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.
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).
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.
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.
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).