A day of cruising is measured in meals. At sea, there’s nothing to distract you from the task at hand: relaxing, indulging and letting it all go. The most important item of business is snagging a poolside lounger and keeping yourself in cocktails. Unless, of course, you choose to avail yourself of the myriad onboard activities, from sports to spa treatments. Whether you’re into leisure or you can’t sit still, there’s a Royal Caribbean cruise for you. These are our top picks for 2016’s best cruises.
Wave a royal goodbye to Windsor Castle as you set sail from England’s historic Southampton on a journey through dramatic windswept mountains and glacial scenery to Norway. After a day of sampling the Navigator of the Sea’s many facilities, such as the surfing wave-pool, or just relaxing in your ocean-view stateroom with floor-to-ceiling windows, you’ll drop anchor in Bergen. The charming medieval city is set among seven mountains whose forested peaks have inspired artists and writers over the centuries. Your next destination is the quaint village of Olden, where breathtaking views of glittering blue glaciers and towering fjords meet at every turn. You'll also be stopping in at Alesund and Stavanger before winding your way back to Southampton. On cruising days, enjoy the ship's 15 decks and 10 pools and spas, ice-skating rink, mini-golf course, and indulge in its specialty fine-dining restaurants.
Sail out of Baltimore’s original seaport for an eight-night cruise through the Bahamas aboard Royal Caribbean fleet’s state-of-the-art Grandeur of the Seas. When the sun goes down, settle in for a night’s entertainment watching the mesmerising aerial acrobatics show before heading to the R Bar for a sophisticated cocktail served in a 1960s style bar. On day three, stop in Port Canaveral in Orlando, Florida for a day filled with the city’s world-famous theme parks before the serious luxuriating begins. Nassau is the first Bahaman port, where clear turquoise waters meet white sand. The tiny island of CocoCay is a water-sports heaven, with kayaking, jet-skis, parasailing, and snorkelling, plus gorgeous nature walks. En route to your final stop Key West, avail yourself of a five-course culinary delight at the Chef’s Table, or enjoy a wine-tasting with a Royal Caribbean cellar master aboard.
Travel around the Horn
Experience the best the great continent of South America has to offer from the comfort of the Rhapsody of the Seas, one of Royal Caribbean’s Vision Class ships, which were designed to offer more glass windows than any other ship — all the better to watch the glorious surrounds glide by. Set out from Brazil’s sprawling Sao Paulo with its museums, architecture and eclectic dining scene. You'll head to the port city of Buenos Aires, Argentina, where the steaks are world-class and the city squares teem with tangoing couples and open-air markets. Continue through Montevideo and Puerto Madryn before rounding celebrated Cape Horn, Chile, to absorb the windswept views of the place they call “the far end of the earth”. The world’s southernmost city is Ushuaia in Argentina, whose sub-Antarctic forests have been explored by the likes of Magellan and Darwin. More Chilean ports await as the ship makes its way through the Strait of Magellan before the colourful buildings surrounding the port of Valparaiso come into view.
Dubai is a blend of the futuristic and fantastical, making it the perfect place to explore before embarking on the Vision of the Seas for a seven-day Arabian Gulf cruise. Spend the first night exploring the ship’s many attractions, such as the Champagne Bar and the top-notch Broadway style entertainment. The second day sees the ship dock in the enchanting colonial city of Khasab in Oman. Your journey continues on the country’s capital Muscat, where it's obligatory to take to the water again in a traditional dhow to view the labyrinthine streets and the sultan’s palace. Fishing village turned thriving capital Abu Dhabi is rich in museums, historic mosques and traditional bazaars for an action-packed day on terra firma. Enjoy the ship’s steakhouse for a change of pace before heading back to the city that oil built, Dubai.
Pacific Northwest luxury
The USA’s Pacific Northwest coast is among the world’s most stunning natural wonders, full of towering redwoods, a pristine coastline and snow-capped volcanoes. Step aboard the Explorer of the Seas to experience a nine-night journey from Washington state right up to the foothills of the Rockies in Canada. In Seattle, soak up the scene in a coffee house or take in some live music before departing for Victoria, British Columbia. The capital is full of heritage architecture in its Old Town, complete with blooming gardens and scenic harbour. More Canadians stops follow, including Nanaimo, Lake Louise, Banff and Calgary. In between stops, increase your zen at the ship's Vitality Spa and enjoy delicious meals in the spectacular three-storey dining room.