’ new river ship Viva Enjoy sets sail on a 12-night maiden voyage from Frankfurt to Vienna this autumn. Sail over the Franconian Alps by way of 16 locks on the Main-Danube Canal, cruise the Main and Danube rivers, taste smoked beer in Bamberg and have a day in Nuremberg, where an excellent Documentation Centre charts the rise of Hitler and life under the Nazis.
Book it: Viva Cruises (0330 818 7271) offers the 12-night Maiden Voyage Viva Enjoy from £3,995pp; departs September 29.
*All cruise prices exclude flights unless otherwise stated.