The best cruise experiences

Andy Stevens / 21 October 2016 ( 03 May 2019 )

Thinking about a cruise but not sure where to go?Instead of trying to choose a destination, perhaps think about the experience you want to have instead - this list might help you make up your mind!

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.

Delight at Gaudi’s unique architecture and art in Barcelona

Shocking, stunning, unusual, amusing, intriguing, colourful, different… all these words could describe your reaction when you first encounter Antoni Gaudi’s unique architecture in Barcelona.

From the multi-coloured mosaic lizard (known as El Drac, the dragon) that greets you at park Güell, to the absolute must-see and still unfinished Sagrada Familia basilica, Gaudi’s outstanding and distinctive work can be seen all around the city.

Inspired by nature, Gaudi gave curved and twisted shapes to stone and metal, making it striking, iconic, and absolutely unmissable.

Visit Casa Batlló, Parc Güell and the as yet incomplete La Sagrada Familia and much more on an ocean cruise that visits Barcelona...

EXCITING NEWS: our brand new ship, Spirit of Discovery, will be arriving in July - find out more about the boutique cruising experience

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.

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.

Set sail on a wonderful river cruise through the Belgian and Dutch waterways. Find out more here

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. 

During the summer, the northern hemisphere is tilted towards the sun. This results in near-continuous daylight for much of the Arctic Circle, often up to 20 hours a day. Sailing around this region from May to September allows you to take in the ice-laden landscapes and remote islands in their full glory, coloured by summer blooms and verdant foliage. Then in the evenings as you set sail for your next port of call you can relax on deck, enjoying the mysterious experience of a twilight that lingers long into the early hours.

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.

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.

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. 

Tempted by an ocean cruise around the Canary Islands? Find out more here

EXCITING NEWS: our brand new ship, Spirit of Discovery, will be arriving in July - find out more about the boutique cruising experience

Set sail for a fjordland boat adventure

Crystal clear lakes, snow-capped mountains, sparkling waterfalls and majestic fjords… The landscapes of Norway are some of the most beautiful in the world, so it’s no wonder when they appear at the top of most people's 'must-cruise' list.

And how else could you appreciate their sheer beauty and grand scale than by ship? Gliding across the mirrored waters is simply the perfect way to take in the scenery form the best vantage point, before stopping at the quaint fishing towns and charming cities for sightseeing ashore.

Take in the popular Norwegian port of Bergen, plus the pretty villages of Olden and Flåm, and sail 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. 

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

Tempted by an ocean cruise to Norway and Scandinavia? Find out more here

EXCITING NEWS: our brand new ship, Spirit of Discovery, will be arriving in July - find out more about the boutique cruising experience

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.

White-sand beaches, lush landscapes, blue seas, a tropical climate and a unique culture… no wonder the Caribbean is a cruise lover's dream! What could be better than calling at one paradise island after another, experiencing the local food, exotic wildlife and friendly smiles of the islanders in this wonderful part of the world.

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

Take some time out in the Caribbean on an ocean cruise with Saga.  Find out more here

EXCITING NEWS: our brand new ship, Spirit of Discovery, will be arriving in July - find out more about the boutique cruising experience

Discover Russia's stunning St Petersburg

Tucked high up in the crook of the Baltic is the Venice of the North, a vast open-air museum, a city of palaces and cathedrals, of broad avenues and winding canals.

Visit the legendary Hermitage Museum after closing hours, enjoy a night at the ballet, or marvel at the 150 fountains in the Peterhof Palace Park.

In the summer there’s the added bonus of the White Nights, when the sun hardly sets. 

Tempted by an ocean cruise around the beautiful Canaries as the weather gets colder at home? Find out more here

EXCITING NEWS: our brand new ship, Spirit of Discovery, will be arriving in July - find out more about the boutique cruising experience

Fall for the autumnal colours of Canada’s Atlantic Coast

Autumn shakes the leaves off the tress along the Canadian coast into an annual ‘fall’, dusting the landscape with shades of russet, reds and browns.

It’s a truly spectacular sight, and the best time of year to appreciate the east coast’s picture-postcard scenes of old lighthouses, clapboard houses, wild scenery, all clinging to a beautiful rocky and rugged coastline.

Be enchanted by the charms of romantic Venice

A panorama of bridge and dome, bell towers and quaysides, colourful façades reflected in the waters of the Grand Canal – few sights are as iconic. Venice’s architecture hints at the great wealth and power it had in the Middle Ages, when it was an independent province.

Despite the riding tide of tourists and water, Venice remains one of Europe’s most enchanting cities, where the piazza and narrow palazzi seem to grow ever more beautiful with age.  Strolling around St Mark’s Square, perhaps indulging in a gondola ride and pausing for thought at the Bridge of Sighs, are all part of the experience.

Stay overnight in the port of Venice and experience everything it has to offer on a cruise with Saga. Find out more here

EXCITING NEWS: our brand new ship, Spirit of Discovery, will be arriving in July - find out more about the boutique cruising experience

Spoil your senses cruising the unspoilt Azores

Nine islands in the Atlantic Ocean have been blessed by Mother Nature with a rich diversity. Feel the force of nature on São Miguel with the extinct volcano, geysers and hot thermal waters.  Admire the cool blue hydrangeas on Faial, a perfect contrast to the lunar landscape of the extinct Capelinhos volcano with vineyards planted in black lava fields.  Terceira is green and fertile, with tea and oranges jostling for growing space. The Azores are a whole new world of discovery.

Admire the fascinating landscapes of three beautiful islands on an ocean cruise to the Portuguese Azores

EXCITING NEWS: our brand new ship, Spirit of Discovery, will be arriving in July - find out more about the boutique cruising experience

Seek out the Northern Lights

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

>Seeing the Northern Lights topped the travel wish list in a recent survey, and ranks sixth with our customers. Nature’s most elusive light show, the aurora borealis, appears in the night skies without fanfare, curling In the sky, displaying swirls of the brightest green with tinges of purple that spill over and up towards the stars.

>There are up to 200 displays or the aurora borealis a year, each lasting from just minutes to several hours.  Sightings cannot be guaranteed but our cruises take you to the best spot at the peak time of year – with an included excursion out onto the tundra, where you are even more likely to witness this incredible light show.  The sight will etch itself In your memory, indelibly.

Set sail on a magical voyage to the Northern Lights. Find out more here

EXCITING NEWS: our brand new ship, Spirit of Discovery, will be arriving in July - find out more about the boutique cruising experience

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.

The opportunity to watch humpback whales breach high out of the water, and perhaps perform a twirl in the air, is not to be missed! 

Sail away with Saga and ORCA to experience our world's stunning marine life on an ocean cruise. Find out more here

EXCITING NEWS: our brand new ship, Spirit of Discovery, will be arriving in July - find out more about the boutique cruising experience

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.