by Joanna Booth, The Telegraph, August 6, 2018
Incredible Mediterranean voyages that will provide a fresh take on cruising.
1. Cyclades odyssey
The handsome, nimble motor-sailing cruiser Galileo will whisk 49 passengers on a whistle-stop tour of the Cyclades, surely Greece’s most striking island group. Pairing popular stops such as volcanic Santorini and vibrant Mykonos with tranquil Antiparos and untouched Folegandros, the itinerary also blends sightseeing with sunbathing, swimming and hanging out in tavernas. On board, your relaxing doze on a deckchair will be accompanied by the rhythmic rapping of the rigging.
From £1,683 for an eight-day Jewels of the Cyclades cruise departing June 14 2019. Variety Cruises (020 8324 3114; varietycruises.com).
2. Six-star sailing
Experience la dolce vita by cruising out of Venice on Scenic Eclipse, a yacht with va-va-voom where the 228 passengers are pampered with on-board butler service, a helipad and a submarine. Your voyage shows off the Western Med’s highlights – including walled Dubrovnik, volcanic Sicily, the plunging cliffs of the Amalfi Coast, and the French Riviera – but in a style most cruises can’t match.
From £5,895 for an 11-day Mediterranean Treasures itinerary departing May 20 2020, including flights and pre-departure hotel stay. Scenic Cruises (0808 252 7033; scenic.co.uk).
3. Coastal Montenegro tour
Hop aboard a four-cabin, 52ft sailing yacht and let the wind carry you down the coast of Montenegro, stopping off to wander through walled Venetian towns, for off-the-ship dips, and to sunbathe on otherwise inaccessible beaches. Pick up the basics from your skipper, or let him take over and just watch the waves. When night falls, you can curl up in your cosy berth, or snooze under the stars.
From £899 for an eight-day Montenegro Sailing tour departing May 2 2019. G Adventures (0344 272 2060; gadventures.co.uk).
4. Secret Greece
Haven’t heard of Evia? Luckily, you’re not the only one. Skipper Thanos will show your brood his boyhood haunts on this second-largest but little-visited Greek island. Sailing on a traditional wooden caique with eight cabins, the crew will happily show you the ropes, or you can kick back and relax in between swimming, turtle-spotting, and exploring castles, villages and temples onshore. You’ll soon understand why those in the know – who over the years have included the Greek royals, the Picasso family and Maria Callas – have been so keen to keep Evia their little secret.
From £695 per adult and £619 per child for an eight-day Family Caique Cruise departing July 28 2019. Minimum age seven years. Explore (01252 883959; explore.co.uk).
5. Yachting on the Riviera
Arrive in St Tropez in a style that will allow you to hold your head up in famous nightclub Les Caves du Roy. Share sleek mega-yacht SeaDream II with just 111 other guests, and hop along the Riviera, stopping at high-rolling Monte Carlo and candy-coloured Portofino before circling rustic but wildly beautiful Corsica, where your captain will navigate among Bonifacio’s white limestone cliffs, in a fjord too small for traditional cruise ships. Watch the nifty manoeuvring with a cocktail from the Top of the Yacht Bar.
From £3,285 for a seven-day Nice to Civitavecchia cruise departing Aug 17 2019. SeaDream Yacht Club (0800 783 1373; seadream.com).
6. Spanish island-hopping
Explore the Spanish coast on Star Flyer, a tall-masted ship carrying 170 passengers. Think teak, polished brass and two swimming pools, although you can climb up to the crow’s nest if you are keen. Visit historic Malaga and Cartagena, and the sun-kissed islands of Ibiza, Mallorca and Sardinia before finishing up in Malta.
From £4,195 for a nine-night Malta, Balearics and Spain cruise departing April 19 2019. Star Clippers (0845 200 6145; starclippers.co.uk).
7. Historic Turquoise Coast
Leave the raucous resorts behind and head offshore along Turkey’s pretty Turquoise Coast on a traditional wooden gulet. This two-week voyage between Dalaman and Antalya gives an in-depth insight into the mysterious Lycian civilisation, via castles and tombs found in secluded coves. After admiring the archaeology, you can hike, kayak, swim, or just have a snooze on deck and wait for a mountain of meze to appear, rather magically, from the tiny galley.
From £4,195 for a 15-day Cruising the Lycian Shore itinerary departing Aug 31 2019. Peter Sommer Travels (01600 888220; petersommer.com).
8. From the Med to the Red Sea
Voyage from the Mediterranean to the Red Sea on an opulent 62-passenger expedition yacht, viewing the historic treasures of Jerusalem before transiting the Suez Canal towards yet more ancient history – the pyramids, and Petra. On the all-suite, butler-serviced Crystal Esprit you’ll be able to toast your adventures – with Krug – before sitting down to a tasting menu where regional flavours are given international polish. Surely the pharaohs would approve.
From £6,276 for an 11-day Holy Land, Pyramids and Petra itinerary departing Nov 10, 2020. Crystal Cruises (020 7399 7601; crystalcruises.com).
9. Croatia minus the crowds
Croatia experiences chronic overcrowding, but visit on the 31-passenger Peregrine Dalmatia and local guides will show you its secluded side. Swim off the ship in deserted bays, dock in quiet island ports and then cruise up the Neretva river before hopping off to drive over the Bosnian border to Mostar. You won’t be completely alone in these sparkling waters, but we guarantee you won’t mind sharing when a pod of dolphins decides to buddy up with the ship for a mile or two.
From £1,730 for an eight-day Croatia Coastal Cruising – Split to Dubrovnik itinerary departing April 20 2019. Intrepid Travel (0808 274 5111; intrepidtravel.com).
10. Cycling and sailing through Italy's volcanic islands
See Stromboli’s spectacular ash plumes from the comfort – and safety – of Sundial, a 12-passenger, two-masted caique. You’ll sail among the volcanic peaks, black sands and cerulean seas of Italy’s Aeolian Islands, hopping off to cycle to spectacular caves, pretty villages and local wineries. If all those hills sound a little too much like hard work, never fear. Simply upgrade to an e-bike and you’ll swoop up them as effortlessly as Sundial herself, with the wind behind her.
From £1,455 for an eight-day Italy Bike & Boat: Sicily & The Aeolian Islands itinerary departing in August or September 2019, including bike hire. E-bike upgrades £95. Macs Adventure (0141 530 3630; macsadventure.com).