Planning a European cruise? For a new perspective on the Old World, expand your horizons beyond the Mediterranean.

The Ageless Agean

Cruise line: Voyages to Antiquity

The ship: Aegean Odyssey

Vital stats: 386 passengers, 180 crew

The journey: Athens to Piraeus over 13 days (departs 22 April)

Ports of call: Delphi, Nauplia, Santorini, Heraklion, Agios Nikolaos, Karpathos, Rhodes, Nisyros, Delos and Mykonos Wining and dining Four bars, two restaurants, three lounges and an outdoor terrace

Wining and dining: Four bars, two restaurants, three lounges and an outdoor terrace

Wellness: Pool, spa and jacuzzi

The luxe factor ⭑⭑⭑⭑

agean view water through wall

Sail back to the ancient world with this epic Aegean journey. Your personal odyssey begins on the mainland with the Acropolis, Delphi on the slopes of Mount Parnassus (home to the oracle of Apollo) and the monastery of Hosios Loukas. During eight days on the water you’ll see the famous blue domes of whitewashed Santorini, the wild mountains and dramatic scenery in Karpathos and the volcanic isle of Nisyros. A cocktail at the Aegean Odyssey’s Lido Bar is the perfect place for watching this sun-soaked corner of the world drift by – and you’ll get to experience colourful Greek life by taking part in the Orthodox Easter celebrations in the Cretan capital, Heraklion.

Islands of Fire and Ice

Cruise line: APT

The ship: Hebridean Sky

Vital stats: 118 passengers, 70 crew

The journey: Reykjavik to Edinburgh over 13 days (departs 16 June)

Ports of call: Grundarfjörður, Vigur, Sigluförður, Akureyri, Námaskard, Goðafoss, Grimsey Island, Seyðisfjörður, Tórsharn, Vestmanna, Suduroy, Stornoway and Shiant islands, St Kilda, Oban

Wining and dining: Two restaurants and one bar

The luxe factor ⭑⭑⭑

reykjavik city mountain and harbour view

From the vibrant Icelandic capital, Reykjavik, to the stark beauty of isolated villages and towering cliffs on the Faroese island of Streymoy, the Hebridean Sky and its fleet of Zodiac inflatable boats will transport you on this northern Atlantic Ocean tour to places that defy the imagination. You’ll have opportunities to hike through untouched wilderness but there’ll be no roughing it on board. The boutique ship sets the dial to low-key: that means no organised entertainment or deck games but plenty of quiet enjoyment.

 

Blue Danube to Black Sea

Cruise line: Scenic

The ship: Scenic Crystal

Vital stats: 169 passengers, 51 crew

The journey: Budapest to Bucharest over nine days (departs April and May)

Ports of call: Kalocsa, Osijek, Belgrade, Iron Gates, Svishtov, Rousse, Silistra, Giurgiu

Wining and dining: Three restaurants and one bar

Wellness: Small fitness centre, rooftop walking track and spa

The luxe factor ⭑⭑⭑⭑

The Danube winds its way through the heart of Eastern Europe, where time stands still, along the spectacular Iron Gates – an ancient gorge carved by the river between the Carpathian and Balkan Mountains – and to the imposing Ottoman fortress
in Silistra. When you’re not exploring the onshore medieval strongholds and cobblestoned streets, there’s the comfort of your on-water accommodation; 80 per cent of cabins on Scenic Crystal have a private outdoor balcony that can be transformed into a cosy sunroom at the push of a button.

Rhine Reverie

Cruise line: Uniworld

The ship: Antoinette

Vital stats: 154 passengers, 57 crew

The journey: Basel to Amsterdam over eight days (departs March to October)

Ports of call: Breisach, Strasbourg, Speyer, Rüdesheim, Boppard, Koblenz, Cologne

Wining and dining: Two restaurants and two bars

Wellness: Pool, spa and fitness centre

The luxe factor ⭑⭑⭑⭑

ss antoinette exterior ship

Celebrated by aesthetes from Byron to Beethoven, the Rhine threads past rich cultural hubs, charming towns, beautiful wine villages and fairytale hilltop castles. You’ll be treated like royalty aboard the Antoinette, a grand river ship emulating Marie Antoinette’s France. A magnificent crystal chandelier crowns the ornate lobby, while suites feature marble bathrooms and luxury linen. The 20-seat Le Cinema Pigalle is the place to eat cake – or popcorn.

Scottish Lochs in Luxury

Cruise line: Abercrombie & Kent

The ship: Spirit of Scotland

Vital stats: 12 passengers, six crew

The journey: Caledonian Canal and lochs of the Great Glen over seven days (departs April to October)

Ports of call: Banavie, Laggan, Cullochy, Fort Augustus, Dochgarroch, Muirtown

Wining and dining: One restaurant and one bar

Wellness: Spa pool 

The luxe factor ⭑⭑⭑⭑⭑

the spirit of scotland ship on a river

Experience the captivating history and remote beauty of the Scottish Highlands in ultra-boutique style aboard this luxury barge complete with an elegant dining room and rooftop spa pool. Catering to just 12 passengers, the Spirit of Scotland spends seven days cruising the waters of Scotland’s famous lakes (including Loch Ness) while also offering plenty of opportunities for adventure on land. Follow walking trails through green hills and explore storybook castles and historic sites, such as the moor where the Battle of Culloden was fought in 1746, as you journey back in time, steeped in modern luxury.

