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15 amazing European cruises for 2021 from P&O Cruises & Royal Caribbean to MSC and Saga

Author: Nicole Carmichael

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Cruise holidays not likely in 2021? Think again, because there are some fantastic voyages on offer right now – and we’ve tracked down 15 of the best, from just £499.

While travel was the least of the world’s worries in 2020, there’s no doubt that dreams of escape helped many of us get through the lockdown.

And this year, while we’re still getting mixed messages about land-based travel – the restrictions seeming to change weekly according to the traffic-light list – the good news is that cruise lines have been working super-hard to keep their passengers safe, with the result that voyages in European waters are now being allowed to go ahead.

River travel was first to re-start, and there are plenty of fantastic trips this season on popular rivers such as the Danube, the Douro and the Moselle.

But the big story is that ocean lines are now offering classic cruises in the Aegean, the Adriatic and the Med, with the chance to sail aboard sparkling new ships including MSC’s Virtuosa and P&O’s Iona. Book now and you really could be setting sail this year, in late summer or early autumn, when the weather is still balmy but children are back at school. So go on, treat yourself – we promise it’ll be worth the wait.

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1. Moselle magic

October is a fantastic time to cruise the Moselle, with temperatures still warm even though autumn has begun. Imagine enjoying your morning coffee as you glide between vine-clad banks and pretty timbered villages, the trees just starting to turn golden. As well as superbly comfortable cabins, river ship A-Rosa Silva offers a heated outdoor pool and a spa with gym, sauna and treatment rooms – perfect for relaxation after a day spent exploring some of Germany’s loveliest landscapes.

Get on board

A-Rosa 5-night ‘Experience the Moselle’ cruise aboard A-Rosa Silva, round trip from Cologne via Cochem, Trier and Koblenz, departing 26 October 2021, from £1,095

2. Pretty Provence

The great artists who have lived and worked here – Matisse and Van Gogh among them – are a testament to the natural beauty of Provence. The area is steeped in history, too, with picture-perfect ancient towns including Arles and Avignon.

And with fabulous wines and a great culinary tradition, it is always a pleasure to visit. Sailing on the Rhone, AmaWaterways’ luxurious AmaKristina offers a Chef’s Table where a tasting menu is prepared right in front of you. Bon appetit!

Get on board

AmaWaterways 7-night ‘Colours of Provence’ cruise aboard AmaKristina, from Lyon to Avignon via Villefranche, Tournon and Arles, departing 18 November 2021, from £2,016.

3. City highlights

Two of the world’s great cities, Amsterdam and Berlin both have so much to offer. Can’t choose between them? Take to the water on Europe’s lesser-known northern canals and you can enjoy the Rembrandt Museum and the Brandenburg Gate in one unforgettable trip. Saga’s river cruiser Johannes Brahms plies between the two destinations, carrying just 80 lucky guests in considerable comfort.

Get on board

Saga 10-night ‘Secret Waterways of Germany’ cruise aboard Johannes Brahms, from Berlin to Amsterdam via Hanover, Bremen and Lemmer, departing 21 August, from £2,279.

October is a fantastic time to cruise the Moselle, with temperatures still warm even though autumn has begun. Credit: Shutterstock

4. Danube delights

As the continent’s second-longest river, flowing for nearly 1,800 miles through much of central and southeastern Europe, the Danube offers an incredibly effortless way to explore great cities such as Vienna, Budapest and Bratislava. You’ll also discover beautiful small towns, historic castles and no end of stunning scenery along the way as you journey aboard the comfortable German-registered Amadeus Silver II.

Get on board

Amadeus River Cruises 7-night ‘Danube Rhapsody’ cruise, aboard Amadeus Silver II, round trip from Passau (Bavaria) via Vienna, Budapest and Bratislava, departing 30 October 2021, from £1,433

5. Greece is the word

Cruising is a brilliant way to experience the joys of island-hopping in Greece without the hassle of ferry timetables and endless packing. Choose Royal Caribbean’s Jewel of the Seas and you’ll enjoy the onboard facilities that only a megaship can offer. Not only that, but you’ll visit stunning beaches, pretty villages and ancient temples, soaking up the sights, sounds and flavours that make this part of the world a much-loved holiday hotspot.

Get on board

Royal Caribbean 7-night ‘Treasures of the Greek Isles’ cruise aboard Jewel of the Seas, round trip from Limassol via Rhodes, Mykonos, Athens, Santorini and Crete, departing 11 September 2021, from £869 including flights

6. River of gold

Flowing from central Spain to beautiful Porto on the Atlantic coast, Portugal’s mighty Douro River passes through historic towns packed with palaces, cathedrals and churches. The deep locks that tame this once turbulent waterway will add drama to your journey – but you can calm any nerves with a glass of the fortified wine that made Porto famous.

Get on board

Titan 7-night ‘The Enchanting River Douro’ cruise aboard MS Amalia Rodrigues, round trip from Porto via Regua, Pinhao and Salamanca, departing 12 September 2021, from £2,499 including flights

Cruising is a brilliant way to experience the joys of island-hopping in Greece. Credit: Shutterstock

7. Channel chill-out

Who says you need to leave the UK to have an amazing holiday? P&O was one of the first lines to offer British ‘seacation holidays, and their brand new Iona – the biggest cruise ship ever launched for the British market – is now sailing her maiden season. Join her at Southampton for a week-long treat, passing the Channel Isles of Jersey and Guernsey as you experience the ship’s incredible facilities, including her own onboard gin distillery.

