The best no-fly ocean & river cruises for every budget

Not all holidays have to involve planes. There are plenty of destinations on our doorstep reachable by train or ferry, as we explored in this article. However, when you want to go further afield, flying is usually the easiest option. But what about a cruise?

No-fly ocean and river cruises for every budget © Kira Yan - Adobe Stock Image
No-fly ocean and river cruises for every budget © Kira Yan - Adobe Stock Image

With plenty of ports around the UK, from Liverpool to Southampton, no-fly cruises are an excellent option for those who don't want to take to the skies.

It's not all about the ocean, either. Using the Eurostar, Channel Tunnel or ferry links to mainland Europe also means river cruising is an option too. Hit the high seas or winding rivers of Europe with one of these top no-fly cruises for every budget.

5 excellent no-fly ocean cruises

Under £1,200: Norway

Norway has some of Europe's most spectacular scenery and while beauty might seem otherworldly at times, you don't have to fly there to see it - it's closer than you might think.

On this cruise with Marella*, you'll depart from Newcastle and enjoy a day at sea before reaching Olden in Norway - the gateway to the spectacular Briksdalsbreen Glacier.

As it cruises around some of the country's most spectacular fjords, there's an opportunity to visit thundering waterfalls, kayak among the mountains and explore quaint little seaside towns and villages in search of hot, homemade waffles.

Under £2,000: the Baltics

This fortnight-long voyage with Marella Cruises* departs from Southampton for a spectacular roll-call of destinations. Expect to visit the exciting city of Gothenburg, from which you can explore Sweden's stunning northern archipelago where hundreds of islands lie low in the waters, scattered with old fishing villages with seafood served fresh off the boats.

Church of the Saviour in St Petersburg, Russia, now a museum © Yulenochekk - Adobe Stock Image
Church of the Saviour in St Petersburg, Russia, now a museum © Yulenochekk - Adobe Stock Image

There are stops in Kiel, Germany, and Stockholm, Sweden, before the ship makes its way by Estonia, Russia and Finland before reaching Denmark and eventually Belgium. Explore medieval cities, modern metropolises and enjoy activities such as kayaking and or theatre trips.

Under £2,000: the Canary Islands

These far-flung Spanish islands are a gorgeous place for an escape when the weather's on a downward turn (expect temperatures in the mid-teens throughout much of winter), and getting there via cruise ship is a perfect no-fly option.

This Fred Olsen cruise* departs from Southampton, sailing four days straight to Madeira - the 'floating garden' of the Atlantic - before reaching the Canaries.

You'll get to disembark on the likes of La Palma, where there's excellent hiking and beautiful black, volcanic beaches, and Gran Canaria. The ship then cruises back to the UK via Arrecife and Cadiz in mainland Spain, and Lisbon in Portugal.

Under £3,000: Greenland

This is a cruise with a difference. Fred Olsen*'s Black Watch ship takes passengers on more of an expedition than a cruise, departing from Liverpool for the icy shores of Greenland.

It makes a quick overnight stop in Reykjavik, the Icelandic capital, before sailing onto the southern tip of Greenland where it cruises the Prins Christian Sund, a 66-mile waterway with glaciers, dramatic cliffs and prolific wildlife (you might even see blue whales).

Melting glacier in Prins Christian Sund, Greenland © Sascha - Adobe Stock Image
Melting glacier in Prins Christian Sund, Greenland © Sascha - Adobe Stock Image

Look out for small Inuit settlements on the shores, and don't miss spotting the bearded seals and plentiful seabirds that flit about the skies.

You'll dock in Nanortalik, a small island town where polar bears are known to live and hunt nearby and get to explore the magnificent glaciers of Narsarsuaq. For under £3,000 per person, this cruise delivers incredible experiences for a seriously reasonable price.

Under £5,000: South America

If you've got cash to spare and want that once-in-a-lifetime trip without the expensive airfare and long flight, this South America no-fly cruise is the one. Departing from Southampton, it's an epic 70-night sail taking in South America's best coastal areas.

There'll be stops in party-hard Rio de Janeiro, 'capital of happiness' Salvador and laidback Montevideo in Uruguay, as well as opportunities to visit the Falkland Islands (hello penguins) and the stunning Chilean fjords (don't forget to wave to the whales).

The cruise also takes in the Panama Canal, one of the world's most famous waterways and an engineering marvel, and the ship makes a few stops in the Caribbean before returning to the UK. There are very few ways to cover so much ground without hopping on a plane, so this cruise with Fred Olsen* is an opportunity of a lifetime.

3 excellent no-fly river cruises

Under £1,000: the Lower Rhine & Dutch tulip trail

Starting in Cologne, which is easily reached by Eurostar and local trains, this one is best booked in spring. The weather is far more palatable at this time of year, and in the Netherlands, the tulip fields begin to bloom around March and April too.

Tulips in Keukenhof Gardens, Amsterdam © EWA Studio - Adobe Stock Image
Tulips in Keukenhof Gardens, Amsterdam © EWA Studio - Adobe Stock Image

The cruise with Newmarket Holidays* takes in dynamic, buzzing Rotterdam and the country's oldest city, Nijmegen. But the highlight is Amsterdam and the included excursion of the Keukenhof Gardens, where thousands of tulips of all colours will brighten up your day.

Under £1,500: the Seine, France

An easy Eurostar ride from London, Paris in France is the show-stopping start to this dreamy cruise along the Seine with Newmarket Holidays*.

After a morning sail out of the capital, the ship reaches Les Andelys, where you can walk up to the imposing Chateau Gaillard for views of the gorgeous French countryside.

Other spectacular stops include Rouen, with its striking cathedral, and medieval Vernon, where half-timbered houses sit on the banks of the Seine. Exceptional French food and wines are served on board the riverboat, and there are add-on shore excursions for further exploration.

Under £1,600: the Dutch waterways & beyond

Tie a city break in Cologne into this cruise of the Dutch waterways from Newmarket Holidays*, which sets sail from the German port city. Sailing along the Rhine, the ship crosses the border into the Netherlands, cruises across the Markermeer canal and stops in Hoorn, the former HQ of the Dutch East India Company.

Sip local Belgian beers in gorgeous Ghent © Bas Bogaerts - Stad Gent Dienst Toerisme www.visitghent.be
Sip local Belgian beers in gorgeous Ghent © Bas Bogaerts - Stad Gent Dienst Toerisme www.visitghent.be

Next up is Amsterdam, the lively Dutch capital with its vast art museums and gorgeous network of canals, and then Ghent and Antwerp in Belgium.

The latter is the ultimate place to sample some brilliant Belgian beer, so order something at Elfde Gebod, an atmospheric, old-world style pub next door to the beautiful cathedral. The cruise ends in Nijmegen, which connects with Eurostar stations in Belgium via local rail.

Still looking for the perfect no-fly cruise? Check out even more offers and itineraries in our cruise deals section.

Lottie Gross

Lottie Gross
Posted on Wednesday 23rd October 2019 in: Caribbean Cruises Europe South America

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