Yet one of the most marked changes on the cruise map for 2023 can be seen in Baltic Sea sailings which last year lost the shining jewel that anchored so many itineraries – the glorious Russian city of St Petersburg. The ongoing conflict in Ukraine has ruled it off-limits, forcing companies to search for alternatives, such as little-known Scandinavian outposts full of local charm.
The Swedish isle of Gotland, crowned by the gorgeous cobbled town of Visby – a Unesco World Heritage Site billed as Sweden’s answer to the Hamptons – is increasingly appearing. Karlskrona, renowned as Sweden’s only Baroque city and home to the country’s largest naval base, is another, as is Gotska Sandon, an uninhabited isle north of Gotland famed as a secluded paradise of white-sand beaches and pine forests.
A clutch of Finnish destinations are also making their mark, including the west coast city of Vaasa, the northern beach resort of Kalajoki and pretty seaside town Rauma, along with numerous sleepy islands.
Stops in Denmark, on the isles of Bornholm and Christiansø, the attractive port city of Klaipeda in Lithuania, and the Estonian island of Saaremaa also appear in 2023 sailings.
Oceania Cruises’ London to Oslo voyage, departing on June 21, includes calls at Skagen in Denmark and Visby and Karlskrona in Sweden, with prices from £2,549 per person (oceaniacruises.com).
Odysseys and far flung journeys
This year marks the return of world cruises departing the UK with Cunard, P&O Cruises and Fred Olsen offering circumnavigations largely from Southampton, though the latter is also offering a departure from Liverpool (on February 21, with berths from £7,999 per person).
Itineraries have changed little from the traditional tried-and-tested routes via Asia, the Americas and Australasia, with full sailings ranging from 80 days upwards, or split into segments of up to 40 or 50 nights.
Princess Cruises is offering portions of its World Cruise from Dover, where guests can choose to join the voyage part way through to sail to Sydney, Brisbane, Auckland and New York.
One of the most surprising destinations this year is the White Continent, featured as part of Fred Olsen’s 78-night Exploration of South America and the Antarctic from Portsmouth, which even crosses the notorious Drake Passage to cruise past the mountains and glaciers of the Antarctic peninsula .