Cruise

5 of the best small-ship cruises for 2021/22

From Japan to the Red Sea, the ocean’s your oyster, says Laura French

Crystal Endeavour: Japan
Crystal Cruises’ first expedition yacht has several impressive features – all-suite accommodation, butler service, fine dining and the only casino on an expedition yacht, plus plenty of space with capacity capped at 200. Itineraries span Europe, Canada and Latin America, as well as the poles, while those after a cultural jaunt will find plenty to please on its Japan itineraries. Highlights include a 14-night sailing from Osaka to Otaru, taking in Mikimoto Pearl Island, Mount Fuji, Tokyo and Hokkaido before moving on to Russia.

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Seabourn Venture: Norway
If the charms of Norway’s fjord-studded landscapes aren’t enough to tempt cruisers back to the seas, Seabourn’s new ship surely will be. Seabourn Venture boasts spacious veranda suites, two submarines and interiors designed by Adam D Tihany. It’s set to sail its inaugural itinerary from Greenwich to Tromso in December 2021. Activities on the Norway cruises include dog-sledding, snowshoeing, kayaking, overnight winter camps and snorkelling with killer whales. From May 2022, polar bear sightings in Svalbard will be added to the mix.

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Emerald Azzurra: Red Sea
Emerald Waterways is branching into the world of ocean adventures in 2021 with Azzurra, the first vessel in its new Emerald Yacht Cruises portfolio. The 100-passenger ship will feature three bars and restaurants, a wellness centre and an infinity-style pool. It will sail in the Adriatic, the Mediterranean and beyond. For a culture-rich voyage on the doorstep of Middle East clients, there’s the Best of the Red Sea itinerary, which starts in Aqaba and takes in Hurghada, Safaga, Sharm el Sheikh and Eilat, with white-sand beaches and centuries-old bazaars along the way.

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Silver Dawn: Barcelona to Lisbon
Silversea Cruises’ 10th ship is due to join the fleet next September with nine suite categories and eight dining options, including the Sea and Land Taste programme of cooking demos. Sailings include South America itineraries and transatlantic crossings, but for those after a shorter hop, suggest the 10-day Barcelona to Lisbon voyage, which takes in Majorca, Valencia, Cartagena and Cadiz plus Casablanca and Tangier in Morocco.

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Le Commandant Charcot: Antarctica
There’s been a string of new polar ships in recent years, but for one of the most exciting, look to Ponant’s hybrid electric-LNG vessel, due to start sailing next spring with 135 cabins and suites, a spa, two pools and impressive eco-credentials. Standout itineraries include a 25-day Ross Sea voyage that goes as close as it’s possible to go to the South Pole, and the 11-night Weddell Sea & Larsen Ice Shelf trip that takes in one of the world’s most impressive ice sheets, with hot-air balloon rides, snowmobiling and hovercraft trips among the adventures.

 

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