BOOK BLOOMING EARLY
Opinion varies among expert cruisers about how to get the best deals and cabins. Much depends on what sort of cruise you want to book. The best cabins on those with very limited availability or at peak times can sell out well in advance, especially in places such as Antarctica and the Galapagos. Prices below are per person, based on two sharing, including breakfast, flights and transfers unless otherwise stated. All meals are included on-board cruises. For about eight weeks from midMarch to mid-May, the Keukenhof gardens in Lisse, western Holland, put on Europe’s most dazzling flower show. More than six million tulip, daffodil and hyacinth bulbs all bloom at once, and the world’s amateur gardeners and flower-lovers all want a piece of it. Tours are already booking up, especially itineraries that include time in Amsterdam and Antwerp. Brightwater offers limited cabins on the river cruiser MS Gérard Schmitter with a bulb-field excursion.
From £1,295 for a four-night Dutch Bulbfield Cruise departing April 14 in a twin-berth cabin (brightwaterholidays.com). cruises. Cunard’s Queen Mary 2 makes this journey year round. If you’re not fussy about the departure date, direction of cruise or accommodation, you can always find a space – but this is not the case if you want a higher, ocean-facing cabin on the westbound leg. These are already disappearing fast for 2019 dates.
From £1,179 for a Westbound Transatlantic Crossing departing Southampton on April 28, in an Oceanview stateroom (cunard.co.uk). soldiers disembarked on the Normandy beaches. Tight security and limited hotel space means visiting by land will be difficult in June, but there’s still availability on MS Marco Polo’s commemorative itinerary, taking in the beaches, plus Antwerp, Honfleur and Rouen, accompanied by a Second World War historian.
From £839 for an inside cabin on a six-night 75th D-Day Anniversary Cruise departing Portsmouth on June 2 (cruiseandmaritime.com).
CRUISING FOR DEALSSouth Plaza Island in the Galapagos, main; tulips and windmills in Holland, above; the ancient temples of Angkor, Cambodia, right