Get on board

P&O 7-night ‘Southern Short Break’ cruise aboard Iona, round trip from Southampton via the Channel Isles (ship-only cruise), departing 11 September 2021, from £649

8. Sunny Spain

Another new ship enjoying her maiden season this year is the stunning MSC Virtuosa. Featuring low-emissions green technology, she’s packed with everything you’d expect of a modern megaship, plus one or two surprises (meet Rob, the world’s first seagoing robot bartender). Departing from Liverpool and heading for the Spanish sun, this cruise is just the thing to give your tan a late-summer boost.

Get on board

MSC 13-night ‘Northern Europe’ cruise aboard Virtuosa, from Liverpool to Barcelona via Glasgow and Lisbon, departing 7 September 2021, from £1,129

9. Corsica... of course!

There’s no doubt we Brits love our Mediterranean holidays, but why have so few of us discovered Corsica? With its rich history, stunning beaches, superb cuisine and a whole host of hidden treasures, this French-speaking island is definitely one for your bucket list.

Get on board

CroisiEurope 7-night ‘Hidden Treasures of Corsica’ cruise aboard La Belle des Oceans, round trip from Nice via Ajaccio, Bonifacio, Porto Vecchio and Bastia, departing 22 August 2021, from £2,039

The Canary Islands offer visitors mild weather and warm sunshine all year round. Credit: Shutterstock

10. Cool Canaries

Dreading the winter chill? Then swap the UK’s grey skies for the sunnier climes of the Canary Islands. With their subtropical climate, these beautiful isles offer visitors mild weather and warm sunshine all year round. On this leisurely no-fly cruise, you’ll enjoy port stops in Lisbon and Madeira, as well as Gran Canaria and Tenerife, and you’ll be sailing aboard Fred Olsen’s sleek new flagship Bolette. Joining the fleet last year, she offers the classic style that Fred’s customers expect, together with all the facilities of a thoroughly modern cruise ship.

Get on board

Fred Olsen 14-night ‘Landscapes of the Canary Islands’ cruise aboard Bolette, round trip from Southampton via La Palma, Tenerife, Funchal and Lisbon, departing 6 December 2021, from £1,499

11. Head to the Med

Sky Princess is the newest addition to the Princess fleet and there’s so much to get excited about – including a chance to sample fine dining by 3-star Michelin chef Emmanuel Renaut, not to mention more than 20 other restaurants and bars. On board this great no-fly Med adventure you’ll enjoy award-winning luxury accommodation, while ashore you’ll get to explore great cities including Seville, Florence, Rome and Barcelona.

Get on board

Princess Cruises 14-night ‘Mediterranean Adventurer’ cruise aboard Sky Princess, round trip from Southampton via Seville, Barcelona, Marseille, Florence, Rome, Sardinia and Gibraltar, departing 22 October 2021, from £1,249.

12. Beautiful Bruges

Not quite ready for a cruise to distant destinations? Don’t worry – Celebrity Cruises has just the ticket with a short trip to northern Europe’s loveliest city. By day you’ll explore the medieval streets and tranquil canals of Bruges – then you’ll return to the sensational Celebrity Silhouette, fresh from a luxury makeover and now featuring no fewer than 14 chic bars and lounges.

All the onboard accommodation is super-stylish – but if you really want to push the boat out, book a suite in The Retreat, Celebrity Silhouette’s‘hotel within a hotel’. Bliss.

Get on board

Celebrity Cruises 3-night ‘A Taste of Luxury’ cruise aboard Celebrity Silhouette, round trip from Southampton via Bruges, departing 29 October 2021, from £499.

Beautiful Barcelona is ideal for exploring on foot or by bicycle. Credit: Shutterstock

13. Greek odyssey

Been dreaming of perfect blue skies and turquoise seas? Holland America want to whisk you off to the hotspots of the Aegean and the Adriatic on their elegant ship Eurodam. Sailing from unforgettable Venice, your Greek island-hopping adventure is the perfect combination of sunshine, cuisine and culture, taking in classical Rhodes, picture-postcard Santorini and vibrant Crete before returning you to Venice via sunkissed Montenegro and Croatia.

Get on board

Holland America Line 12-night ‘Mediterranean Empires’ cruise aboard Eurodam,round trip from Venice via Athens, Rhodes, Chania, Santorini, Kotor and Korcula, departing 6 October 2021 from £2,099.

14. Culture club

Overdone the box-sets in lockdown? Feed your soul with a visit to Europe’s temples of culture – from beguiling Bruges to buzzing Bilbao, famous for its spectacular Guggenheim art museum. Sailing aboard NCL’s sparkling Norwegian Star, this delightful no-fly cruise even fits in excursions to romantic Paris and wine-lovers’ heaven Bordeaux.

Get on board

Norwegian Cruise Lines 10-night ‘France, Spain, Portugal & Belgium’ cruise aboard Norwegian Star, round trip from Southampton via Bruges, Bordeaux, Bilbao, Porto and Guernsey, departing 14 October 2021, from £891

15. Intro to Iceland

Despite the name, Iceland is anything but chilly in late summer, and its pristine landscapes, breathtaking fjords, black sandy beaches and natural hot springs make it a truly unique cruising experience. You’ll want to choose a cruise line that knows the territory, so who better than Viking, whose award-winning small ships are a byword for comfort and chic Scandi style?

Get on board

Viking 7-night ‘Iceland’s Natural Beauty’ cruise aboard Viking Jupiter, round trip from Reykjavik, departing 31 August 2021, from £2,640.

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