Top 10 cruise experiences 2017

Andy Stevens / 21 October 2016 ( 13 February 2017 )

Thinking about a cruise next year but not sure where to go? Read our top cruise experiences for 2017, selected by our travel experts.



Be inspired by Saga's small-ship cruise experiences! Find out more here.

10. Sail along Spanish waterways to Seville

What can beat a cruise on the Med as the perfect way to soak up the last rays of the Mediterranean's late summer sun? And where better to experience this than on a leisurely voyage of exploration around a host of the historic ports and cities of Spain? 

There's Spain's third city, Valencia, the spiritual home of paella, stunning Moorish architectural influences, fine museums and the celebratory scene of one of the country's greatest festivals, Las Fallas, which each March turns into a huge week-long party with fireworks and bonfires every night. 

Then there's Malaga, the big city gateway to the Costa Del Sol, which holds many of its own fascinations, including an historic food market, grand cathedral and a captivating museum dedicated to one of its favourite sons, the great artist Pablo Picasso. 

But Malaga is also the entry point to many enchanting Andalusian villages, towns and cities, while the attractive nearby Penibeetica mountain range with its olive and almond groves provides a gentle sheltered backdrop to the city.

On the banks of the Guadalquivir River, Seville was once the cultural epicentre of the kingdom of the Moors, and is feted for its flamenco and gypsy culture, incredible tapas...and not forgetting those famous oranges!

Seville's historical sites are in a league of their own. Visit the magnificent Gothic cathedral which stands on the site of an 11th century mosque. 

There are treasures to uncover on a walk through the picturesque whitewashed alleyways of the Jewish Quarter. But no trip to Seville is complete without paying homage to the Alcazar, the ornate royal palace which is also a Unesco World Heritage Site.

Sail along Spanish waterways with Saga on a Spanish Sojourn cruise.

9. Watch the iconic Edinburgh Tattoo

Scotland's magnificent capital city is always a fabulous place to visit. But no more so than in the summer months, when it is abuzz with all the activities of the world-famous Edinburgh Festival, the biggest arts festival in the world.

Make a point of timing your visit, however, to coincide with the majesty of the Royal Edinburgh Military Tattoo, that most spectacular of military events combining pomp and ceremony. 

While you're in the city, the Queen’s Edinburgh residence, Holyrood Palace, along with elegant Princes Street and a host of other fascinating places including the 12th century St Margaret's Chapel in the grounds of Edinburgh Castle are other must-sees.

Experience the spectacular Royal Military Tattoo on a Highland Fling cruise. 

8. See Amsterdam on a canal cruise

The Netherlands are so near so us and so easy to get to - and always well worth crossing the Channel for summertime mini-break cruise and a spot of exploring.

The attractions of the great city of Amsterdam are many and varied, but can also be enjoyed a leisurely pace while embracing that authentic, continental alfresco cafe vibe.

Amsterdam is home to not just the famous canals but some of the world's greatest - and unmissable - museums and art galleries, notably The Van Gogh Museum and the Rijksmuseum. 

When in Amsterdam, of course, you should take a tour of the city's canals in a glass-topped boat, to get a flavour from a watery vantage point of the ancient commercial life of the city, through its patchwork of canal-side houses which once served as stores and workshops.

Cruise across the channel and discover the charm of the Amsterdam canals on a Bank Holiday escape. 

7. Experience the glow of the Midnight Sun

When you take an Arctic adventure to Norway's remote North Cape you'll discover a wilderness bathed in the ethereal glow of the midnight sun. 

Don't miss the chance to witness first hand the wonders of Norway's Viking heritage, including the Lofotr Viking Museum in Borg, where archaeologists have made the internationally-important discovery of a chieftain's farmstead, proving that the Lofoten Islands were once a major Viking stronghold.

Cruising along some of the world's best-loved fjords, including the beautiful Geirangerfjord, and through the island-scattered Inner Passage are an integral part of the Norway experience. 

And a boat trip to Pulpit Rock in south-west Norway should definitely be on your excursion wish-list. 

Towering more than 1,900 feet above the beautiful ribbon-like waterway of Lysefjord, this much-photographed mountain plateau has a stark tabletop shape in contrast with the lush green slopes and mountainsides that surround it.

Experience the glow of the Midnight Sun on a North Cape Adventure cruise. 

6. Go volcano hiking in the Canaries

The Canary Islands are terrific to explore at the quiet end of autumn, when you can best enjoy the varied volcanic scenery which dots the island chain.

There's the beautiful island of La Palma with its lush forests of pine, laurel and fern, which contrasts with the rugged splendour of the gigantic Taburiente crater.

Tenerife's beauty and scenery are always a joy to return to, as are her year-round sunshine climate and the brooding presence of Mount Teide. 

The mountain range cuts through the middle of the island, with fertile valleys on the northern side. In the central part of the range is the gigantic natural crater of the Cañadas del Teide, about 14 miles in diameter.

Gran Canaria is pretty much a circular island, with the peak of Pozo de Las Nieves, its highest point, at the centre. 

And on volcanic Lanzarote there are the dazzling white salt flats of Janubio, the rugged Fire Mountain and the eerie caves of Los Verdes, offering the sort of sights and challenges that only the natural world can muster. 

