It is almost cruise season. Most local cruises start in November and run until April the following year.
Here are some suggestions:
Local and regional cruising
MSC Cruises offers itineraries ranging from three to 14 nights, sailing the Southern African coastline and into the Indian Ocean (stopping at ports in Mauritius, Mozambique, Reunion and Seychelles). These are incredibly popular with the local market.
Who’s it for: There are South Africans who every single year, book themselves on the same MSC Cruises itinerary. Some even book the same cabin. These cruises are ideal for families, groups, couples and even honeymooners looking for a hassle-free, value-for-money holiday.
What to expect: A down-to-earth, jolly good time onboard, with lots of family fun. You’ll eat a lot, stop off at some interesting spots on the longer itineraries and enjoy the festive atmosphere around the pools with the kids splashing nearby.
Boating the canals of Europe
Called barging holidays, Le Boat offers a self-drive (so to speak) holiday cruising the canals and waterways in nine countries across Europe, as well as Canada.
Who’s it for: Travellers looking for independence and those keen to tailor-make their itinerary. These cruises are ideal for immersing oneself within the heart of the destination, as they cruise through tiny villages and towns that are often missed by travellers.
What to expect: Captain your boat! Don’t be daunted – no experience is necessary, and you’ll soon get the hang of it. An expert team will guide you through the process on your first day and then you’re off to cruise the canals and journey through the lochs at your own pace. There are boats to suit couples, families and groups. Cruising the Canal du Midi in France is a Le Boat bestseller.
River cruising generally comes at a premium, and many out-of-this-world vessels are catering for the luxury traveller. Some river cruise lines, such as Uniworld, feature genuinely floating works of art, rivalling any land-based five-star hotel. River Cruises is a new trendy offering aimed at the millennial market.
Who’s it for: Travellers looking to immerse themselves in the heart of a destination, with an interest in history, culture and local life.
What to expect: It depends on your cruise line of choice, but expect to wake up in a new city or small town and days of exploration before returning to your ship for the evening. River cruises are popular in Europe, but there are also ones offered in Asia. A-Rosa, Uniworld, AmaWaterways and Avalon Waterways all offer river cruises.
Sara Park, Marketing Campaign Manager at Cruiseabout, a division of the Flight Centre Travel Group said expedition or adventure cruising has become more accessible to travellers.
“These types of trips were previously only explored by scientists, researchers and documentary makers, every traveller with the budget can follow in the footsteps of David Attenborough and the like on an expedition cruise,” she said.
Think cruises to Alaska, the Arctic and Antarctica. If that’s just a little bit too far, the Norwegian fjords are a slightly more ‘mainstream,’ accessible option.
Who’s it for: Adventure seekers, nature and wildlife lovers, and those looking to explore the ‘last frontiers’ of the globe.
What to expect: The star of the show is the surrounding landscapes. Nature-based experiences, lectures and talks are the highlights of the day. Hurtigruten’s smaller expedition-type vessels and unique itineraries come highly recommended.
Who’s it for: These cruises suit all the different kinds of traveller interests and budgets.
“Think adults-only cruises, family-friendly cruises (hello Disney!), themed cruises, cruise lines targeted at foodies, art lovers and more,” says Park.
What to expect: Park says that the Caribbean and Mediterranean are popular cruise destinations for the ocean liners. An around the world cruise is also something that features on many a travel bucket list. Unpack once and enjoy exploring a new destination every day. Some vessels can accommodate up to 3000 guests and have a staggering array of facilities onboard. You certainly won’t get bored.
You don’t have to own a yacht to have the celeb yacht experience. Ponant offers five-star luxury yacht cruising with French flair. These smaller vessels can access ports inaccessible to larger ships, adding to the exclusive experience of feeling like you’re on your yacht. Choose from different cruises offered around the globe.
The Moorings offers 400 yachts across the globe (some available for private charter), offering island hopping in areas from Tonga, Tahiti and Seychelles to the Bahamas.
Who’s it for: The discerning traveller looking for an exclusive experience.
What to expect: Expect a team of staff at your beck and call, stunning destinations and the freedom to follow the wind as you please.