Ready to chase that horizon? Then you're in the right place. We've partnered with the most influential voices in the cruise industry to collect fresh inspiration for your next adventure.
If you're new to cruising, get ready to cast aside all preconceptions. We'll walk you through the many different types of cruises, explain how cruising can offer better value for money than a regular holiday, and recommend some hassle-free itineraries that'll give you a good taste of life on the waves. If you're friends with any cruisers, you'll know how easy it is to get addicted—read on to find out why.
Seasoned cruise fans, we've also got you covered. Some places really shine when seen by ship, and we've dug deep to find new itineraries that'll surprise and inspire. Perhaps we can tempt you into your first river or expedition cruise. Even in 2024, you can be among the first generation of tourists in some of the world's most remote destinations.
Let's take to the waves
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Excursions are all included
You're free to wander at your own pace if you like, but most river cruise lines include excursions of some sort. Saga river cruises normally include a walking tour, meaning you can tick off the biggest attractions with friendly faces from the ship and have extra time to explore independently. There's normally a talk about the history and culture of each destination before you arrive in port, and the guides will give you insider advice on their favourite restaurants and hidden-gem attractions for you to explore in your free time.
Stretches of some itineraries feel like excursions in themselves. Whether you're sat out on the sundeck, relaxing in the lounge, or having a drink on a private French balcony, you'll enjoy panoramic views you'd never get on land. Picture the spires of a Medieval cathedral glittering in the water, a rural winery perfectly framed by rolling vineyards, and Gothic castles poking through dense forests.
Smaller, more intimate ships
Small ships are at the heart of the river cruising experience and make life on the waves so much easier. You navigate narrow waterways inaccessible to big ships and dock right in the heart of the city—so you can step off and start exploring in minutes. The most classic river itineraries include the Rhine and the Danube, calling at the iconic "music cities" of Vienna, Salzburg, and Budapest. Cruising through the Douro Valley top a lot of wishlists, too, with out-of-the-way villages and lush terraced vineyards around every twist and turn.
There are no marathon treks between facilities on a river, and it's much easier to mingle and make friends, with welcome drinks and evening get togethers to bond with your new cruise gang. The social hub of a ship—like Saga's Panorama Lounge and Bar—has wraparound windows framing the flicker of everyday life on the banks. The shore is close at all times, giving you a feeling of full immersion, with landscapes changing dramatically by the mile.
All in the heart of the action
Saga specialises in cruising for the over-50s. If you're used to ocean cruises, you might be surprised at the huge amount that's included in the cruise fare from the off—you'll even get chauffeur transfers from your home to your UK departure point (or free parking at the airport if you'd rather drive yourself). All itineraries are all-inclusive, covering your drinks, dining, gratuities, baggage porterage, travel insurance, and Wi-Fi. Food is a real highlight, and sometimes the smaller, more intimate speciality restaurants are included, too. Some shore excursions are included as well. All that's left for you to think about is budgeting a bit of cash for souvenirs.
Saga is so confident you'll love your first cruise that they'll give you your money back if for any reason you don't—that's their "love it first time guarantee".
© DZT / Dagmar Schwelle / Münster marketing: Münster port
© GNTB / www.bayern.by / Gert Krautbauer / Waldsassen: two people, nun, walking/ pilgrimage on the Jerusalem Way
© GNTB / Francesco Carovillano / Leipzig: Ricchard-Wagner Square near Brühl
@ Leipzig Tourismus und Marketing GmbH / Philipp Kirschner / Leipzig: Panorama with New City Hall and Federal Administrative Court
© GNTB / Phillipp Kirschner / Johannapark
in collaboration with:
Waldsassen: two people, nun, walking/ pilgrimage on the Jerusalem Way / Gert Krautbauer
A taste of ultra-luxury
Seabourn expeditions are all about learning and immersion. After a long day exploring some of the world's most extraordinary remaining wilderness areas, staff will welcome you back to a cosy, club-like atmosphere full of pampering and indulgence. Seabourn team members learn your name and drink order right away, and the staff-to-guest ratio is almost 1:1, guaranteeing impeccable service. Tipping isn't required or expected, and you can take your pick of the gourmet restaurants and comfortable bars throughout the ship. Relax with fine champagne every day, if you choose—it's pretty much a luxury country club at sea.
