www.costacruises.co.uk 0845 351 0552
Inspired by music, the colourful interiors of the Costa Pacifica characterise the lively atmosphere onboard. The Pacifica sails from Dover to Savona in Italy for a nine-night cruise calling at Guernsey, Vigo, Lisbon, Valencia, Barcelona and Monte Carlo. On board there is a Grand Prix Simulator, a spectacular outer deck with glass roof and night cinema, and a theatre with exceptional sound quality. For relaxation, there is the Samsara Spa. From £689 per person.
Cruise & Maritime Voyages
www.cruiseandmaritime.com 0845 430 0274
Britain’s newest cruise line, Cruise & Maritime Voyages, has two small ships, Marco Polo and Ocean Countess that sail from six different British ports. Both ships deal in sterling on board and the ships are geared for British clients seeking a ‘home from home’ style of leisurely cruising but with friendly and attentive service — there is one crew member to every two passengers.
The 800-passenger Marco Polo has built up a strong following with its Mediterranean cruises to Spain, the Balearic Islands, Portugal and Morocco. In 2009 she was voted the best cruise ship on www.cruise.co.uk. Marco Polo operates exclusively for adult passengers from her home port of Tilbury on the Thames, just ten minutes from the M25.
Following a £3 million refurbishment programme, the 800-passenger Ocean Countess (originally the impressive Cunard Countess) joined the fleet in April. She operates year round sailings from six British ports, plus Dublin in Ireland. The ship has a new main restaurant but has retained all the original deck space and sun terraces that were specially built for cruising in the Caribbean. In late September she will sail from Plymouth for the Mediterranean. Prices from £1,398 per person.
Great Rail Journeys
www.greatrail.com/cruises 01904 521 980
Great Rail Journeys don’t just arrive by rail, but choose the most convenient travelling times and the most comfortable trains, sometimes overnighting at a hotel en route. Passengers usually start their journey at London’s St Pancras International and go on to various British or European destinations. Because they operate with a range of partners, Great Rail Journeys offer a wide choice of cruise and ship, from a luxurious five-star cruiser to a small hotel-barge. A Great Rail Journeys group on board a ship usually consists of between 35 and 45 guests, benefitting from a dedicated tour manager (on the trip as well as the cruise) in addition to the ship’s staff. Some cruises, particularly on the smaller hotel-barges, are exclusive to Great Rail Journeys. A typical journey might last ten days and include a seven-night AMA Waterways ‘Premium Danube Cruise’ with shore excursions and wine at dinner included as well as return first class rail from London.
Prices vary tremendously, depending on the choice of cruise, but can start at £898 per person for a seven-day trip to the Scottish islands and lochs.
www.pocruises.com 0845 3 555 333
As P&O is based in the UK, all seven of its ships sail from and to Southampton with no flights involved. Azura, P&O’s brand new ship, launched by Darcey Bussell, has an Indian restaurant by Michelin-starred chef Atul Kochhar, and a wine bar by Olly Smith. It will offer Central Mediterranean cruises. Prices from £1,654 per person with £50 spending money.
Arcadia is an adults-only ship, featuring a restaurant with Gary Rhodes and an extensive spa with hydrotherapy pool and thermal suite with heated loungers. It will sail to the Canary Islands. From £1,137 per person.
www.princess.com 0845 3 555 800
Princess Cruises operates a fleet of 17 modern ships, renowned for their American-style luxury, that cruise to more places than any other cruise line: 330 destinations on all seven continents. They offer a range of innovative features, like Movies under the Stars and the adults only retreat, the Sanctuary. Princess Cruises was recently voted the Best Luxury Cruise Line 2009 at the British Travel Awards.
Onboard Grand Princess there are a variety of restaurants, including Sabatini’s Italian and the Crown Grill Steak House. There is even a wedding chapel.
Autumn cruises on offer include the ‘Mediterranean Medley’ and ‘Iberia’ from Southampton.
www.shearings.com 0844 209 7143
Bookings were up nearly a quarter last year so Shearings has launched its biggest ever programme for 2011 and increased its fleet of ships to five with the introduction of two new vessels, the four-star MPS Da Vinci and the four-star MS Seine Princess. Twelve new itineraries bring Shearing’s total number of river cruises to 41.
From £1,099 per person.