The best of the British Isles

Cruise line: Disney

The ship: Disney Magic

Vital stats: 2713 passengers, 950 crew

The journey: British Isles cruise, round trip from Dover over seven nights (departs 8 September)

Ports of call: Dublin, Belfast, Greenock, Liverpool

Wining and dining: Six restaurants and six bars

Wellness: Three pools, fitness centre, running track, sports deck and two spas

The luxe factor ⭑⭑⭑

History and activities combine on this seven-night voyage from Dover to the Irish Sea. Expect to see sights such as the incredible basalt formations of the Giant’s Causeway and the Scottish harbour town of Greenock and experience firsthand the inimitable craic of Belfast and the drinkable history of Dublin’s Guinness Storehouse. Between ports, enjoy the signature family-oriented fun of the grand Disney Magic, a floating wonderland on which themed restaurants, a three-storey waterslide and sumptuous spas rival the on-shore attractions.

jet stream boat water

Ready to set sail?

Wine and Waves

Cruise line: Ponant

The ship: L’Austral

Vital stats: 264 passengers, 140 crew

The journey: Lisbon to Portsmouth over 10 days (departs 13 April)

Ports of call: Leixões, Porto, Saint-Jean-de-Luz, Bordeaux, Pauillac, Belle-Île-en-Mer, Guernsey, Honfleur

Wining and dining: Two restaurants and two bars

Wellness: Pool, spa and gym

The luxe factor ⭑⭑⭑⭑⭑

bordeaux vineyard

Synonymous with the world’s most revered vineyards and a thriving gastronomic scene, Bordeaux is a must for anyone attracted to the finer things in life. You could say the same for the stylish superyacht L’Austral, which subtly blends indulgence and intimacy, from prestige suites with 24-hour room service to a spa equipped with a Turkish hammam. Skirting the Atlantic coastline, you’ll stop at the World Heritage-listed Portuguese town of Porto (famous for its fortified wine) and discover the rich oenological traditions of Bordeaux. Complete with an onboard sommelier, tastings of grands crus and wine lectures, this is distilled liquid luxury.

The Seductive Seine

Cruise line: Tauck

The ship: Sapphire

Vital stats: 98 passengers, 36 crew

The journey: London, Paris and Normandy over 12 days (departs April to October)

Ports of call: Conflans-Sainte-Honorine, Vernon, Rouen, Le Havre, Les Andelys

Wining and dining: Two restaurants and one bar

Wellness: Decktop jacuzzi, putting green, fitness centre, spa and bicycles

The luxe factor ⭑⭑⭑⭑⭑

It’s the country of calvados and camembert, the D-Day beaches and Claude Monet’s Giverny. Cruising along the Seine from Paris to Normandy is a trip through France’s cultural and historical soul. Activities include a reception and dinner at Château de Bizy, “the Versailles of Normandy” that was once home to Louis XV. You’ll start the trip with two nights in London at the five-star Savoy hotel before taking the Channel Tunnel train to Paris to meet the Sapphire, which was refurbished last year with generous-sized suites, brocade upholstery and floor-to-ceiling windows that look over the idyllic riverscapes.

Imperial Waterways

Cruise line: Viking River Cruises

The ship: Viking Helgi

Vital stats: 210 passengers, 115 crew

The journey: Moscow to St Petersburg over 13 days (departs May to October)

Ports of call: Uglich, Yaroslavl, Kuzino, Kizhi, Mandrogy

Wining and dining: One restaurant and two bars

Wellness: Decktop walking track

The luxe factor ⭑⭑⭑⭑

the viking heigl explorer ship

From the brightly coloured domes of Moscow’s St Basil’s Cathedral to the imperial palaces of St Petersburg, the Viking Helgi connects Russia’s two greatest metropolises. Four days in each city provides ample time to enjoy the grandeur but in between there are lesser-known gems on the Volga river, including the ancient market town of Yaroslavl and the island village of Kizhi with its other-worldly architecture. You’ll finish your journey in St Petersburg, where you can visit the Hermitage Museum with an optional behind-the-scenes tour fit for a tsar.

Northern Exposure

Cruise line: Regent Seven Seas Cruises

The ship: Seven Seas Explorer

Vital stats: 750 passengers, 542 crew

The journey: Oslo to Stockholm over 10 nights (departs 20 August)

Ports of call: London, Bruges, Amsterdam, Copenhagen, Berlin, Gdansk, Visby

Wining and dining: Eight restaurants, four bars and a casino

Wellness: Jogging track, paddle tennis court, golf nets, putting green, two pools, two jacuzzis, fitness centre and spa

The luxe factor ⭑⭑⭑⭑⭑

seven seas explorer rooftop pool

The dynamic capitals of London, Berlin and Copenhagen. The picturesque canals of Amsterdam and sleepy medieval beauty of Bruges and Gdansk. Traversing the North and Baltic seas, this route celebrates the character-filled cities of the northern continent. The magic of the Scandinavian summer is yours amid the luxury of Seven Seas Explorer, adorned with marble floors, Versace crockery and art by Picasso and Chagall.

SEE ALSO: Why a Cruise Ship is the Best Way to Discover Antarctica

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