London - There is nothing like planning a relaxing cruise to shake off the winter blues. And there are some great deals to be found at this time of the year too, as many cruise companies take their ships back from the southern hemisphere to Europe for the start of a new season.
Rather than send them back empty, firms often tempt tourists with cut-price tickets. Even when you factor in the cost of flights to the departure point, the overall cost can still work out cheaper than taking a cruise on the same ship around the Mediterranean or northern Europe in summer. Here are some of the best offers:
A 15-night cruise aboard MSC Poesia from Port Everglades in Florida to Dover costs from only £499 (about R6 000) per person - that’s less than £30 a day for full-board accommodation and on-board entertainment and activities. In addition to eight days at sea, you spend a day in New York, and there are overnight stays in Ponta Delgada in the Azores and in Lisbon and a day at leisure in La Coruna in Spain.
The ship departs Florida on April 20, and although outbound flights to Miami are not included, they can be arranged. Call 0844 561 1955 or visit msccruises.co.uk.
Join Celebrity Eclipse on her 13-night transatlantic journey from Fort Lauderdale to her summer base in Southampton, departing on April 20. Perfect your croquet on the ship’s lawn and go ashore in the sunny Bahamas, Puerto Rico and St Maarten en route. The trip costs from £1,259pp including flight to Miami, and if you book before February 28 you’ll get a complimentary drinks package comprising unlimited alcoholic and soft drinks and cappuccinos. To book, call 0845 456 0523 or visit celebritycruises.co.uk.
Pack your dancing shoes for a ten-night big band and ballroom-themed cruise aboard Crystal Serenity, which sails from Miami to Lisbon on March 31. Single women need not worry because there will be a dozen ‘ambassador hosts’ on board - men with excellent conversational and dancing skills. The all-inclusive holiday costs from £2,512pp. Call Crystal Cruises on 020 7399 7601 or go to crystalcruises.co.uk.
P&O’s Azura is sailing home to Southampton from Barbados on March 21. A 14-night cruise calls at St Lucia, Dominica and Antigua in the Caribbean, and Ponta Delgada too, but there will be plenty of time to enjoy the spa, cinema and numerous restaurants and bars. The cost, from £1,799pp in a superior deluxe balcony cabin, includes flight from Manchester to Barbados. To book, call 0843 373 0111 or visit pocruises.co.uk.
Sail aboard Crown Princess from Galveston, Texas, to Southampton on April 13. The 17-night cruise calls at Fort Lauderdale, the Azores, Lisbon, Zeebrugge for Bruges and Le Havre. The fare, from £1,100pp, includes flight to Houston. Book by calling 0843 373 0333 or go to princess.com. - Mail on Sunday