Ship sail

10 small boat cruises to book now

Clipper ships are surprisingly fast (they can even reach 17 knots on a good day) and there are more amenities for Star Flyer’s 166 passengers (swimming pools, comfy beds, a talented chef) than there used to be. at the time of Captain Onedin. My seven days around the Northern Cyclades visited the Turkish coast and the Greek islands and traveled back in time to ancient Ephesus, with the Venetian fortresses, the pirates’ lair of Barbarossa, the market where Saint Paul escaped from little to a lynching, the cave where Saint John wrote the Book of Revelation along the way. Back on the ship, islands pass by, silhouettes drift away as ropes creak and wind shakes sails – surely, the most romantic way to travel.

Star Clippers (0845 200 6145; starclippers.com) offers a seven-night return trip from Athens from £2,199 pp, including return flights from London and transfers. Departures on October 8, 2022 and June 10, 2023

Fiji

Blue Lagoon Cruises has been an institution in Fiji since 1950, specializing in intimate cruises (only 34 cabins) and visiting some of the most beautiful of the country’s 300 islands. Among these, the Yasawas are undoubtedly
the most exquisite and remote, with dazzling coral reefs and picture-perfect white sand beaches. Migrating whales pass by and sea turtles swim in the lagoons. If you yearn for a Robinson Crusoe moment, there are plenty of uninhabited desert islands.

When you’re not snorkeling, excursions are extremely local – such as a visit to a village chief with the traditional gift of yaqona, also known as kava, the powdered root of a pepper plant, and the drink National of Fiji. Mixed with water in a wooden bowl, an elaborate ceremony ensues (not to mention numbing of the tongue and lips – kava is a mild narcotic). On the last day, there is a lovo on Yasawa Island of Blue Lagoon, Nanuya Lailai. It is a kind of underground barbecue where food is wrapped in pandanus leaves and cooked on volcanic stones covered with sand. It takes hours, but while you wait there’s time to swim, snorkel, lounge in a hammock, or stroll to another perfect white-sand beach.

Blue Lagoon Cruises (00 679 999 5512; bluelagooncruises.com) offers seven-night cruises to the Yasawas, departing every Monday from December 2022 to March 2023, from £1,519 (flights not included). There is a 25% discount for bookings made more than six months in advance

Patagonia

If you want a cruise getaway, it doesn’t get much emptier than Patagonia. During my entire time aboard the Stella Australis, I saw only one other ship – and that was off Cape Horn, heading for Antarctica. Chilean Tierra del Fuego is uninhabited and its straits and fjords are a protected area. To ensure that they maintain their original state, only passengers from Chilean ships are allowed to disembark. So, apart from your fellow travelers (who are only about 200), you won’t see anyone.

But you will see some of the most extraordinary sights the world has to offer – mountains and glaciers, whales and dolphins, colonies of penguins and the lone wandering albatross soaring on the world’s most massive wings of birds. The air is pure, the silence is palpable and the light has such clarity that you experience real life in high definition. It is such a pristine region that it has been declared a World Biosphere Reserve by UNESCO.

Cruceros Australis (00 34 9349 70484; australis.com) offers four-day cruises (flights not included) from £1,927 pp, sailing between Punta Arenas, Chile, and Ushuaia, Argentina. Departure on October 3, 11, 19 and 23

Croatia

For its island-hopping cruise in Dalmatia, Noble Caledonia chartered the Croatian ship Queen Eleganza – one of the smallest cruise ships in the world, with just 36 guests looked after by a competent Croatian crew (particularly useful for local tips when you go ashore). The Italian Adriatic coast is well known but the Croatian Adriatic is just as beautiful and much less visited. This itinerary includes the Lastovo archipelago, one of the most remote nature parks in Croatia; the charming islands of Vis, Hvar and Korcula; Ilovik, known as “the island of flowers”, and the picturesque Rab. There are tours of historic villages and towns, great local cuisine and plenty of opportunities to swim from the ship in secluded bays.

Noble Caledonia (020 7752 0000; noble-caledonia.co.uk) is offering the nine-night Island Hopping Dalmatia cruise from £2,995 pp, including economy flights. Departing on October 2, 2022, May 14 and June 7, 2023


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