Set sail for new horizons with these outstanding cruises that are launching in the new year. From a chocolate-lovers’ river cruise in Europe to an exotic Australia and South Pacific adventure, these cruises go beyond your average float. For fresh jaunts around the globe, check out our top 10 picks.
California Wine Country Sailing over Valentine’s Day
What’s New: Upscale Azamara Club Cruises‘ new 8-night “Coastal California” voyage is worth raising a glass to, with a round-trip itinerary from Los Angeles that calls on Californian ports like San Francisco (where it docks for three full days), Santa Barbara, and Monterey (along with a dip into Ensenada, Mexico). With scheduled visits to renowned and romantic wineries in Napa and Sonoma Valleys (like Francis Ford Coppola’s Inglenook Winery), and a sailing date that overlaps with Valentine’s Day, it’s a well-crafted couples escape.
Set Sail: Cruise embarks February 10, 2014, aboard the 694-passenger Azamara Quest; rates from $1,499/person, including gratuities, butler service in suites, and select onboard beverages (including wine).
Book It: Visit Azamara Club Cruises
Far East Flings on New Power Yacht Sailings
What’s New: High-end, small-ship cruise line Windstar Cruises will mark its first foray into Asia and the Middle East in 2014 with sailings aboard the brand-new 212-passenger Star Pride— the first of the line’s upcoming trio of all-suite power yachts. Try one of the “Singapore & Malay Peninsula” itineraries, embarking in December 2014, and sail away from Singapore for an exotic regional sampler to ports in Malaysia (Penang, Langkawi, Pulau Pangkor, Kuala Lumpur, and Malacca) and Thailand (Phuket, Ko Yao Noi).
Set Sail: Cruises embark December 2 or 12, 2014, aboard the Star Pride; rates from $3,999/person, including non-alcoholic beverages.
Book It: Visit Windstar Cruises
Chocolate Connoisseurs Cruise on the Danube River
What’s New: As if a springtime cruise down the Danube River wasn’t sweet enough, AmaWaterways will debut a decadent 7-night “Chocolate Connoisseurs Cruise,” to be hosted by accomplished chocolatier Norman Love. Look for chocolate-themed onboard extras like cacao-inspired seminars, tastings, cooking demos, and even mini-buffets. Then walk it off in old-world ports—the cruise sails from Vilshofen, Germany, to Budapest, Hungary, with stops in Passau, Germany; Linz, Melk, and Vienna, in Austria; and Bratislava, Slovakia.
Set Sail: Cruise embarks April 28, 2014, aboard the 164-passenger AmaCerto; rates from $3,099/person, including daily excursions, wine, Wi-Fi, and bicycle usage.
Book It: Visit AmaWaterways
New Quantum of the Seas to Sail to Martinique & More
What’s New: Royal Caribbean is gearing up to launch 2014’s most buzzed-about new cruise ship, Quantum of the Seas, scheduled to enter the market in November. Look for wow-factor onboard extras like bumper cars, a skydiving simulator, and even an extendable-arm observation pod. The ship will homeport in Bayonne, NJ (near NYC), with year-round itineraries to the Bahamas and Caribbean. Try the 11-night “Southern Caribbean” sailing, with stops in Puerto Rico, St. Maarten, Barbados, and St. Kitts, as well as Martinique, a newly accessible port of call for Bayonne-area travelers.
Set Sail: Cruise embarks December 1, 2014, aboard the 4,180-passenger Quantum of the Seas; rates from $1,894/person.
Book It: Visit Royal Caribbean
Explore Antarctica on BBC Earth Partner Expeditions
What’s New: Tauck’s recent partnership with BBC Earth (producer of acclaimed nature documentaries like Planet Earth and Life) has birthed special “Earth Journeys,” debuting next year. Sample the new cruise product aboard the 12-night “Antarctica” journey, leaving from Ushuaia, Argentina, with Antarctic stops in Elephant Island, Deception Island, Port Lockroy, and Paulet Island. Itineraries will be enhanced with screenings of exclusive BBC Earth-produced Antarctica documentary films, along with special filmmaker technologies like thermal-imaging and pole-mounted underwater cameras, long-distance microphones, and more.
