French luxury expedition cruise line Ponant has rolled out an extensive range of European voyages for 2016. There are 41 in all, ranging from seven to 12 nights in length, many taking in the continent's World Heritage sites, ancient cultures, architecture, history and music. Destinations include Spain, Malta, Greece, Croatia, Montenegro, Turkey, Italy, Scandinavia and Russia, with ships often venturing off main routes to explore smaller, less-visited ports in destinations such as Corsica, Ireland and Estonia. But the big highlights are there, too, with visits to St Petersburg, Valletta and Dubrovnik.
Phone 1300 737 178. See ponant.com.
Cunard has announced a major refurbishment for Queen Mary 2 in 2016. The ship will undergo an extensive dry-dock refurbishment in June. Among the changes will be 15 new single staterooms catering for those travelling solo or in multigenerational groups, and 30 additional Britannia Club balcony staterooms, whose guests can dine at a time of their own choosing in the dedicated Britannia Club restaurant. The ship is also creating new accommodation for dogs and cats; the cruise liner is already unique in offering dedicated kennels on transatlantic crossings.
Phone 13 24 41. See cunard.com.
APT has rolled out its journeys in France for 2016, and there's plenty that's new and interesting, including five itineraries from its debut in the Bordeaux region and new combinations that link it to other cruises on the Seine and Rhone rivers or Spanish land journeys. Also new for 2016 is the 21-day "Charms of Southern France" from Paris to Monte Carlo, offering a more in-depth cruise of the Rhone and Saone rivers, which take in the Burgundy and Beaujolais wine regions, as well as Provence further south.
Phone 1300 196 420. See aptouring.com.au.
Star Clippers has a new Mediterranean program for 2016, and among its highlights is an inaugural visit of Royal Clipper to the eastern Mediterranean. In September 2016, the largest square rigger in the world will visit the Greek islands and Turkey for the first time on seven-night sailings from Athens to Istanbul (or the reverse). The itinerary includes visits to Istanbul, Myrina, Skiathos, Skopelos, Poros and Piraeus. Royal Clipper will also offer new seven-night itineraries from Rome to Athens (or vice versa), exploring the coastline of Italy, Sicily and Greece.
Phone 1300 295 161. See starclippers.com.
Making a splash
SeaDream Yacht Club is heading to the Caribbean's southern islands between January and April 2016 on three round-trip sailings from Bridgetown in Barbados, and nine between Bridgetown and St Martin. The 112-passenger motor-cruiser SeaDream I will also visit St Vincent, the Grenadines, Martinique, Guadeloupe, Nevis, St Barts, Isle de Saints, St Lucia and, on some sailings, the tiny private island of Mustique. SeaDream's "Champagne and Caviar Splash" might be a highlight, with passengers guests wading into Caribbean waters to enjoy champagne off a linen-draped surfboard, followed by a beach barbecue, swimming and snorkelling.
Phone 02 9958 4444. See seadream.com.