The best cruises on the planet
We know that cruise travel is the ultimate in luxury, combining great food, facilities, fun and relaxation with the most beautiful destinations in the world. But what is the ultimate 'Bucket List' cruise holiday? Well, Cruisesalefinder.com.au has come up with its own top five. From traditional to the intrepid, island paradise to inhospitable wilderness, there is something for everyone in these itineraries. Be sure to let us know what you think.
Princess Alaska Cruisetour
An Alaska cruise is a jaw-dropping experience and Princess Cruises take it to the next level by combining land and sea for a Cruisetour. Alaska undoubtedly has a spectacular coastline, but you can't get a real taste for the splendour of this state without heading inland to the great wilderness.
There is a streamlined process from ship to shore, so you don't have to worry about missed connections. From the Denali Express train with wraparound glass domes to comfortable coaches on scenic highways, all transport is stress-free and affords incredible views of Alaska's mountains, rivers and valleys.
Five exclusive Princess lodges for Cruisetour guests are another luxury cruise bonus. At Kenai, bungalow-style rooms overlook Kenai River Valley. The Denali Lodge is in the incredible six-million acre Denali National Park and doubles as a perfect base for exploration. In Fairbanks, Princess has a riverside lodge from where guests can experience a little of urban Alaska. Take in the mountain views and a host of recreational activities at Mt. McKinley lodge, while just as spectacular is the Copper River site, where a two-storey wall of windows presents majestic river scenery.
On the water, you will call one of Princess's amazing ships home for a week, sailing past glaciers and into fjords, stopping off at charming coastal towns and keeping an eye out for whales, seals and other Alaskan wildlife.
Itineraries vary widely, but any Cruisetour with Princess is a guaranteed adventure. If you are making the trip to Alaska, don't just scratch the surface - go a little deeper for the ultimate journey to The Last Frontier!
Transatlantic Crossing by Cunard
Truly one for the ages, Cunard is the pioneer of traditional cruise travel. Maintaining its British heritage, there is a focus on the little luxuries of ocean life - afternoon tea, ballroom dancing, White Star Service (TM), enrichment programs and even a chocolate on your pillow each night. What better company to recreate the glamour of crossing the Atlantic, in the modern heyday of great ocean liners?
Despite Cunard's glittering history, it has one of the newest fleets at sea. Its three Queens (Queen Elizabeth, Queen Mary 2 and Queen Victoria) are beautiful ships, tastefully decorated and packed with well-appointed facilities to make your cruise comfortable and exciting. Customer care is a priority for Cunard and they are renowned for their White Star Service. Its base philosophy is to go above and beyond expectations. The range of activities is extensive, and traditional ocean liner pastimes such as formal dinners and dances, lectures and classes, shuffleboard and deck quoits add a certain bygone flair.
The route between Southampton and New York is a legendary journey in the cruise world. The seven-night trip eastbound or westbound trip takes place entirely onboard the ship, so it is not a good choice for those yearning to get off and explore. However, that's not what Cunard is about. The glorious Queen Mary 2 has 200 Transatlantic crossings under her belt and is destined for many more. If you love cruising, you will adore a Cunard cruise experience.
Galapagos Islands on Celebrity Xpedition
Celebrity's smallest vessel, the Xpedition, is more of a super-yacht than a cruise ship. With fewer than 100 guests, this is luxury cruising at an elite level, delivering personalised service as well as a breathtaking destination. The Galapagos Islands in the Pacific Ocean is an untouched archipelago blessed with abundant and varied wildlife. Nowhere else will you have the opportunity to get up close and personal with giant turtles, whale sharks, sea lions, iguanas and so much more.
Celebrity Xpedition calls the Galapagos Islands home, and it is purpose-built for this incredible environment. Although the true highlights of the cruise are onshore and in the water, the ship itself contributes to its bucket list status. Look forward to a gourmet restaurant, bar, hot-tub and gym, coupled with lectures, tour briefings and live music in the Discovery Lounge. Guests can also expect the Celebrity treatment with attentive staff and all-inclusive fares - so there's no pulling out your cruise card for a drink at the bar.
Of course shore excursions are a huge part of a Galapagos cruise and Celebrity have you more than covered. As the Xpedition cruises exclusively in the islands, staff are well-acquainted with the best activities and will recommend excursions based on interests and capability. On the menu are guided hikes, coastal explorations, wildlife viewings, snorkelling, diving and other exciting ways to spend a few hours. All excursions are included in the cruise fare.
The Galapagos is a one-of-a-kind destination and the Celebrity Xpedition is the perfect way to see it. Part luxury holiday and part intrepid journey, this is a voyage for the ages.
A World Cruise
What better way to see the world than by sailing the ocean blue? A number of cruise lines offer circumnavigations and extensive cruises visiting ports all across the globe, so you can see a lifetime's worth of sights in one epic trip. Generally lasting more than 100 days, these amazing journeys combine luxury with a global expedition, with not one plane journey in sight.
Now it's possible to depart on a world cruise directly from Australia and, for the first time, Auckland, New Zealand. Princess is offering round trip 104-day voyages from Sydney for those intrepid denizens of Down Under who want to see the world without having to unpack more than once. The round-the-world trip from Auckland departs on May 11, 2016, with maiden trips to the likes of Copenhagen, Stockholm and St Petersburg.
From Sydney, the cruise heads north to a few of Aussie's own tropical hotspots and the highlights of south-east Asia before passing through the Middle East and Suez Canal into the Mediterranean. Here, the beautiful historic ports come thick and fast. There are further stops in the British Isles, then across the Atlantic to New England and New York. After a jaunt in the Caribbean, a transit of the Panama Canal and a few South American visits, the ship heads back across the Pacific to Australia stopping in Pitcairn, Tahiti, Samoa and New Zealand.
There are many world cruises available and, although itineraries differ, they all provide a taste of the major continents. Along with Princess, check out around-the-world journeys offered by Cunard, Holland America and P&O UK.
Tahiti Adventures with Paul Gauguin
French Polynesia is a dream destination. Commonly known as Tahiti (the name of the biggest island in the group), it is a white sand and palm tree paradise. A regular spot for honeymooners, it takes the concept of a tropical holiday to another level.
Tahiti's highlights are endless. The green peaks of the islands and vivid blue lagoons are atmospheric to a degree that you will have to pinch yourself. Locals are friendly and life just goes at a slower pace. Bora Bora is picture-perfect, Papeete is inviting and unique, while the waters everywhere teem with fish, coral and other life.
Paul Gauguin Cruises is a luxury small ship cruise line, of which the MS Paul Gauguin is the flagship - it cruises exclusively in and around French Polynesia. She hosts 332 guests and is designed to navigate the shallow island waters to go places where larger cruise ships cannot.
The term luxury ship could have been based on MS Paul Gauguin. Admittedly its itineraries are pretty expensive, but they offer the trip of a lifetime with service and comfort going far beyond the standard cruise holiday. The ship itself is fitted with all-ocean-view accommodation, two gourmet restaurants, a poolside grill and Wi-Fi hotspots throughout. The real fun, however, lies outside the ship and the innovative Watersports Marina makes it easily accessible. This retractable facility offers kayaking, windsurfing, diving and snorkelling directly from the ship.
Personal service is paramount, with a crew to guest ratio of 1:1.5, so you can bet that key members will remember your name and preferences! Room service is available 24 hours a day, the in-suite mini bars are replenished daily, and all drinks, food and gratuities are included in your cruise fare. Without doubt an essential addition to anyone's cruise 'Bucket List'.
So, what's on your bucket list? What have we missed out and have you already enjoyed the cruise of a lifetime? Please get in touch in the comments section below.