Nothing can match the feeling of unalloyed joy at being at sea, or the excitement as your cruise ship slowly eases away from the dock. Even after more than a decade of writing about cruises, I still get that same thrill and sense of anticipation as I linger on deck to relish the romance of sailaway.
I’ll never forget sailing out of New York on Cunard’s ocean liner Queen Mary 2 as the band struck up the Rod Stewart classic Sailing. Knowing we wouldn’t see land for another seven days lent an extra resonance to our departure on one of the world’s great crossings.
It’s these experiences that lure devoted cruisers like me back to the water time and time again. A fact that is being borne out by a rising tide of cruise bookings, which have gathered pace since the start of the year.
Many operators have reported heightened levels of interest, with people treating themselves to extravagant voyages.
James Cole, managing director of Panache Cruises, said: “The further ahead it is, the more people are booking longer trips to faraway places and spending more money as they make up for two years of not cruising.”
Here’s our pick of the best cruises that you should be booking right now.
1. Boldly British
Celebrate the Queen’s Platinum Jubilee with A Right Royal Cruise to all four home nations on a special circumnavigation of the UK’s waters. The sailing is a maiden season highlight of Ambassador Cruise Line, which emerged phoenix-like from the ashes of Cruise & Maritime Voyages – just one of many cruise casualties of the pandemic. Like CMV, Ambassador is based at Tilbury and Ambience, a 1,400-passenger ship, is aimed squarely at British cruisers.
How to do it: A Right Royal Cruise is a 12-night round-trip voyage departing Tilbury on May 26. From £1,139pp (0808 102 8159; ambassadorcruiseline.com).
2. Travel back in time
Nostalgic types will relish a special and historical Holland America Line sailing that turns the calendar back 150 years to the golden age of sea travel by recreating the maiden voyage of its first ship, Rotterdam I, in 1872. Departing from its namesake Dutch city, the company’s newest ship (also called Rotterdam), will spend a day at Le Havre, allowing for trips to Paris. It will then dock at Plymouth before the transatlantic crossing to New York.
How to do it: The 14-night 150th Anniversary Transatlantic voyage departs Oct 15 and costs from £1,949pp including drinks, WiFi and two shore excursions (0344 338 8605; hollandamerica.com).