Douro river

Think of Portugal and you rarely think of river cruises or the Douro River. The stunning river valley is punctuated with historic towns, vineyards and olive groves and meanders through both central Spain and northern Portugal. It is quickly becoming one of Europe’s most trending cruising destinations. The Travel Department is offering guide cruise tours through this scenic stretch of Iberia: guests will enjoy a seven-night stay on board the 4 Star MS Douro Cruiser with ports of call (pun intended) including Caldas de Aregos, Peso da Régua, Pinhão, Vega Terron and Barca d’Alva. You’ll also enjoy visits to the gorgeous cities of Porto and Salamanca where a mix of guided walking tours from local experts and personal downtime to wander the cities’ stunning sights sits on the itinerary. A full program of further optional excursions is also available at each stopover. Tours from €2999pp includes flights, transfers, a seven-night full-board cruise and selected excursions. Depart August 12th. traveldepartment.com

cityscape of porto in portugal at dusk

Florida with the Family

If you’re thinking of a one-stop-shop family holiday, cruises are emerging as a first-class choice for Irish travellers. “Today’s family-friendly ships have an array of exhilarating attractions that sit alongside the more relaxing options that are more traditional to cruising,” explains Deirdre Sweeny, cruise specialist with Sunway Holidays. “Some mega-ships like Norwegian Bliss have racetracks, where wannabe Lewis Hamilton’s can race around in racing car go-karts while LEGO is an exclusive partner with MSC so children can play with a vast selection of LEGO bricks and equipment in their Mini and Juniors clubs,” she adds. “Dining is easy too, with excellent buffets catering for the fussiest eaters and a larder of casual dining haunts adding to main restaurants and specialty options for grownups”. To dive into some of this family fun, Sunway is offering an Orlando Stay with Caribbean Cruise for two adults & two children, staying five nights in an Orlando hotel before enjoying a seven-night Caribbean cruise aboard Royal Caribbean’s Harmony of the Seas. Depart on October 22. From €5975 incl. flights and full board. sunway.ie

Nordic dreams

Seeking a more unplugged cruising destination? It’s hard to beat the serene scenes and pure tranquility of a Norwegian Hurtigruten cruise. Originally founded in the 1890s as a passenger ferry service to connect the communities of Norway’s rugged coastline, today the name is synonymous with being one of Europe’s most bucket-listed cruise experiences. Hurtigruten offers a whole range of tours along the coast from Bergen in the south to Tromso in the north but for an even more epic adventure, you can now cruise from the Norwegian territory of Svalbard, located between the North Cape on the mainland and the North Poles. This summer, the operator has revived the historic route that connects mainland Norway with Svalbard, where passengers can enjoy the high life — on the high seas — aboard the MS Trollfjord, which was freshly refurbished just this year. En route, you’ll navigate south from Spitsbergen, one of the world’s most remote and spectacular islands, to Norway to enjoy its postcard smattering of charming coastal communities. Take your pick from authentic, locally run optional excursions along the route glorious Midnight Sun at the height of the season. Departures from €3993;



Memories on the Med

MSC are one of the best-loved cruise operators with Irish consumers and their Mediterranean cruises offering a popular alternative to the traditional resort holiday. For some autumn sunshine, hop aboard the MSC Grandiosa for a mouth-watering western Mediterranean cruise. As one of the largest ships in its fleet, the vessel features thirteen restaurants alone inviting guests to taste-test their way across the seas with authentic cuisines from tapas to sushi. However, you may fill your appetite on the ground too with their seven-night tour taking in Barcelona, ​​Cannes, Genoa, Cinque Terre, Civitavecchia and Palma de Mallorca. Cruises including flights from Dublin to Barcelona starts from €1269 including flights, departing September 24. msccruises.ie

  MSC Grandiosa, Balcony MSC Grandiosa, Balcony

Piano Festival

Cruises have evolved to every market niche nowadays and specialist PONANT offers themed cruises on everything from yoga to environmental consciousness experiences. Music features too and their 8th Annual Piano Festival cruise aboard their Le Bougainville vessel is sailing from Greece to Italy this September. The cruise, in partnership with Radio Classique and in the accompany of the acclaimed French presenter Alain Duault (the Marty Whelan of France) sets off from Athens, taking in spectacular sights of Ancient Greece before crossing west to the gorgeous Sicilian resort of Taormina, where you can marvel at its famed Greek theater overlooking the shimmering sea. From there, you’ll head north for the Amalfi Coast, the jewel of Southern Italy, before reaching your cruise crescendo along the Tuscan shoreline in Livorno. Expect incredible music and exceptional cuisine to be on the set list en route, too. The seven-night cruises start from €3990 and depart on September 8; ponant.com

Vancouver & Alaska

Forget fly drive! One of the most popular tours nowadays for visitors traveling to North America is the fly and cruise option! Specialists Tour America offer a veritable fleet of cruises from Florida to the Caribbean but perhaps their most alluring of all is their nine-night getaway to Vancouver and Alaska. Travelers will enjoy two in Vancouver, one of Canada’s most cosmopolitan cities known for its excellent restaurant scene and seven nights about the Royal Caribbean’s Enchantment of the Seas. On your cruise, you can sit back and soak up the scenes of the spectacular coast of Alaska and British Columbia, taking in the sights from the famous Inland Passage and Tracy Arm fjord to the quirky city of Juneau Alaska. Cruises from €1549pp include return flights from Dublin, departing April 22 in 2023. Touramerica.ie

7. Vietnam & Cambodia

Irish travelers (just like the rest of the world) have a love affair with Thailand but Vietnam and Cambodia are becoming hot destinations for those seeking a more unspoiled Southeast Asian experience. And the iconic Mekong River which straddles both countries (along with China, Myanmar, Laos and Thailand!) makes the most iconic spot to drop anchor and experience the region. Boutique cruise operator Uniworld is offering a two-week trip from Ho Chi Minh City to Siem Reap taking in the rich riparian highlights of the region aboard the stunning new Mekong Jewel vessel. Traveling up the magnificent Mekong River, the lifeblood of Southeast Asia, you’ll experience everything from enchanting floating villages and go-slow pastoral life to on-the-ground excursions to the UNESCO-designated jungle temple complex of Angkor Wat. From €4799, departing September 15. Uniworld.com

8th. Antarctic Adventure

Have we saved the best ’til last? Well, it’s certainly the most boujee on the budget side. But we are talking Antarctica, the final frontier for many a globe-trotter and the ultimate cruise destination for the slightly more intrepid (and well-heeled). There are never been more cruise options to explore the region; Ponant features an environmental-themed cruise branded as The Emperor Penguins of Bellingshausen Sea where passengers will voyage on the high polar expedition vessel Le Commandant Charcot in the company of French mountaineer, writer and explorer, Laurence de la Ferrière. The cruise ventures deep into the heart of the Bellingshausen Sea where all eyes will be on a sighting of Emperor penguins, the unique penguin species endemic to the Antarctic. Departing from November 12 to 27 from €22,130 ponart.com

Penguin managed to save himself on one of the last ice floes.Penguin managed to save himself on one of the last ice floes.