Set Sail: Cruise embarks December 7, 2014, aboard the 264-passenger Le Soleal; rates from $9,265/person, including guided excursions, gratuities, beverages, and pre-cruise two-night hotel stay in Buenos Aires.
Book It: Visit Tauck
River Cruise to France’s Bordeaux and Aquitaine Regions
What’s New: Viking Cruises will be plying new European waterways in 2014, courtesy of their “Châteaux, Rivers & Wine” itinerary, beginning this March. The 7-night sailings embark (and disembark) in Bordeaux, traveling throughout France’s Bordeaux and Aquitaine regions, a land rife with historic sites and foodie-friendly favorites, from fine wine to cognac, oysters to truffles. Guests can expect culturally enriching offerings like sommelier-led wine-tastings, onboard French lessons, and stops at UNESCO–protected spots like the Blaye Citadel and the charming town of St. Émilion.
Set Sail: Cruises embark on select dates between March and December, aboard the new 190-passenger Viking Forseti; rates from $1,856/person, including guided excursions and onboard wine and beer with meals.
Book It: Visit Viking Cruises
Great Lakes and Georgian Bay Cruise on New Pearl Sea Cruises
What’s New: It’s not every day that a new cruise line is born, making the pending launch of Pearl Sea Cruises this June all the more intriguing. The company is slated to operate sailings in the Canadian Maritimes, St. Lawrence Seaway, Great Lakes, and New England regions, before moving on to the Caribbean for the winter season. We’re particularly keen on their 10- to 11-night “Great Lakes and Georgian Bay” itineraries, which will sail between Toronto and Chicago, with excursions throughout Ontario (including Niagara Falls) and Michigan (with the Mackinac Islands).
Set Sail: Cruises embark on July 30, or August 9, 20, and 30, aboard the new 210-passenger Pearl Mist; rates from $5,605/person, including alcoholic beverages.
Book It: Visit Pearl Sea Cruises
Beer-Tasting Cruise in Bavaria and Austria
What’s New: Beer lovers rejoice: Premier river cruise line Avalon Waterways is unveiling an “Austrian Highlights & Bavaria Beer Tasting” itinerary that’s sure to have lips smacking and glasses clinking. The 8-night fall voyage, cruising the Danube from Vienna to Munich, will feature stops throughout Austria and Bavaria, and hone in on regional beers with special onboard tastings, brew-themed lectures, and food-and-beer pairing dinners, as well as in-port, beer-focused stops like to the Kuchlbauer World of Beer or the German Hop Museum in Bavaria.
Set Sail: Cruise embarks October 13, 2014, aboard the new 128-passenger Avalon Artistry II; rates from $2,739/person, including excursions and select beverages (with wine and beer at dinner).
Book It: Visit Avalon Waterways
Expedition Cruises to Australia’s Kimberley Coast
What’s New: For seafaring adventurers in search of new terrain, team up with high-end Silversea for fresh expeditions to Australia’s remote northwestern fringes. “The Kimberly—Australia’s Hidden Treasure” 10-night itinerary sails from Darwin to Broome, with stops—mostly via zodiac—highlighting the wilds of Australia’s Kimberley Coast (like to the 550-foot-high King George Falls), as well as a brief dip into Indonesia (at Leti Island).
Set Sail: Cruise embarks April 12, 2014 (Tip: look for five other similar itineraries scheduled between mid-March and May), aboard the 120-passenger, all-suite Silver Discoverer; rates from $8,950/person, including excursions, beverages, and gratuities.
Book It: Visit Silver Sea
Cruise Australia & the South Pacific with Jean-Michel Cousteau
What’s New: Paul Gauguin Cruises is expanding its South Pacific presence with a new 11-night “Fiji to Australia” itinerary, sailing between remote Fijian ports and mainland Australia (at Cairns, the gateway to the Great Barrier Reef), with scheduled stopovers in the exotic island nations of Vanuatu and Papua New Guinea. Plus, benefit from the tutelage of a host of special onboard guests, including a champion freediver, and environmentalist and oceanographer Jean-Michel Cousteau (son of Jacques Cousteau).
Set Sail: Cruise embarks June 14, 2014, aboard the 332-passenger m/s Paul Gauguin; rates from $5,995/person, including beverages, gratuities, and airfare from LA.
Book It: Visit Paul Gaugin Cruises