Our Top 10 Classic Cruises

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Cruising is one of the most popular ways to explore the world, but the mark of a successful high seas holiday isn’t just about a great ship. Great ocean crossings, iconic ports of call, and cruising along famous rivers and through scenic regions are just as important in the overall experience. Here’s our top 10 classic cruises to whet the appetite.

1. Alaska's Inside Passage 

Shaped by glaciers, Alaska’s famous inland waterway is a dramatic landscape of lush scenery, towering peaks, deep fjords, and wildlife including humpback whales, American bald eagles and bears. Hundreds of cruise ships venture here between May and September; besides visiting historic destinations such as Juneau, Ketchikan and Skagway, you’ll also enjoy a lineup of unique activities from dog sledding and bear watching, to glacier walking. 

2. The Panama Canal

An 80 kilometre-long canal connecting the Atlantic and Pacific Oceans at the Isthmus of Panama, it allows ships to glide over the spine of a continent 25 metres above sea level. For a cruise ship captain it’s a stressful transit, but for guests it’s a leisurely experience that truly grips the imagination. All you have to do is sit back in a comfy chair, order a drink, and look on as one of the great engineering achievements of the 20th century passes before your eyes.

3. A Transatlantic Crossing

Cunard’s ships have been crossing the Atlantic Ocean to and from New York since 1840, making this high seas adventure both a classic route as well as a traveller’s rite of passage. It’s a throwback to a golden era of travel, and an opportunity to kick back on the high seas, with the bonus being a breathtaking arrival into, or departure from, one of the world’s great cities. 

4. The Danube and Rhine Rivers

Europe’s most iconic cruise routes whisks travellers along two of the world’s great rivers from one side of Europe to the other. Along the way you travel through the Netherlands, Germany, Austria and Hungary, enjoying a rich lineup of destinations with historic castles, lush vineyards and charming villages, and the opportunity to explore must-see cities including Cologne, Vienna and Budapest.

5. Trans-Tasman

Epic landscapes, fascinating cultures, and plenty of laid back charm are a few of the experiences of a cruise from Australia to New Zealand. Besides a historic crossing of the Tasman Sea, you’ll also explore destinations including cosmopolitan Auckland, Art Deco Napier, the scenic Bay of Islands, and the dramatic Fiordland National Park. You’ll also go wine tasting in the Marlborough region, visit The Lord of the Rings country, and swim with Hector’s dolphins in Akaroa.

6. Asia’s Route of The Traders

From sun-kissed beaches and tropical jungles, to ancient history and exotic cuisine, Southeast Asia continues to enthrall travellers, and exploring this region by ship provides travellers with a unique perspective. Hong Kong and Singapore are two highlights, but also on offer following this ancient high seas route are historic destinations including Ho Chi Minh City, Halong Bay, Bangkok, and a slew of exotic beaches.

7. The Greek Islands

This breathtaking, scenic corner of the world is ideal for cruising, packed with islands, charming whitewashed villages, leafy olive groves and sandy beaches. Travelling by ship allows you to experience all of Greece’s charms, and to immerse yourself into a unique history and culture, exploring destinations including the cradle of civilisation, Athens, the hip island of Mykonos, romantic Santorini and traditional Corfu. 

8. Scandinavia And The Baltics

Blessed with long summer days and an ever changing scenery, Europe’s northernmost countries are also ideal to explore from the water. On offer is a lineup of Scandinavian and Baltic capitals and medieval towns, along with dramatic fjords, rugged coastlines and new experiences from cuisine to culture. Diversity reigns here, from cool Amsterdam and Copenhagen, to Helsinki, historic St. Petersburg, and Norway’s capital Oslo.

9. The Mekong River

The longest river in Southeast Asia, The Mekong stretches 4,350 kilometres southwards from China, with two main regions possessing scenic beauty as well as historical and cultural significance. Cambodia is one, with its striking temples, historical sites, and ancient cities including Phnom Penh, while the other is the Mekong Delta, dubbed Vietnam’s “rice basket”, and a vast landscape of green fields and sleepy villages, crisscrossed by narrow canals.

10. The Western Mediterranean  

History and art lovers, culture vultures, culinary aficionados, people watchers and beach goers will find this part of Europe hard to beat. A lineup of alluring destinations in Italy, Spain and France await your attention; on a given day you can explore Barcelona’s Las Ramblas or go wine tasting in Southern France, while on another you’ll be testing your photographic skills on a side trip to Capri from Naples, or mixing it up with the rich and famous in Monte Carlo.


Joanna Hall