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Cruising into 2017

Posted in DESTINATIONS By Maggie O' Sullivan

© AbElena/thinkstock

Splurged on designer cruise wear this season? You’ll need a cruise to go with it. Cruise lines are constantly innovating and if you’ve never fancied a holiday at sea, 2017 might be time to take another look at what’s on offer. If you’re really not sure cruising is for you, try a ‘taster’ or mini cruise. Celebrity Cruises, for example, has a two-night ‘Taste of Modern Luxury’ weekend break from Southampton to Paris during which wine expert Amelia Singer will be hosting a series of talks and interactive tastings. From £399 per person, based on 19 May 2017 departure.© Delpixart/thinkstock

A cruise can be a great way to visit several destinations in one trip without having to pack and unpack the cruise wear every couple of days. It’s worth noting that if you’re planning a Caribbean cruise which includes Cuba, a number of mainstream American cruise lines have finally got the green light to visit Havana in 2017 and more will follow, so if you want to beat the crowds, go sooner rather than later. MSC Cruises has availability on its seven-night Caribbean, Cuba and Antilles cruise, departing Cuba and including Jamaica, Cayman Islands and Mexico, cruise aboard MSC Opera, departing 18 March. From £909, including flights. © takepicsforfun/thinkstock

Look for early bird deals and always view the brochure prices as a guide – in most cases you’ll get a better deal from a travel agent specialising in cruises – and be wary of discount prices based on an inside cabin (ie, one with no windows). Take a look at APT’s 90th Anniversary Sale, currently offering a range of great value deals across its most popular European and Asian river cruises. There are great savings to be had on the APT 15-day Magnificent Europe trip from Amsterdam to Budapest (from £2,295, including flights) and on its 15-day Vietnam & Cambodia Highlights luxury cruise from Ho Chi Minh City to Siem Reap. From £3,295 per person, including flights.© COffe72/thinkstock

Gone are the days when cruises were all about eating as much as possible then waddling ashore for a few hours’ shopping. Many are highly educational, offering classes, workshops and lectures on a wide variety of topics. Voyages to Antiquity, for example, has a fantastic line-up of guest speakers in 2017, including historians, geologists, wine connoisseurs and astronomy experts. On an 18-day cruise from Athens to Seville, art historian, author, professor, art gallery director and art critic for The Scotsman Duncan Macmillan will be on hand to bring the art of Ancient Greece, Sicily and Spain to life. From £2,695 per person, departing 16 October 2017.A cruise can also be a great way to visit destinations that are otherwise difficult to get to, such as the Arctic or Antarctica, in the company of experts. Even though these expedition cruises involve a certain amount of scrambling in and out of inflatables (not much call for designer cruise wear, alas), you don't have to rough it aboard: later this year Silversea’s will be relaunching its Silver Cloud as the world’s most luxurious ice class vessel. The 10-day Ushuaia to Ushuaia Antarctic Expedition cruise, visiting the Antarctic peninsula and South Shetland, has departures throughout December 2017 and January and February 2018 and costs from £7,550 per person with Last Frontiers

BY MAGGIE O'SULLIVAN

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