by John Wilmott, The Telegraph, July 2, 2018
Travelling by sea has always held a sense of romance. But if you are on honeymoon or marking a wedding anniversary, for example, you may be seeking a cruise that ticks several boxes when it comes to matters of the heart. A deluxe ship, a glamorous itinerary or a combination of the two – there are plenty of choices where love will be in the (sea) air. Here are five suggestions of destinations and cruises for true romantics (all prices exclude flights)…
Hvar, Croatia - Star Clippers
A ship with sails makes even the most seasoned traveller go starry-eyed. With a crew doing all the work while you sit back with a cocktail and enjoy the ride, Star Clippers has an enchanting formula. On an 11-night Italy, Montenegro and Croatia journey from Civitavecchia (near Rome) to Venice on flagship Royal Clipper, probably the most alluring port is Hvar, a Croatian island that tries to rival Mykonos for chicness but can never shake off its picturesque charm.
Wander along the waterfront of the eponymous capital, past postcard-worthy St Stephen’s Square, and curl around the bays on the tree-shaded promenade to drool over shiny sports boats. There’s plenty more to love on this itinerary, especially in Italy –Taormina with an epic view of Mount Etna, dapper Ponza in the Pontine Islands and its neighbour Palmarola, boasting emerald bays.
Departs June 15, 2019, from £2,585pp (0845 200 6145; starclippers.co.uk)
Santorini, Greece – Holland America Line
The whitewashed terraces, the unmistakable blue domes of the churches, the trendy bars from which to admire the wonderful view of a semi-sunken volcano… it’s no wonder Santorini appeals to those who want to share memorable moments with someone special. Holland America’s nearly-new and very classy Koningsdam spends a day here on an 11-night Ancient Empires cruise, a round-trip from Rome.
A bonus is that the ship’s entertainment programme and cuisine are geared to sophisticated couples. The itinerary also includes Mykonos, where the “beautiful people” tan themselves on lovely beaches and the cute windmills invite selfies, and Rhodes, whose Unesco-listed walled old town is beguiling and has several desirable jewellery shops if you wish to treat your partner.
Departs April 29, June 1 and August 10, from £1,499pp (0344 338 8605; hollandamerica.com)
Capri, Italy – Hapag-Lloyd Cruises
Capri beats pretty much anywhere in Europe when it comes to jet-set appeal. Just seeing its cliffs and hill-climbing villages appear as your ship approaches is enough to prompt a warm glow inside. As well as browsing the cultivated boutiques in the lanes of the old town, it’s almost compulsory to take a small-boat trip to admire the Blue Grotto and pass through the arch of the mighty Faraglioni rock formation.
Hapag-Lloyd Cruises brings its five-star, bilingual Europa 2 here on an 11-night itinerary from Venice to Monte Carlo, which is packed with more gorgeous spots. There’s Portofino, where celebrities love to be spotted among the brightly-painted old houses; stone-built Monopoli in Italy’s far south; stunning Bonifacio, clinging to a sea cliff in Corsica; and elegant Nice, where blooms for your loved one can be purchased from the flower market.
Departs July 1, 2019, from £5,729pp (0800 0513 829; hl-cruises.com)
Ibiza, Spain – MSC Cruises
Forget the hedonistic image – it’s easy to avoid the clubbers on trendy Ibiza and enjoy the charisma of the old town, Dalt Vila, and the island’s delightful coves. The little capital has 16th-century walls that protect grand houses and stone streets with quirky shops and endearing restaurants. A slow stroll up to the cathedral and castle will be rewarded with fine views.
Fun-loving cruise line MSC is a regular caller here, making a weekly seven-night circuit of Spain, Italy and France during summer. Fantasia stays until 7am the next morning, so if you really did want to go to one of the superclubs…Among the other romantic places on this loop are the majesty of Florence’s Doumo or Pisa’s Leaning Tower (from Livorno) and increasing fashionable Palma, Mallorca.
Departures early May to early August (from Palma, Marseilles or Genoa) from £519pp (0203 426 3010; msccruises.co.uk)
St Tropez, France - Seabourn
Stylish suites, a dreamy spa and endless free champagne may be all you need to put the spark into a relationship, but Seabourn’s luxurious, intimate Odyssey also takes in several chic destinations on a seven-night Rivieras cruise from Barcelona to Rome. Sipping coffee in the landmark Senequier café along the waterfront of St Tropez (perhaps at the same table where Joan Collins sits) sums up the good life. A-listers from around the world still walk the city’s fashionable boulevards, so don those oversized sunglasses and you could be mistaken for a star.
Sailing into the narrow harbour of Mahon, Menorca, is always enlightening. Following in the footsteps of Byron and Dante at stylish Portovenere is indeed pure poetry. And viewing the honey-stone facades of ancient yet sassy Calvi in Corsica will have you reaching for your camera. Just three more treats on a voyage to awake the senses.
Departs June 3, 2019, from £3,199pp (0344 338 8615; seabourn.com)