Expedition ships host an elite team of experts and a fleet of Zodiacs, and there are private verandas for every suite to ensure the best views. Signature events include Caviar on the Ice—deck parties in some of the world's harshest and most impressive landscapes—as well as optional polar plunges and submarine trips.
A land of fire and ice
Speaking generally, there are two types of expedition cruises: warm and cold. The brilliant-white landscapes of the North and South Poles often draw guests to Seabourn expeditions—you'd be hard-pressed to find another way to visit nature's extremes (unless you're heading to a scientific research base). You'll board smaller Zodiac boats to explore ice fields, glittering glaciers, and remote tundras on flexible itineraries dictated by Mother Nature. Seals and penguins have no fear of humans, so your guides can take you right up close for photos.
Warm-weather expeditions cover some of the world's wildest frontiers, including the Amazon, the South Pacific, and Australia's ancient Kimberley. Excursions are included daily, spanning meetings with indigenous peoples, cave art tours, hiking through pristine landscapes, and wildlife spotting with expert trackers.
A six-star service
On a 6-star cruise, you can expect intimate, stylish ships, top-tier service, and in-suite butlers to attend to your every whim. Silversea really delivers on that promise, and offers the definition of ultra all-inclusive luxury at sea. Staff learn your preferences on arrival and go out of their way to make every experience extraordinary: they'll anticipate things you didn't even know you wanted, like a spread of canapés and cocktails while you're hosting your friends in your suite, or cleaning your shoes and sunglasses after a long day exploring.
The fare includes most fine-dining restaurants on the ship, and the majority carry no extra charge, so you can enjoy whatever you want, whenever you want. Menus are so luxurious that you can enjoy lobster and steak every night if you choose, alongside 24/7 caviar and rare wine and spirits. Unique, destination-inspired menus offer changing dishes specific to the ports visited.
Off the beaten path
To create a relaxing and refined atmosphere, Silversea ships are much smaller than the mainstream. The largest vessel in the fleet carries around 600 passengers, and the smallest carries fewer than 300.
Smaller ships can sail to hard-to-reach destinations that larger ships can't access. Shore excursions are included in every single port, and new tours in 2025 focus on getting off the beaten path, connecting with local people, and spearheading sustainable tourism. You'll get a totally unique look at each destination: picture intimate family-owned wineries and remote mountain monasteries.
Imagine Cruising can immerse you even further by combining a Silversea cruise with experiences in remote and exotic locations. You could relax in the idyllic surroundings of a far-flung island like Tahiti, or travel deep into the wilderness with a luxury Rocky Mountaineer rail journey.
The Imagine Cruising difference
Imagine Cruising is an innovative tour operator working closely with Silversea to create top-tier cruise-and-stay packages like these. They can dial up the luxury even further by adding exclusive 5-star experiences (think top hotels, fully-escorted tours, and luxury train journeys). Sometimes an entire package can cost less than the price of booking the cruise alone elsewhere.
If you want to linger in the lap of luxury, you can add a post-cruise stay at a top 5-star hotel. While other passengers are heading to the airport, you could be checking into a paradise island in the Maldives or a sun-baked villa gently lapped by an Italian lake.
If you're still full of adrenaline, jump straight into even more unforgettable experiences across the globe, with a range of fully-escorted 5-star tours. Options include India's Golden Triangle, the ancient wonders of China, and the vibrant cities of South America.
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The Travelzoo guide to:
Once in a lifetime
If you've enjoyed a safari or an escorted tour, we're willing to bet that you'd love an expedition voyage. Forget simply getting off the beaten path—on a small ship, you can go to places that are almost impossible to visit by land, and you'll set foot in the world's most rarely visited destinations. Unlike on a land tour, you'll have full peace of mind that top-tier luxury accommodation is following you throughout the trip.
Seabourn won Best Luxury Cruise Line at this year's biggest industry event, the Wave Awards. Itineraries have you exploring icebergs the size of cathedrals in Antarctica, kayaking with pink dolphins in the tangled lagoons of the Amazon, trekking through the primeval landscapes of Australia's Kimberley region, and discovering some of the world's most remote islands in French Polynesia. You can even explore the culture, scenery, and bird life of our own British Isles.
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Chef-led foodie experiences
Culinary Discovery Tours offer a unique opportunity to get to know destinations through the lens of local cuisine. Small, luxurious ships can call at lesser-known destinations, and curated foodie experiences are offered in over 40 ports, from Helsinki to Hobart. Whether you're gathering ingredients in cool Scandi food halls, cozying up in the country kitchen of an Irish chef, or helping prepare a family meal in the far corners of the South Pacific, you're bound to get a taste of something you'd never encounter at home.
