Looking out over the remaining 10 months of 2017, we see a lot of new and intriguing cruise sailings on the horizon. Like a good book, the cruise itineraries we’ve rounded up below are definite page-turners, and getting to the final chapter is always bittersweet.
If you're thinking about booking a cruise, here are six awesome cruise voyages still ahead in 2017.
Oceania: ‘Regal Routes’ with Jacques Pepin
Oceania Cruises, which many cruisers consider to have the finest cuisine at sea, will be welcoming culinary enthusiasts on board the Marina during a Jacques Pepin-hosted cruise. The 10-day “Regal Routes“ itinerary, departing from London on June 2, will be hosted by Pepin, who has served as Oceania Cruises’ executive culinary director since the line’s inception. There will be specially designed signature menus, lectures and culinary demonstrations as the ship sails toward Copenhagen, stopping along the way at 10 ports of call in the United Kingdom, France, Belgium, the Netherlands, Germany, Norway, Denmark and Sweden. It’s a great opportunity, Oceania says, for cruisers to interact and converse with team members and executives as well as participate in behind-the-scenes experiences that are not typically offered on other itineraries.
Rates start at $2,149 per person based on double occupancy.
Azamara: Retracing Hemingway's steps in Cuba
You’ve heard all the reports: There's lots of buzz about traveling to newly opened Cuba, but for those who want to see the island’s capital, Havana, in a more intimate way, consider a cruise on Azamara Club Cruises’ 690-guest Azamara Quest. The luxury ship will depart Miami on March 21 for the 12-night “Hemingway Hideaways“ voyage that includes a stop in Havana. “The new voyage,” says Larry Pimentel, Azamara’s CEO, “provides guests an overnight stay in Havana going above and beyond just a stop in port and offers a meaningful and engaging interaction with local Cuban residents.”
As part of the line’s “Land Discovery“ offerings, guests will have a selection of experiences to choose from while in Havana, including exploring the literary connections between Cuba and novelist Ernest Hemingway on a four-hour tour that offers the chance to see where he lived, fished, dined and sipped his favorite cocktails. There’s also an “Old Havana City Sightseeing“ tour during which cruisers will view fortresses, government buildings, historic squares, cemeteries and an artisan market. The port of call includes overnight time, so guests can have a more in-depth experience. The remaining portion of the itinerary includes stops in Key West, Tampa, New Orleans and Cozumel. Rates start at $3,849 per person.
Princess Cruises wants you to think about selling cruising to Japan. A cruise around Japan actually offers an out-of-the-box experience for many travelers. You'll have a chance to see historic temples in Kyoto; discover Taketomi Island, the site of a traditional Ryukyu village still preserved just off the shore of Ishigaki; explore Japan’s northernmost island, Hokkaido, where a variety of whales make their home; have the opportunity to grab a wicker basket and head to the fields for a hands-on tea-picking adventure in the countryside of Shimizu; and even take in the spectacular Awa Odori Dance Festival in Tokushima.
In fact, many of Princess’ itineraries focus on local festivals. Take the 9-day "Hokkaido with Nebuta Festival" itinerary, round-trip from Tokyo, that stops in Kushiro, Korsakov (Russia), Otaru, Hakodate and Aomori, with late nights in the last two ports of call. In Aomori, passengers experience the summertime Nebuta Festival, with impressive colorful floats parading through the streets. Departure is July 26. The 9-day "Spring Florida Festivals" itinerary pays homage to the cherry blossom festivals in Aomori and Akita, and takes a detour over to South Korea to get a look at the Tonami Tulip Festival in Toyama. Departure date is April 20.
For those who might not be able to get away on one of the festival-focused itineraries but do have more time on your hands, check out the 14-day “Ryukyu Islands, Kyushu & Shikoku” itinerary. It’s round-trip from Kobe and cruises to Okinawa, Ishigaki, Taipei (Taiwan), Busan (South Korea), Nagasaki, Miyazaki, Kochi and Tokushima. Departure is May 13.
The Holy Land
Crystal Cruises’ 2017 President’s Cruise is set for a Nov. 4 departure from Rome to Dubai and will mark the return of the cruise line’s ocean ships to the Holy Land, the last voyage being in 2012. “The Holy Land & Suez Canal” itinerary will sail on board Crystal Symphony throughout the Arabian Peninsula, and will include calls to Limassol, Cyprus; Haifa and Ashdod, Israel; a transit of the Suez Canal; Aqaba, Jordan; and Salalah and Muscat, Oman. The 18-day sailing will be hosted by the cruise line’s chairman, president and CEO Edie Rodriguez, who will join guests for festive receptions and parties, as well as specially planned shore experiences, including a visit to the Rose City of Petra. As part of the fun, there will be rock climbing excursions and Indian Ocean scuba dives in Salalah, as well as sky tea at the Burj Al Arab and sunset at the Burj Khalifa in Dubai. Rates start at $4,750 per person.
This year is a big one for Viking, as it celebrates its 20th anniversary and is set to double its ocean fleet to four 930-passenger sister ships by the end of the year.
Additionally, it has announced 13 new ocean cruise itineraries in Alaska, Australia, Asia and the Caribbean that will roll out in 2017, 2018 and 2019. For travelers who are looking to journey to exotic destinations next year, Viking is sailing on a "Passage to India" itinerary on Viking Spirit on Aug. 18, 2018. The Spirit will start its 21-day journey in Athens and as it makes its way to Mumbai it will stop at ports of call in six countries, including Israel, Egypt, Jordan and Oman. There’ll be the opportunity to hang with local guides as they take passengers to see ancient treasures, visit Petra and view the Great Pyramids and Sphinx in Cairo. According to a company spokesperson, the focus of a Viking ocean cruise is to showcase the “local history and culture.” Rates start at $5,999 per person.
Round the world
MSC Cruises is going on its first-ever World Cruise. Slated for a Jan. 5, 2019 departure and returning May 3, 2019, the 119-day World Cruise aboard MSC Magnifica will go round-trip from/to Genoa and cross six continents and 49 unique destinations in 32 countries. Shore excursions are dripping with indulgence, whether that means riding elephants in Pinnawala, snorkeling in the lagoons of Moorea, or touring the Nga Bay National Park in Thailand — and passengers will have the opportunity to book 15 complimentary shore excursions of their choice. Additionally, there will be four full days in Polynesia; three full days in both Hawaii and San Francisco; and two full days in Los Angeles, and there will be an average stay of 13 hours on shore per port of call. There are also stops in Tonga, Bora Bora, Cartagena, Fiji, the Maldives and New Zealand, as well as nine ports of call in the Caribbean islands. Rates start at $16,999 per person.
Additionally, MSC has just broken ground on the Ocean Cay MSC Marine Reserve, a private island exclusive to MSC passengers located south of Bimini in the Bahamas and set for a November 2018 debut. The reserve will have 11,400 feet of coastline and is said to have some of the finest aragonite sands in the world. The surrounding waters will be home to corals and rich aquatic life, and the landscaping plan calls for 80 indigenous Caribbean trees, grasses, flowers and shrubs. “Private islands and ports are becoming increasingly popular,” says Roberto Fusaro, president of MSC Cruises North America, “and vacationers are now searching for itineraries with these exclusive stops. MSC Cruises made this a priority with the development of Ocean Cay MSC Marine Reserve. Guests will have the opportunity to enjoy the beach and a number of family-friendly activities and entertainment during the day — conveniently get back on the ship to freshen up — and then go back to the island for dinner and evening entertainment.”
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Want to explore any of these special sailings? Contact us by email or call 1-877-322-3773 and we'll provide more information and book it for you if you'd like.