Though the COVID-19 pandemic put most of our travel plans for 2020 on hold, many people are dreaming of the days when they will be able to travel again. With good news about vaccines on the horizon – and some countries already vaccinating – it seems that time may be sooner than some of us expected with some experts saying things could return to “normal” by spring of 2021. We at Avid Cruiser are dreaming of the days when we will travel again. I know that I, for one, am quite literally counting down the days until the spring – daydreaming of trips that I want to take next summer and fall. So today I am going to share my daydreams with you.
Here are five voyages that I would like to take next year to ring in my return to the seas:
UnCruise’s Alaska Inside Passage & Glacier Bay Wilderness Cruise
This 12-night voyage sails from Seattle, Washington to Juneau, Alaska, or reverse. Since UnCruise’s Alaska voyages start earlier than some other companies, with the first departure of this itinerary on April 13, this itinerary could easily kick off my 2021 cruise season. I would feel comfortable returning to the seas with UnCruise for a number of reasons, but the most notable reason is that the ships are small.
All ships in UnCruise’s fleet carry less than 100 passengers and one ship that sails the itinerary, Safari Explorer, carries just 36 guests. UnCruise also sailed one itinerary this summer, and though they were only able to complete a partial sailing due to a potential COVID-19 exposure onboard, the way that they handled the outbreak gives me confidence that if something were to go wrong on board it would be handled appropriately.
Lastly, for my first voyage of 2021, I would feel comfortable doing it to Alaska. Though Alaska isn’t necessarily close to home, there is something comforting about knowing that my first voyage after the country’s lockdown would be within its borders. Don’t get me wrong, I am longing to sail throughout the world again but the thought of sailing through the United States is appealing to me.
There is more to my excitement about this voyage than safety, of course. In 2018 I interviewed UnCruise’s CEO, Dan Blanchard. Hearing him talk about UnCruises’ voyages, especially the itineraries in Alaska, made me long to take one of them. Kayaking, paddleboarding, hiking, and even snorkeling (yes, you read that right) enhance the already magical Alaska itinerary. And stops in Juneau, Ketchikan, and Sitka assure that I will see some of the best that the 49th state has to offer.
Rates start at $4,495 per person.
Silversea’s Galapagos Islands Cruise From Baltra To San Cristobal
Another small ship cruise, Silversea’s new Galapagos expedition ship, Silver Origin, carries only 100 passengers. I have been eager to go to the Galapagos ever since Ralph’s trip in 2019. This 7-day itinerary is the perfect opportunity to see some of the best that the Galapagos has to offer (hint: so. much. wildlife.).
There are a whopping 15 ports on this itinerary, meaning that guests are visiting two ports every day, one in the morning, and one after lunch. Silversea’s knowledgeable expedition team takes guests on excursions from diving to snorkeling to hiking, but for those who just want to watch the wildlife, there are plenty of opportunities to do that as well.
Not only does Silversea provide a great experience in the Galapagos, but the cruise experience is now more inclusive than ever. The company recently announced the inclusion of airfare and excursions in all of its cruise fares. This is in addition to an already inclusive product – with transfers, beverages, room service, wifi, butler service, gratuities, and more included with the purchase of every voyage.
Rates start at $10,710 per person.
Celebrity Cruises’ Canary Islands, Portugal, & Spain Itinerary
Though we have been looking at small ships for the first portion of this list, I know that I will be longing to get back on board a larger ship at some point next year. I can’t think of a better ship than Celebrity Cruises’ new ship, Celebrity Apex.
Apex is the sister ship of Celebrity Edge, which I had the privilege of sailing at the end of 2018 when the ship was first launched. Apex also has a special place in my heart because a preview sailing aboard the ship at the end of March 2020 was the first trip I had canceled due to COVID. This sailing was going to be one of the highlights of my year, as I would easily rank Celebrity Edge one of my favorite ships I’ve sailed on. The ship itself is innovative, with features such as an infinite veranda (a veranda that is inside the stateroom with a window that transforms the space into a balcony), a magic carpet (a floating platform that moves up and down the side of the ship), and so many creative entertainment options that you can read more about here.
This voyage departs from Fort Lauderdale, Florida, and sails to Barcelona, Spain over the course of 15 days. The fact that this voyage crosses the Atlantic means that there will be a lot of sea days; with eight days at sea they end up making up over half the voyage – but for me, that is part of the appeal. (As I mentioned, I would be very excited to sail aboard Apex.) Just because there are many days at sea doesn’t mean that there isn’t a lot to see on this sailing. The itinerary includes calls in the Canary Islands; Lisbon, Portugal; Seville, Spain; Malaga, Spain; Alicante, Spain; and Barcelona, Spain.
Silversea isn’t the only company that has announced that it will be more inclusive in 2021 – Celebrity recently announced its Always Included program. This means that from now on guests will have free wifi, gratuities, and a basic beverage package included in the cruise fare on all sailings excluding Galapagos cruises.
Rates start at $2,299 per person.
Virgin Voyages’ Mayan Sol Itinerary
Though I can’t speak to the experience on a Virgin Voyages’ sailing as its first ship hasn’t launched yet, what I can say is this: These voyages are going to be fun. Virgin Voyages was scheduled to launch at the beginning of 2020, but the launch was postponed due to the COVID-19 pandemic. The company recently announced that its first ship would launch May 9, 2021 – over a year after the initially scheduled launch. But as I said, these voyages are going to be fun, so let’s get into the fun stuff.
The five-night Mayan Sol itinerary sails roundtrip Miami and stops in Costa Maya and at The Beach Club At Bimini, Virgin Voyages’ private club. The Beach Club will feature a host of things to do, from quiet activities like yoga and meditation, to DJ-led pool parties and barbecues.
Though the itinerary seems great, what really stands out about this voyage is the ship. To put it simply, this ship seems cool. There are multiple dining venues, a casino, a nightclub, a selection of bars – but what is most unique to this ship is Squid Ink, the ships’ tattoo parlor. I was recently interviewed about adventure cruising and was asked about things that people would not believe could be done on a cruise ship. Getting a tattoo on board was certainly one of those things. Plus, since I heard about the tattoo parlor, it has been a bucket list item for me. So, that alone makes this itinerary a must-sail for me.
Rates start at $825 per person.
Windstar’s Jungles & Jewels Of The Central American Coast Voyage
What better way to round out the year than with a 10-day Windstar sailing roundtrip from Miami? This sailing will call in Key West, Florida; Costa Maya, Mexico; Santo Tomas De Castilla, Guatemala; Roatan, Honduras; Belize City, Belize; and will overnight in Cozumel, Mexico.
I will be hosting a sailing on this itinerary from December 9-19, 2021. The voyage will take place aboard Windstar’s Star Legend, which will complete renovation in March 2021 as part of the company’s “$250 Million Star Plus Initiative.” The renovation will introduce two dining venues, a spa, and an elevated pool and fitness area. The ship will also boast new bathrooms in every suite and a new Star Suites category featuring a new layout.
Learn more about the hosted voyage here.
Rates start at $3,059 per person.