Jane Archer, The Daily Telegraph, December 24, 2013
With a string of anniversaries coming up next year, pondering where to cruise should be a little easier. You could be celebrating the world’s greatest engineering triumph on a voyage through the Panama Canal, marking the moment the Berlin Wall came down and a divided country was reunited or joining other seafarers on a cruise to remember the millions who died in two world wars.
From the Irrawaddy to Siberia, Glasgow to Vienna, next year’s cruising hot spots can be combined with world-class art, new hotels and top sporting events, all of which can be visited at the start or end of an ocean or river cruise.
The spotlight will be on Berlin for much of 2014, which not only marks the 25th anniversary of the fall of the Wall on November 9 but also 20 years since Allied troops left the city, 49 years after the end of the Second World War.
A year of cultural events will mark the reunification, including cycle tours along the Wall path, visits to former watchtowers, East Berlin tours in a Trabant car and an exhibition by the artist Yadegar Asisi’s ( asisi.de ). On the weekend of November 8 and 9, a Berlin Wall will be fashioned from thousands of white balloons.
Viking River Cruises ( vikingrivercruises.co.uk ) includes a night here at the end of a seven-night Elbe cruise from Melnik in the Czech Republic to Magdeburg (from £1,745 departing November 1), but it makes sense to add another night or two. Try the Hotel Bikini Berlin ( designhotels.com ), which opens in January 2014, or the Steigenberger Hotel am Kanzleramt ( en.steigenberger.com/Berlin ), opening in May with views of the Reichstag. Riviera Travel ( rivieratravel.co.uk ) has eight-day Elbe cruises, also with a day in the city, from £1,499 departing in October.
Come summer, sporting eyes will be on Glasgow, host city of the 20th Commonwealth Games (from July 23 to August 3). Events will be held at 13 venues around the city, while diving will be at the Royal Commonwealth Pool in Edinburgh. Hotel capacity (and prices) are at a premium, but see telegraph.co.uk/travel for our recommended hotels.
Hebridean Island Cruises ( hebridean.co.uk ) has voyages around the Scottish Isles from Oban, about two hours from Glasgow, that can be combined with a few nights in the city (seven nights in July from £4,370). You can also visit Greenock, the port for Glasgow, on various round-Britain cruises. Princess Cruises’ Ruby Princess will be there on July 28 on a 12-day round-trip voyage from Southampton, from £1,646 departing on July 22. Celebrity Infinity will be there on August 11 and MSC Magnifica ( msccruises.co.uk ) on August 19.
An exhibition of the work of Fabergé, the Tsar’s jewellery maker, is one of several events spotlighting Vienna in 2014. It’s at the Kunst Historisches Museum ( tourism.khm.at ) from February to May.
At the Lower Belvedere Palace ( belvedere.at/en ) from February 14 to June 15, there is also a show of 20th-century art from Berlin and Vienna. An exhibition focused on the rebuilding projects that transformed the Austrian capital in the 19th century is showing at the Vienna Museum ( wienmuseum.at ) from March 21 to September 1.
A 15-day Scenic Tours ( scenictours.co.uk ) cruise between Amsterdam and Budapest spends two days in Vienna (from £4,495 departing on April 16), allowing time to see all of the above. The US tour operator Tauck ( tauck.com ) has a new seven-night Danube cruise between Regensburg and Vienna with two nights at the Ritz-Carlton Hotel in the Austrian capital (from $4,590/£2,808 departing on August 14 and excluding flights).
France and Belgium
With the 70th anniversary of the D-Day landings in June and the centenary of the outbreak of the First World War in August, thousands of visitors are expected to visit key sites in both France and Belgium. In Normandy the D-Day anniversary will be marked with historical re-enactments, military parades and exhibitions. The Queen will be guest of honour at the official commemoration ceremony on Sword Beach on June 6. On the same day, there will be a concert for peace at Sainte-Mère-Église.
Fred Olsen ( fredolsencruises.com ), Cruise & Maritime Voyages ( cruiseandmaritime.com ) and Swan Hellenic ( swanhellenic.com ) cruises commemorate both wars. Swan’s 13-day no-fly cruise from Portsmouth, priced from £2,335, departs June 4 and includes a service of remembrance off the Normandy beaches on June 6. Azamara Club Cruises’ ( azamaraclubcruises.co.uk ) Azamara Journey visits Cherbourg on June 6, with excursions to the landing beaches, on an 11-night voyage from Lisbon to Hamburg departing on June 3.
On the other side of the Atlantic the Panama Canal is also marking its 100th anniversary, in August. The 48-mile waterway, one of the world’s greatest engineering feats, connects the Pacific and Atlantic Oceans by a series of lakes and locks that shorten by weeks what would be a lengthy journey around Cape Horn. Thousands of cruise passengers will sail through the canal in 2014 – Princess ( princess.com ) alone expects to carry 67,000 – attracted not only by the anniversary but also because it’s all change in 2015, when new, wider locks are due to open, allowing larger vessels through.
For 2014, Holland America ( hollandamerica.co.uk ) has 28 full and partial transits (cruising half-way, then returning the same way) while Princess has 39. The latter has a 14-day cruise from Los Angeles to Fort Lauderdale departing on September 23 (from £1,318, cruise only). Variety Cruises ( varietycruises.com ) transits the canal on seven-night voyages between Herradura in Costa Rica and Cartagena in Colombia on the 72-passenger Variety Voyager until March 2014 (from €1,990/£1,662, cruise only).
