Few of the destinations named would have been on a 'must visit' list for most travellers, but on closer examination they offer dramatic coastlines, extraordinary wildlife, fascinating cultures and engrossing histories. The remoteness of many may pose a challenge in reaching them, but it also demonstrates the remarkable breadth of destinations available when cruising...
The stand out is Iceland, alive with geothermal activity and home to some of the most breathtaking landscapes on earth. It's a place where the 'great outdoors' is turned up to eleven, at the cutting edge of Nordic cool, yet with a history and a culture that are rooted in the island's Viking past. Viking Ocean Cruises, Crystal Expedition Cruises, Ponant, Hurtigruten, Lindblad and most recently Silversea have all announced sailings for UK guests this summer.
Malta is the most recent addition to the Green List, and UK travellers are who are fully vaccinated can entre Malta without any other restrictions. Valletta is a common call on Mediterranean itineraries in 'normal' times, and the tiny capital packs in an awful lot of history considering its diminutive size. The atmospheric old streets, bathed in Mediterranean sunshine, are full of attractive honey-golden buildings, along with an impressive selection of bars and restaurants. Viking Ocean Cruises are operating two Valletta round-trip itineraries from July through to October. Their 'Malta & Adriatic Jewels' and 'Malta, the Adriatic & Greece' cruises may visit Amber List countries, but with talk of fully vaccinated guests soon being able able to avoid self-isolation on their return from Amber countries, these sailings will appeal to many.
The Faroe Islands archipelago is made up of 18 rocky, volcanic islands between Iceland and Norway. The capital Tórshavn has narrow streets with turfed roofed houses and the island's sea cliffs are home to thousands of puffins, razorbills, guillemots and kittiwakes. The Faroes are often included in sailings which combine Iceland with Norway or the UK, but you'll have to wait until 2022 for a cruise to take you there.
Australia & New Zealand
The closed border policies and stringent snap lockdowns have helped keep Australia and New Zealand's coronavirus rates enviably low. Of course, this means that we're not currently allowed to visit either but there are several lines positioning themselves for a surge of interest when we can. Exciting programmes in 2022/23 from Silversea, Regent, Seabourn, Ponant, Windstar, Oceania, Tradewind Voyages and Hapag-Lloyd are already selling out.
Falkland Islands, South Georgia and South Sandwich Islands
A common feature on longer Antarctica itineraries, we can't recommend these islands enough. In the Falklands you'll see rookeries of charming rockhopper penguins and numerous black-browed albatross, on islands that exude Britishness, while South Georgia is known as the 'Serengeti of the South' thanks to the incredible concentration of wildlife. Getting there means travelling through amber list countries, so although these might not be something for now, they should certainly be something for later.
St Helena, Ascension and Tristan da Cunha
These British Overseas Territories are, to put it mildly, remote. St Helena was home to the exiled Napoleon Bonaparte and until recently could only be reached by hitching a ride on one of the last working Royal Mail ships in the world. Impressively there are cruises that explore these craggy volcanic islands, home to a stunning array of seabirds, with Silver Explorer and Crystal Endeavor visiting in March 2022 on sailings from South America to southern Africa (travel restrictions in place).
Singapore and Brunei
Bandar Seri Begawan, capital of the tiny Islamic sultanate of Brunei, often appears on cruise itineraries in South East Asia. Situated on the northern coast of Borneo, it's a surprisingly understated city considering the Sultan of Brunei's legendary wealth. Reaching Brunei will require travelling to neighbouring countries, and although Singapore is on our Green List and has seen a successful resumption of domestic cruises, it is currently closed to foreign holidaymakers.
There is no shortage of cruises to Gibraltar, poised as it is strategically at the jaws of Europe and Africa. However, this small enclave of Britishness can only be enjoyed as part of a cruise when restrictions to our European neighbours relax.
Israel and Jerusalem
Vaccination success led to a flurry of cruise resumption announcements focused on Israel. Unfortunately, the recent flare-up of tensions in the area has meant a suspension of those plans, but we expect the situation to continue to improve and visitors to quickly return to this fascinating area in the autumn.
With the cruise industry committed to enhanced consumer protection for many voyages departing in the upcoming months, an amazing array of itineraries available in 2021, 2022 and beyond, and the inevitability of an expanded Green List, we think now is the time to look forward and plan for better times rather than be disappointed with the current restrictions.