The popularity of the ‘seacation’ has inspired cruise novices to venture beyond home shores. Here's what will be tempting them in 2022

Window to the world

What did the Knights of Rhodes ever do for Greece? It’s an easy answer, I realise, as I gaze around the splendid medieval old city of Rhodes.

A maze of narrow alleys here, the magnificent Street of the Knights there, the gothic Palace of the Grand Master, all enclosed in stout walls that still inspire the awe that must have greeted travellers in the 1300s. 

No wonder the Ottomans wanted the city. They took it in 1522, booting the knights out in a one-sided fight: 100,000 Turks versus 7,000 knights.

I’m discovering the Greek Isles with Azamara, on the line’s first sailing since Covid. Azamara reckons the destinations it goes to are at least as fabulous as its ships. I can’t argue. 

Every island we visit has a story to tell – the Minoans who vanished from Santorini; the mythical past of ancient Delos, a small isles off Mykonos; Ottomans again, this time laying siege to Heraklion. It took 21 years but they took it in the end.

Modern cruise ships are spectacular but, like so many others, I love cruising for the ease with which you get to visit lots of places on one holiday. All that history, culture and food in just seven nights! 

Clean and green

Feedback from cruise lines shows I’m not alone, with 2022 cruises reportedly being snapped up and months-long world cruises selling out in days. 

“It’s like a spring bouncing back,” says Eamonn Ferrin, Norwegian Cruise Line’s Vice-President International Business. 

The speed of the comeback is testimony to the way cruise lines worked as one to create robust health protocols – from mandating passengers and crew being fully vaccinated to enhanced cleaning and air filtration systems – that would ensure ships were safe and instil confidence in consumers. Cruise Lines International Association (CLIA) estimates some 5.5 million people cruised by the end of 2021, which says it all.

Many were first-timers, reassured by the safety protocols and attracted by fantastic deals. Free drinks, no single supplements and discounts were and are all in the mix. 

Royal Caribbean International launched its Wave campaign in November to ‘stimulate the market’. “[We are] reminding our guests that epic holidays await,” says Vice-president EMEA Ben Bouldin.

Companies continue to invest millions to find ways the industry can achieve a 2050 deadline of net carbon neutral cruising set by CLIA. 

Hurtigruten was ahead of the game by powering ships Roald Amundsen and Fridtjof Nansen by liquefied natural gas and batteries. Many of 2022’s almost 20 new ships will run on LNG. 

Silversea’s new Nova-class vessels will use LNG, fuell cells and batteries. “They support our mission to preserve the planet without compromising on comfort or luxury,” says Roberto Martinoli, Silversea President and CEO.

By the end of 2021, almost 250 cruise ships were back in service, offering holidays to suit all ages and preferences, whether that be for big or small vessels, luxury or casual. Celebrity Cruises Vice-president and Managing Director EMEA Jo Rzymowska says people are treating themselves after missing out for so long by booking top suites and ticking off bucket lists. Australia is selling well into 2023, she notes.

Princess Cruises’ 2023-2024 Australia and New Zealand programme features the longest-ever World Cruise, stopping in 43 countries across Australia, New Zealand, South Pacific, Southeast Asia, Europe and South America.

What's new

Product:There’s more on the all-inclusive front, with Windstar adding drinks, Wi-Fi and tips into its fares as standard. Seabourn, which anyway included drinks and tips, now includes unlimited free Wi-Fi for all. Holland America Line’s optional Have it all upgrade covers drinks, Wi-Fi, shore excursions and speciality dining.

A taste of the Caribbean awaits at P&O Cruises courtesy of Shivi Ramoutar, resident chef on ITV’s Martin & Roman’s Weekend Best. Her dishes will be served in Taste 360 and The Beach House on new ship Arvia launching December 2022.

Michelin-starred chef Daniel Boulud is opening his first restaurant at sea. Le Voyage will be on Celebrity Beyond, a new ship launching in April 2022, and will serve dishes infused with flavours inspired by Boulud’s travels.

It’s official! - Wellness can be enjoyable. Silver Dawn, a new Silversea ship, launches this spring featuring Otium, a wellness programme inspired by the Romans’ love of indulgence and pampering. 

A three-level go-kart track with a tunnel and a 10-storey plunge on a world-first freefall dry slide are among adrenalin hits on Norwegian Cruise Line’s Norwegian Prima. The ship makes its debut in Southampton in August 2022.

Virgin Voyages has increased agent commission from 16% to 22% until February 16 in a major Wave campaign to get consumers booking.

Excursions: A Beatles walking tour in Liverpool and outing to the Giant’s Causeway from Belfast have joined Cruising Excursions’ collection of UK cruise tours following the success of 2021’s summer seacation voyages around the British Isles. 

New in the Med this summer, Scenic Eclipse passengers can spy the wreck of Britannic, the Titanic’s sister ship, which sank off the coast of the Greek Island of Kea in 1916, on a dive in the ship’s submarine. It’s offered on the 10-day Iconic Treasures of Italy and Greece and Mediterranean Odyssey cruises.

Top sailings

Bucket list: Azamara’s five-month World Voyage in January 2024 will visit more than Seven Wonders of the World aboard Azamara Onward. Departing from Florida, the 155-night journey will reach over 40 countries. azamara.com

Croatian royalty: Sail from Split to Dubrovnik with APT on the 36-passenger Princess Eleganza. The eight-day journey visits Korcula, Hvar, Split, Brac and Vis, and stays in port each night. aptouring.co.uk

Skilled sailing: Fred. Olsen Cruise Lines is giving adventurers the chance to relive history in May 2023, by joining small ship Braemar for a repeat of its record-breaking transit of the Corinth Canal – just 24-metres wide at its narrowest point –in Greece. fredolsencruises.com

Animal action : Hurtigruten has added three new Galapagos itineraries available for 2023 and 2024. Clients can choose from four different small-ship expedition cruises, ranging from four to eight nights. hurtigruten.co.uk

Totally tropical: The Caribbean’s ABC Islands and the spice island of Grenada are among highlights on a series of new cruises round-trip from Bridgetown, Barbados, on Royal Caribbean’s Grandeur of the Seas. royalcaribbean.com

Canada bound: In 1713, Louis XIV staked his claim on a corner of Cape Breton Island in Nova Scotia. The resulting town, Louisburg, is among highlights on Fred Olsen Cruise Lines’ voyage to Canada round-trip from Liverpool. It’s on Borealis and departs August 9. fredolsencruises.com

Turning Japanese: Take tea in Shizuoka on this seven-day cruise round-trip from Tokyo on Princess Cruises’ Diamond Princess. Departure is October 4 2022 and there are maiden calls into Omaezaki in Japan and Jeju in South Korea. princess.com

Where to book it

Hurtigruten - 0203 603 7112

Hurtigruten’s Roald Amundsen is exploring Alaska in 2022 on a debut season of cruises. A 14-day Alaska and British Columbia cruise from Seward to Vancouver departing May 31 costs from £4,056pp. hurtigruten.co.uk