Once synonymous with Stalinist labour camps, Siberia is now one of the most sought-after destinations for expedition cruise lines. Unspoilt volcanic landscapes, vast forests and tundra characterise the landscape, and wildlife includes bears, sea eagles and sea lions.
Both Silversea ( silversea.com ) and Noble Caledonia ( noble-caledonia.co.uk ) will be visiting Russia’s isolated Kamchatka Peninsula this year, the former on an 18-day cruise round-trip from Otaru in Japan departing on June 14, from £9,710 cruise-only, the latter on an 18-night cruise from Tokyo to Petropavlovsk departing on May 17, from £8,195.
Germany’s Hapag-Lloyd is venturing to the even-more remote Wrangel Island in the Chukchi Sea in the Siberian Arctic. The 18-day cruise, with anticipated sightings of polar bears and whales, departs from Nome in Alaska on July 28 and costs from £7,340, cruise only.
Burma was one of this year’s cruising hot spots by dint of its growing popularity and because of the number of ocean cruise lines adding it to itineraries. Now river cruise companies are following, launching on the Irrawaddy. Viking ( vikingrivercruises.co.uk ) starts sailing there in January, with a second vessel launching there in September. Pandaw ( pandaw.com ), is adding two more river cruise boats to the six it has in Burma. The Bagan-Mandalay itineraries are topped and tailed with a night in each city – facilitating further exploration.
Also new to Burma are Amadeus by Lüftner Cruises ( lueftner-cruises.com ), CroisiEurope ( croisieurope.travel ) and Wendy Wu ( wendywutours.co.uk ), which has 11-day private tours that can be combined with a cruise (from £2,690 departing on August 14).
AmaWaterways ( amawaterways.co.uk ) starts sailing the Irrawaddy in November, offering two 14-night itineraries sailing from Pyay to Mandalay on AmaPura and including three nights in Yangon. From £5,179 departing on December 6. Sanctuary Retreats ( sanctuaryretreats.com ) is launching the Sanctuary Ananda on December 3.
Next year marks the 20th anniversary of the start of the television series Friends – and, coincidentally, also 10 years since the series officially ended. For Friends fans, On Location’s ( onlocationtours.com ) three-and-a-half-hour TV & Movie Sites tour takes in several favourite sites from the series, including the apartment where Rachel and Monica lived.
All three of Cunard’s Queens will converge in Southampton on May 9 next year to mark Queen Mary 2’s 10th anniversary, which is also being celebrated with two special voyages from Southampton to New York on May 9 and back again on May 16.
Why not combine one of Cunard’s ( cunard.co.uk ) regular transatlantic crossings between Southampton and New York with a few nights in the Big Apple? Look out for new hotels from Park Hyatt ( park.hyatt.com ), Baccarat ( baccarathotels.com ) and the luxury brand SLS Hotels ( slshotels.com ), which is opening in the city’s trendy NoMad neighbourhood.
Jetline Cruise ( jetlinecruise.com ) has a seven-night cruise on the Queen Mary departing from Southampton on November 12 with two nights in New York, from £1,250 including return flight.
From the Big Apple to India, where Assam Bengal Navigation ( assambengalnavigation.com ) is launching the 44-passenger Rajmahal on the Ganges in early 2014, sailing from Patna to Varanasi. Designed with a shallow draught to accommodate the low-water levels at Varanasi, the ship is putting one of India’s great holy cities firmly on the river-cruise map.
New York’s renowned Le Cirque restaurant has opened its second Indian outpost (the first is in New Delhi and others are to open in Bangalore and Chennai in 2014) on the top floor of the Leela Mumbai ( theleela.com ).
Voyages of Discovery’s ( voyagesofdiscovery.co.uk ) 18-day cruise to Safaga in Egypt in March includes a night in Mumbai at the start, ideal for those keen to explore the city. The cruise departs on March 21 and costs from £1,459. All-inclusive line Regent Seven Seas Cruises ( rssc.com ) will also spend two days in the city on a 20-night voyage from Laem Chebang (Thailand) to Dubai.
This key Caribbean cruising hub is consolidating its position next year with new accommodation, including the island’s first Sandals ( sandals.co.uk ) all-inclusive property, and new twice-weekly Thomas Cook Airways ( flythomascook.com ) flights from Manchester. The new 280-room Sandals Barbados opened on November 6; double rooms cost from £1,379 for a week in May and June including flights.
In the spring, Unna will have apartments to rent at the new Port Ferdinand ( portferdinand.com ) marina and residences. From November Thomson Cruises ( thomson.co.uk/cruises ) starts seven-night cruises from Bridgetown on Thomson Celebration; they can be combined with a week at either resort, from £949 departing on December 7. Star Clippers ( starclippers.co.uk ) and Windstar ( windstarcruises.com ) also have cruises from Bridgetown. P & O Cruises ( pocruises.com ) has 15-night voyages from Bridgetown on Ventura and Azura from £1,099 departing on January 25.
Telegraph Cruise Show
Whether you’re a seasoned veteran or a first-timer, our three-day event in January 2014 will answer your questions and give you a taste of life on board. Click here to find out more .