A survey of 5,000 people by Clia UK & Ireland last month found that three-quarters (75%) of those who had cruised said they would likely cruise again in the next few years. That’s only slightly down on the 79% recorded when the same survey was conducted in autumn last year. Of those who have never been on a ship, 66% said there were likely to cruise in future, again only marginally down from the 71% result six months ago. It’s positive news for cruise lines and agents, but not so surprising. Since lockdown started, most cruise lines have noted that a majority of clients booked to sail this year have postponed rather than cancelled their holidays. They also report good demand for 2021, and especially for cruises that avoid flying and stay close to home. That’s our cue to look at some of the no-fly and rail-sail ocean and river cruises available to British cruisers. Read part one of Jane’s How to Sell: After lockdown series.
No-fly cruises to the Baltic
A Baltic cruise is a spectacular journey around an inland sea that touches on 10 countries that between them curate everything from some of the world’s greatest capital cities and art collections to fascinating histories of tsardom, tyranny and treachery. Factor in the ability to sail there from the UK on ships big or small and it’s easy to see why the region is a firm favourite with British cruisers and sure to be in big demand once normality returns.
Who? Cruise and Maritime Voyages
Where? Baltic and St Petersburg
When? May 9 2021
How long? 14 nights
How much? From £1,184pp
Ex-UK cruises, regional sailings and keen prices have made CMV a favourite with traditional British cruisers. This cruise targets clients in both the North-east and Scotland with round-trip departures from either Newcastle (May 9) or Dundee (May 10). It’s on the 1,250-passenger Magellan and visits Denmark, Germany, Estonia, Finland, Sweden and Russia.
Who? MSC Cruises
When? May 31, 2021
How long? 12 nights
How much? From £1,119pp cruise-only
Viking history, cycling around Copenhagen and hiking in the great Finnish outdoors are among highlights on this Baltic cruise, which visits six countries including Russia, where there are two days in St Petersburg. The cruise, round-trip from Southampton, is on MSC Magnifica, a 2,518-passenger ship with a laid-back European feel. The price includes tips.
When? June 27, 2021
How long? 14 nights
How much? From £1,649pp
It’s all about history and heritage as Cunard sets a course for the Baltic next summer. On board, there’ll be up to six formal nights and set seating for most; ashore there are trips to cathedrals, castles and palaces on port days in Germany, Denmark, Russia, Finland and Sweden. The cruise is round-trip from Southampton on the 2,061-passenger Queen Victoria.
Rail-sail river cruises
Several river cruise lines offer rail-sail packages pairing Europe’s waterways with travel by Eurostar and national rail services from London to cater for clients nervous of flying or keen to avoid possible delays at airports. Itineraries on the Dutch and Belgian waterways, the Rhine in Germany, and the Seine and Rhone in France are ideal as gateway cities such as Paris, Amsterdam and Cologne are just a few hours travel time from London.
Who? Arena River Cruises
When? May 9, 2021
How long? Eight days
How much? From £1,289pp including return train travel
This cruise is on the 192-passenger river ship Arena, which has not only been newly chartered by Arena, but also given the line its new name (Arena was called The River Cruise Line until earlier this year). The voyage is on the Rhine, sailing from Rudesheim to Basel and back to Cologne. The price includes a full-day excursion from Basel to Lucerne and Wi-Fi.
Who? Great Rail Journeys
Where? Dutch and Belgian waterways
When? April 19, 2021
How long? Eight days
How much? From £1,695pp including return rail travel
World War One expert Colonel Piers Storie-Pugh and TV’s gardening guru Charlie Dimmock are special guests on this voyage around the Low Countries, which includes a trip to WW1 cemeteries and the tulip gardens at Keukenhof. The cruise is round-trip from Amsterdam on a chartered Amadeus River Cruises’ vessel. The price includes excursions. drinks with dinner and Wi-Fi.
Where? Rhine, Main and Moselle
When? July 2, 2021
How long? 14 nights
How much? From £2,859pp including return rail travel
Fourteen ports and three rivers await on this cruise on Saga’s new river ship, Spirit of the Rhine. The voyage, from Arnhem to Amsterdam, is exclusively for the over-50s and offers city tours, wine-tasting and history, as well as talks by the BBC’s former political correspondent John Sergeant. The price includes drinks with lunch and dinner, five excursions, tips, Wi-Fi and UK transfers.
Cruise line bosses have always maintained that cruises around the UK are aimed at Americans and don’t appeal to the Brits. But that was then. In a post-Covid-19 world, they are perfect for clients keen to get back to sea but nervous about straying far from home, and an easy way to discover great towns, cities, landscapes and sights in their own country. With two islands to explore – the British Isles and the island of Ireland – we are spoiled for choice.
Who? Fred Olsen Cruise Lines
When? May 22, 2021
How long? Seven nights
How much? From £1,099pp
Mountains, beaches, the Giant’s Causeway and tales of the Titanic await as Fred Olsen takes its much-loved British ambiance closer to clients living in the North-west with this cruise around the island of Ireland round-trip from Liverpool. It’s on the 804-passenger Black Watch and includes calls into Dun Laoghaire, Cobh, Galway, Killybegs and Belfast.
Where? British Isles
When? September 3, 2021
How long? 12 days
How much? From £4,770pp
Clients can walk in the footsteps of Poldark in Falmouth and learn the origins of Guinness in Dublin on this four nations cruise ticking off England, Scotland, Ireland and Wales. The cruise, round-trip from Southampton, is on Silversea’s intimate 608-passenger Silver Spirit, which boasts all-suite accommodation and butlers for all. The price includes drinks, tips and Wi-Fi.
When? May 2, 2021
How long? 11 days
How much? From £2,384pp
Rather than circumnavigating the UK, this cruise seeks out seals, puffins, seabirds, whales and whisky on a no-fly voyage around the Scottish Hebrides. The cruise, round-trip from Greenock (Glasgow) on Hurtigruten’s 335-passenger Spitsbergen, visits the islands of Arran, Islay, Mull, St Kilda and more. The price include drinks with lunch and dinner, selected excursions and wi-fi.