Sailing from the UK
Setting sail from Southampton
Southampton is the UK's leading port. Bustling modern cruise terminals, as well as wharfs and commercial harbours, line the waterfront, whilst the city itself is a fascinating mix of ancient and modern, with a picturesque old town, the original city walls still standing, and super-modern shopping centres and office complexes. On all corners you will see tributes to the city's rich history and maritime heritage. Henry V marched his troops through the Westgate on his way to the battle of Agincourt, The Mayflower sailed from here with a cargo of settlers to the New World, and the Titanic started her fateful voyage here.
Get a copy of the Old Town Walk map from the tourist information centre, a perfect (and free!) way to explore Southampton at a leisurely pace.
Funchal, Madeira’s bustling capital, tumbles down a dramatic hillside towards a beautiful sweeping bay. Highlights include colourful markets, wine lodges and the spectacular cable car ride up to the village of Monte, home of the famous toboggan run.
There’s more to Barbados than just beaches; the delightful colonial architecture of the old garrison in Bridgetown, the capital, is fully deserving of its UNESCO World Heritage status, and the island interior is littered with old sugar plantations and natural wonders such as Harrison’s Cave.
Bonaire, Sint Eustatius and Saba: Kralendijk (Bonaire)
The quiet, cactus-covered Dutch Caribbean island of Bonaire is internationally renowned for its diving, ringed by spectacular coral reefs that teem with life. The capital, Kralendijk, is home to some pretty colonial architecture, and the island is also known for its flamingos and pink sand beaches.
Cartagena was founded by Spanish conquistadors in 1533, and the beautifully preserved centre is a real highlight of Colombia’s Caribbean coast. The walled old town, the Ciudad Amurallada, is a camera-friendly collection of cobbled streets and colourful, colonial-era buildings.
Situated at the Atlantic entrance to the Panama Canal, Colón is not somewhere you will want to hang around for long, and serves merely as a gateway to the Canal, which will carry you to much nicer places.
El Salvador: Acajutla
Mexico: Puerto Vallarta
The resort town of Puerto Vallarta, on Mexico’s Pacific coast, has bags of charm in spite of its popularity. Spend some time exploring the pretty old town, with its cobbled streets and quirky boutiques, or relax on the beach. Humpback whales breed out in the bay during the winter months, and dolphins can be spotted year round.
Mazatlán is one of the most popular beach resorts on the Pacific coast of Mexico, and tourists tend to congregate in the Zona Dorada, where the majority of the hotels are concentrated. The old town is much more interesting, however, with elegantly faded colonial architecture and a vibrant cultural scene.
Mexico: Cabo San Lucas
The sister towns of Cabo San Lucas and San José del Cabo sit at the tip of Mexico’s Baja California peninsula. The towns themselves are mostly given over to luxury hotels and boisterous nightlife, but the surrounding landscape is characterised by arid arroyos, bristly cacti and rocky coastal outcrops.
United States: San Francisco
Renowned for its food, its misty mornings and its vertiginous streets, cosmopolitan San Francisco is quite unlike any other American city. Highlights include the iconic Golden Gate Bridge, the delightful waterfront and the bohemian quarter of Haight Ashbury.
United States: Los Angeles
Los Angeles is an energetic, creative place with cultural riches to match any world city, home to Hollywood glamour, the iconic beaches of Venice and Santa Monica, and affluent, image-conscious Beverley Hills.
United States: San Diego
Laid-back, friendly and blessed with near-perfect weather all year round, San Diego is one of America’s most likeable cities. Enjoy a stroll through Balboa Park, dotted with beautiful Spanish Renaissance-style architecture, take a whale watching trip along the coast, or sample the nightlife of the trendy Gaslamp Quarter.
It’s true that Acapulco has suffered from overdevelopment, and has lost some of its lustre since its heyday as a magnet for Hollywood stars. But it’s still a buzzing party town, and even the forest of high rise hotels can’t spoil the setting, a beautiful bay where the Sierra Madre mountains meet the Pacific Ocean.
Costa Rica: Puntarenas
Situated on a peculiarly shaped peninsula on the Gulf of Nicoya, Puntarenas is a popular weekend beach destination for residents of Costa Rica’s capital, San José. The port itself is not pretty, but the beachfront Paseo de los Turistas is a nice place to relax with a drink or enjoy a seafood lunch.
The tiny Dutch Caribbean island of Aruba, located just off the coast of Venezuela, lies outside of the hurricane belt, meaning it enjoys a largely dry climate, and boasts some of the best beaches in the region, if not the world.
Sint Maarten: Philipsburg
Philipsburg is the gateway to an intriguing little Caribbean island with a dual personality: the Dutch side, St. Maarten, is the livelier of the two, with shopping malls, casinos and more of a nightlife scene, while French-speaking St. Martin is a more refined (and more expensive) affair, with a laid-back, continental air and a host of exclusive resorts and restaurants.
Portugal: Ponta Delgada (Azores)
Ponta Delgada is the capital of São Miguel, the largest and most populous island of the Azores. Founded in the 15th century, the city is home to elegant architecture and some excellent restaurants, though the main attraction is the tranquility and natural beauty of the surrounding countryside.
Spain: La Coruña
La Coruña is the largest city in Galicia, a beautiful region of lush green countryside and wild, windswept beaches. Historical sights of note include the Tower of Hercules, a UNESCO-listed Roman lighthouse, and the city is also home to some great seafood restaurants.
Arriving in Southampton
Just a short drive from Southampton is the magical New Forest with its quaint hamlets, historic towns and seaside villages. Look out for the ponies too.
Your home from home
Balmoral is a cosy, intimate ship offering traditional British style cruising and personal, warm and friendly atmosphere.
What we love
Fred. Olsen offer a huge variety of sailings, many of which are excellent no fly cruise itineraries departing from a number of different regional UK ports. This comfortable ship has a British style with inviting public areas.
|Crew||470 International Staff|
|Style||Traditional British cruising with an informal, friendly and unpretentious atmosphere.|
Tailor-make your trip
Overnight in Southampton
Stay at the Pig in the Wall, stylish with great food. Very small so book early.
Day trips from Southampton
Visit historic Winchester, home to King Arthur’s Round Table, the Great Hall and Winchester Cathedral.