Go volcano hiking in the Canaries on an Autumn in the Canaries cruise. 

5. Set sail for a fjordland boat adventure

Take in the popular Norwegian port of Bergen, plus the pretty villages of Olden and Flåm, at a time of year before the region opens its doors to the flurry of yearly tourists, giving you the perfect chance to enjoy days of exploring without the crowds. 

Your cruise will take you right into the heart of the fjordlands, revealing picture-postcard views of lakes, glaciers, waterfalls and mountains.

Surrounded by mountains and sparkling fjords, the waterside city of Bergen has been a great trading hub since medieval times. Its fish market and evocative cobbled streets, in a city topped off with stunning views of Mount Floyen, are a particular delight.

The village of Olden at the end of the beautiful Nordfjord is the perfect place from which to explore the area's awesome natural wonders. 

Flam village is in the heart of western Norway, at the innermost part of Aurlandsfjord, and is a great gateway for exploring the famed Sognefjord, often cited as the most beautiful fjord in Norway. 

And Flam is a proper picture postcard in itself: surrounded by stunning meadows, orchards and imposing mountains.

Spend springtime in the beautiful cruise onboard Saga Sapphire.

4. See the colourful sealife of the Caribbean

White-sand beaches, lush landscapes, blue seas, a tropical climate and a unique culture… no wonder the Caribbean remains a dream destination for cruise lovers.

We recommend you set aside a month-long cruise to lap up the glorious Caribbean sunshine, exploring hidden gems such as Nevis and Grenada and visiting the colourful capitals of those popular islands of Barbados, St Maarten and Tortola, plus lesser-known ports such as Virgin Gorda and Port Antonio.

Overnight stays in Cuba and Barbados are a must for any Caribbean cruise. Here, you'll be able to compare for yourself the lively atmosphere of magical Havana with the laid-back ambience of Bridgetown. 

Recharge your batteries, too, with relaxing days at sea, when you need do nothing more strenuous than sit back and enjoy the unbroken sunshine.

See the colourful sealife of the Caribbean on a Grand Caribbean Adventure.  

3. Enjoy a private out of hours tour around the Hermitage

See the best of the Baltic as you skirt the attractive coastline of this historic region in the spring, at that perfect time when the crowds start to tail away - and get an included out-of-hours tour of the famous Hermitage museum - a once in lifetime opportunity. 

Visit the grand capitals of Sweden, Finland and Latvia and enjoy an overnight mooring in opulent St Petersburg, before venturing to admire the fairy-tale towers and turrets of enchanting Tallinn, capital of Estonia.

And while you're on your cruise, find out more about the Baltic's incomparable seafaring past, plus the region's pivotal maritime trading role within the medieval Hanseatic League commercial and defence confederation, with a day in the absorbing and lesser-visited German city of Rostock.

A cruise around the Baltic also shines a light on aspects of the region's incomparable culture and heritage during visits to some of its grandest cities. 

Make sure you make the most of any trip by exploring island-laced Stockholm and St Petersburg with overnight stays in each, as well as visits to the lesser-known gems of Bornholm Island and medieval Wismar.

Stay overnight in Stockholm and St Petersburg on Saga's 'White nights of the Baltic' cruise Find out more here.

2. Seek out the Northern Lights

Set your sights on Norway's night-time sky on a voyage to the spellbinding Northern Lights.

In your quest to see the fabled lights, make a restful overnight stop in Alta, known as the ‘Town of the Northern Lights’. From here, you can take an excursion to give you the very best chance of spotting the spellbinding aurora borealis. 

Be sure to soak up the atmosphere of the bustling fishing town of Kålvag. And if you're feeling particularly energetic, take an exhilarating dog sled ride followed by a night beneath the Arctic sky in a cosy sleeping pod, for another chance to look out for the Northern Lights. 

In need of still more adventure? Then we suggest beginners' skiing lessons in Narvik, and a boat safari on which you can take photos of majestic white-tailed eagles.

Go glamping in Norway on a search for the Northern Lights. 

1. Spot whales and dolphins in their natural habitat

Time it right, and a cruise around the Westfjords region of magical Iceland is simply one of the greatest places on earth to witness a huge range of wildlife in its natural habitat. 

Westfjords is separated from the mainland by an isthmus six miles across. And this unforgivingly harsh environment is home to unforgettable wildlife including arctic foxes, seals, whales and vast colonies of seabirds. 

From Akureyri, at the tip of Iceland's longest fjord, Eyjafjörour, humpback whales can be spotted on a regular basis, while a boat trip from Leknes, in Norway's remote Lofoten Islands, will treat you to sightings of sea eagles on the wing. 

And if your luck is in, Iceland's Faxafloi Bay will reward you with unmissable sights of blue fin, humpback, minke and sei whales.

Spot whales and dolphins i their natural habitat on Saga's Summertime in the fjords cruise. 

Saga offer a range of cruises around the globe, where you can discover your favourite experiences. Find out more here

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The opinions expressed are those of the author and are not held by Saga unless specifically stated.

The material is for general information only and does not constitute investment, tax, legal, medical or other form of advice. You should not rely on this information to make (or refrain from making) any decisions. Always obtain independent, professional advice for your own particular situation.