Cruise routes that you should know about

Enjoy one of the world’s last great unspoilt wildernesses with a cruise through Alaska, a land of eye-popping beauty and a thrilling array of animal and marine life. Imagine aqua-coloured, mile-high glaciers, soaring mountain peaks, rainforest-blanketed coastlines, and frontier towns little changed from the days of the gold rush. Look out for grizzlies and brown bears gorging on salmon, majestic bald eagles, the distinctive fluke of a humpback whale, seals and sea lions lazing on icebergs, frolicking dolphins, impressive orcas and more. Shore excursions in Alaska include wildlife viewing tours as well as the chance to appreciate the scenery from all angles: choose from helicopter trips and sea kayaking to glacier trekking and mountain biking.

Best time to go: Between May and September.
Ships to Alaska: Princess Cruises, Norwegian Cruise Lines, Silversea Cruises, Regent Seven Sea Cruises, Royal Caribbean International.
Alternatives: Antarctica, Galapagos.

Thanks to the geography of the region, many small islands can be crammed into a week-long cruise, making it a great choice if you’re time poor. Cruises tend to start from one of the islands, or from US ports in Florida or Texas. Eastern Caribbean cruises typically include Antigua, Barbados, Dominica, Martinique, Puerto Rico, St Croix, St Kitts, St Maarten, St Lucia and St Thomas; western Caribbean itineraries take in the Cayman Islands, Jamaica, and Mexico while southern Caribbean cruises call at Barbados, Trinidad and Tobago, Tortola and the ABC islands.

Best time to go: November and May.
Ships to the Caribbean: Cunard, Fred Olsen, P&O, Costa Cruises, MSC Cruises, Holland America Line, Silversea Cruises.
Alternatives: Australia, Fiji and Pacific

If you’re a cruise virgin, don’t be too ambitious; choose a week’s western Med cruise to earn your sea legs. Crammed with a medley of arts, culture, historical gems, beaches, cafes, shops, not forgetting mouth-watering food and wine, you’ll visit some of Europe’s most breathtaking cities such as Rome, Florence, Portofino (Italy); Barcelona, Alicante, Cadiz, Palma (Spain); Monte Carlo, Cannes, St Tropez(France); Lisbon, Portimao (Portugal), sometimes even sailing as far south as exotic Casablanca (Morocco). With a blend of large and medium sized ships, there is something to suit all budgets but bear in mind the former are likely to offer a more diverse blend of shore excursions.

Best time to go: All year around, but avoid the summer if you don’t like crowds and high temperatures.
Ships to the Med: Carnival, Costa Cruises, Holland America, Princess, Silversea and Windstar.
Alternatives: Baltic, or river cruises such as the Nile, Danube or Rhine