On selected ships, there's an onboard Culinary Center where highly-trained chefs provide hands-on instructions so guests can learn to make regional dishes inspired by the itinerary. You could learn to cook in a tagine or make nut milk in the Ancient Cuisines class, or explore Chinese and Thai cookery, including knife skills, high-heat cooking, and working with rice paper and noodles.
What's actually included?
Oceania knows the way to a cruiser's heart is through their stomach. All the onboard restaurants are included in their
simply MORE package, from the main Grand Dining Room to gourmet specialties. Longtime favourites include the pan-Asian restaurant, Red Ginger, and the authentic Italian, Toscana.
Under the direction of Master Chef Jacques Pépin, a team of talented chefs from around the world create authentic dishes à la minute, using only the freshest ingredients, from Castilla-La Mancha saffron to custom-milled French flour. Budding sommeliers will be glad to hear the drinks menu is equally impressive—think premium wine and vintage Champagne—and you can also book fine-dining pairing menus on some ships, including The Moët & Chandon Champagne Experience.
Channel your inner epicure
You'll never feel more thankful for an elasticated waistband than when you're at sea. Dining is always one of the best bits of cruising, and there's no better way to discover a new port than through its food.
Speaking generally, all cruises include meals in the formal sit-down main dining room, plus a more casual buffet, and often room service, too. But the more luxurious cruise lines really take it to another level, with speciality restaurants, cellars full of vintage wines and rare spirits, and menus designed by Michelin-starred chefs—all for no extra fee.
Oceania Cruises is the luxury line most focused on gourmet dining. They've trademarked their meals as The Finest Cuisine at Sea, and though it's a bold claim, it's backed up with impressive credos. Half the onboard crew is dedicated to the preparation and serving of food—somewhat incredibly, there's one chef to every 10 guests.
Hays Travel is the UK's largest independent travel agent, meaning their agents are positioned to give impartial and objective advice. They sell a huge variety of no-fly voyages from all major cruise lines, and they're all genuine cruise lovers, so they want to make sure you come home converted. Their agents have been aboard many ships, so they can give you a really clear picture of how life onboard can vary. Will there be loads of kids, or is it a quieter, adult-only atmosphere? Should you dress up fancy in the evenings, or can you rock up to dinner in shorts and a t-shirt? No stone remains unturned.
They'll also make sure you save money where you can. For example, if you're only having a glass of wine or two with dinner, is it worth your while to pay extra for a drinks package? Or, if you're driving to the cruise port, where's the best place to park? Even better, they can negotiate secret sale prices you can't find elsewhere.
Hays Travel cruise experts
The answer is a resounding yes! Though shorter cruises are limited to Northern Europe and the Mediterranean, you can also cruise to more far-flung destinations like New York, Canada, or Greenland.
The most rewarding no-fly itineraries take you to destinations that are best seen from a cruise ship (at least, we think so). Norway is a great example. Instead of hiking up to a viewpoint, you'll cut right through the soaring cliffs and fjords, totally immersed in the breathtaking landscape (perhaps with a glass of wine in hand). Northern Lights cruises have the same benefits: you'll sail extremely far north to chase the Aurora Borealis, and since you're putting in far more miles than you would on land, you'll have a much better chance of seeing a spectacular display.
Can you reach many countries?
No-fly cruises offer a totally hassle-free holiday. You can drive to your closest regional port (whether that's Southampton, Belfast, Glasgow, Liverpool, or Newcastle) and get on the ship right away, meaning you can relax and enter holiday mode as soon as you step onboard. Even before you set sail, you can take advantage of facilities like the buffet, spa, and swimming pool.
For first-time cruisers, a no-fly mini-cruise offers a great taste of life at sea. Amsterdam, Bruges, and Hamburg can easily be squeezed into a weekend, and considering all your meals and entertainment are automatically included, cruising offers great value compared to a regular city break—with loads more time to relax.
Top choices for no-fly cruises include family-friendly sailings with P&O Cruises, luxurious voyages with Celebrity Cruises, and the excellent value-for-money itineraries offered by Ambassador (whose ships sail from a whopping eight ports across the UK).
Time to test the waters
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