New ships, fresh itineraries and exciting experiences – 2020 is set to be big for cruise. Anthony Pearce shares the unmissable sailings
It’s set to be another bumper year for the cruise industry. Aside from all the new ships launching, there are plenty of new itineraries worth getting excited about. Here, we take a look at new routes, emerging (and returning) destinations and themed cruises that have caught our eye.
Return to the Nile
In 2010, 58,000 people took an Egypt river cruise, but that was down to 3,600 by 2016, a 95 per cent fall. However, it rose to 4,700 people in 2017 and 5,700 in 2018, according to Clia. Although we’re still far from pre-revolution levels, numbers do look set to grow again. Avalon Waterways has become the latest cruise line to return to Egypt, joining the likes of Scenic and Viking. The line has not operated in Egypt since 2016 but has scheduled an initial 15 departures between September and December. Its new Taste of Egypt itinerary will be on board luxury ship MS Farah. The ten-day cruise will explore the Pyramids and Sphinx in Giza and visit the Ramesses II and Alabaster Sphinx in Memphis, as well as Cairo’s oldest church – the Hanging Church – and Tutankhamun’s Tomb in the Egyptian Museum before a Nile cruise. From £2,732pp (cruise only).
Crystal Esprit, Crystal Cruises’ ultra-luxury yacht, will o er new historically significant itineraries exploring the Rose City of Petra, Egypt and the Holy Land on a nine- or 11-day journey; Cyprus and the Greek Isles of Mykonos, Delos, Paphos, Santorini and maiden call Naxos on a nine-day voyage; and the United Arab Emirates of Dubai and Abu Dhabi, Sir Bani Yas Island, Manama in Bahrain and Doha, Qatar on an eight-day journey.
Total solar eclipse in Argentina
On December 14, 2020, a total solar eclipse will be visible over Chile and Argentina. Guests can experience this spectacle of totality – where the moon passes between Earth and the Sun, obscuring the sun – with Holland America Line on board Westerdam. The 22-night voyage features the highlights of South America, four days in Antarctica and the opportunity to experience the eclipse in Argentina. From £3,469pp (cruise only).
Party through Norway’s fjords
Not just a cruise, but a festival. Onboard P&O Cruises’ Iona guests can take in a seven-night fjords cruise with a difference. Ionafest will mark the naming of the new ship, the line’s largest to date. More names are due to be added to the bill, but so far CleanBandit, Trevor Nelson, Jo Whiley, Sara Cox and Blur’s Alex James have been announced. Strictly Come Dancing 2019 contestant Chris Ramsey, along with professional dancers from the show Amy Dowden and Ben Jones, and judge Motsi Mabuse, will also be on board. The sailing departs from Southampton and takes in Olden, Innvikfjorden, Nordfjord, Hellesylt, Geiranger, Sunnylvsfjorden, Storfjorden andBergen. It departs on July 4, 2020 after the christening ceremony. From £1,299pp.
New European dockings
Carnival Cruise Line returns to Europe this year with a host of new sailings. There’s a 16-day Northern trans-Atlantic crossing from New York to Dover on June 3, featuring calls at Qaqortoq, Reykjavik, Lerwick, Belfast and Cork; and a nine-day Norwegian fjords cruise round-trip from Dover on June 19 visiting Bergen, Olden, Molde, Trondheim, Alesund and Stavanger. There’s also a nine-day Western Europe from Dover to Barcelona trip on June 28, visiting Le Havre, La Coruña, Leixoes, Lisbon, Gibraltar and Malaga, plus nine- to 12-day Mediterranean cruises between Venice and Barcelona calling at the likes of Marseilles, Livorno, Rome, Naples, Kotor, Corfu, Valletta, Dubrovnik and Rijeka.
Reach remote Australia
Australia’s pioneer of expedition cruising, Coral Expeditions, has launched a completely reimagined programme of Great Barrier Reef expeditions from June 2021. The new seven-night Outerknown Adventures on the Great Barrier Reef will focus on the lesser-seen outer reefs and islands of the northern region and will o er guests an authentic and immersive experience like no other available on the reef. New destinations include Hope Island, Escape Reef and remote Osprey Reef, described by Sir David Attenborough as “an oasis for living creatures of all kind”. Osprey Reef lies beyond the continental shelf and is an isolated seamount rising 2,000m above the seabed within the outer limits of the Coral Sea Marine Park.
New private islands
Private islands are becoming de rigueur for cruise lines, with Royal Caribbean’s Perfect Day at CocoCay having taken the experience to a new level. Virgin Voyages, which debuts this year as a new cruise line, will have its own beach club on Bimini, while Ocean Cay MSC Marine Reserve will be MSC Cruises’ offering. Found in the Bahamian tropics, it opened in December 2019 and is focused on “restoring the existing natural beauty into a flourishing marine reserve”, according to the line. The private island will o er visitors the chance to learn about the local ecosystem, the protection of the oceans and the importance of preserving coral reefs. A series of “edutainment” programmes will also be available for all ages, alongside snorkel safaris, kayak tours and paddle-boarding classes that will be held in the island’s surrounding 64 square miles of protected waters.
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In this issue, we look ahead to the next 12 months, bringing you expert opinion from travel industry leaders as we ask them, where next for cruise? Andy Harmer of Clia, Ben Bouldin of Royal Caribbean International, Lynn Narraway of Seabourn, Craig Upshall of Aurora Expeditions and Neil Barclay of Viking Cruises all share their views, in this special section of the magazine. Click here to read the magazine in full.[/su_box]