The 9 Most Anticipated 2021 Cruises for a Luxurious Return to International Travel

Courtesy Uniworld River Cruises

We’re dreaming of international waters.

After a challenging year in 2020, luxury cruising is staging a comeback in 2021 once international travel is deemed safe. While last year saw the delay of ship unveilings and inaugural voyages, 2021 is when some of our favorite luxury cruise lines will return to international waters and the business of whisking travelers around the world. As of now, these 2021 cruises are only meant to inspire future travel, but because cruises are often booked months (if not years) in advance, we’ve highlighted nine of our favorite (and most anticipated) itineraries of the 2021 cruising season.

Related: How to Have the Best Experience on Your First River Cruise

Seabourn Venture Inaugural Voyage, Seabourn Cruises

Seabourn Cruises’ new expedition ship, Seabourn Venture, has an undeniable allure with 132 water-facing rooms and two submarines for aquatic exploration. The Seabourn Venture will sail 10- to 14-day Norway-based cruises, for a winter wonderland, fjord-filled adventure in pursuit of Scandinavian beauty, and of course, the northern lights. While the scenery rushing by will offer overwhelming Norwegian beauty, so too does the Scandi-chic ship interiors. The common areas feature wool throws and unfinished wood accent pieces, and play with those meticulous (and classically Scandinavian) vertical design lines.

Secrets of Egypt & the Nile, AmaWaterways


Courtesy AmaWaterways

AmaWaterways, the iconic river cruise line, will unveil their newest ship, the AmaDahlia, this year. AmaDahlia will sail 17 departures in 2021, beginning in September of this year, followed by 38 cruises in 2022. The intimate river boat can cruise only 68 guests up the Nile in 10 staterooms and 24 suites (with chic balconies from which guests can watch the reeds rush by). Secrets of Egypt & the Nile is an 11-night experience, cruising from Cairo to Luxor and back, on the way seeing sights like the Valley of Kings and Queens, the Great Pyramids of Giza, and the exquisitely decorated tomb of Queen Nefertari.

Le Commandant-Charcot Inaugural Voyage, Ponant


Courtesy Ponant

Ponant’s first hybrid-electric ship is set to begin sailing on May 31, 2021 for a 14-day journey between Iceland and Greenland. Of course, first and foremost, the revelation of an intimate, hybrid commercial cruising vessel—powered by natural gas and an electric battery—makes Le Commandant-Charcot’s launch highly anticipated. But the expedition itself is just as noteworthy; the voyage will explore Jan Mayen Island and the Scoresby Sun, where passengers will experience the largest display of fjords in the world, as well as Greenland’s largely untouched Blosseville Coast.

Venice & the Gems of Northern Italy, Uniworld


Courtesy Uniworld River Cruises

Uniworld, another coveted river cruising entity, unveils their S.S. La Venezia in 2021, an entirely reimagined vessel with elaborate Venitian-inspired interiors. S.S. La Venezia will make her first voyage—following the ship’s debut—from Venice, sailing the iconic canals to smaller Italian towns like Burano and Torcello, before moving toward Bologna and Padua. S.S. La Venezia, later in 2021 and into 2022, will also start to offer Cruise & Rail journeys, connecting the charms of Venice and Milan with the idyllic Swiss Alps.  

Aqua Nera Inaugural Voyage, Aqua Expeditions


Courtesy Aqua Expeditions

Aqua Expeditions will unveil their newest river vessel, Aqua Nera, to sail April 3, 2021—with their CEO and founder onboard alongside highly regarded Peruvian chef Pedro Miguel Schiaffino, who will act as Aqua Nera’s consulting chef. The seven-night cruise takes guests through the Peruvian Amazon to explore the river’s wildlife and surrounding rainforest. And onboard Aqua Nera—which features strikingly modern design and is remarkably intimate with only 20 rooms—passengers will benefit from the knowledge of expert guides as they sail through Peru. 

Related: Where Our Editors Dream of Traveling in 2021

Amazon Explorer, Regent Seven Seas Cruises


Filippo Vinardi/Courtesy Regent Seven Seas Cruises

Regent Seven Seas Cruises had an important year in 2020, with the launch of their new Seven Seas Splendor. And while the Splendor will sail with serene opulence around the globe this year, the Seven Seas Mariner has our attention in 2021 thanks to the Amazon Explorer itinerary set for late 2021. On November 14, the Explorer sets sail from Miami on an over-the-top 24-night sail visiting the Caribbean and South America. This itinerary really fuses the best of a South American river cruise (you’ll sail the Amazon River in Brazil) and a classic Caribbean cruise (think: sugar-sand beach lounging in St. Bart’s). 

Australia & Indonesia Encounter, Windstar Cruises


tanarch/Courtesy Windstars

Windstar is making a triumphant return to Asia (as well as certain Australia ports) with their Australia & Indonesia Encounter itinerary in late 2021. The Wind Spirit, which can host no more than 148 passengers, will sail between continents, from Cairns, Australia to Bali, Indonesia on this 16-day cruise. Passengers will start by snorkeling on the Great Barrier Reef, then head to some of Indonesia’s farthest-flung islands to bask on secluded beaches before winding up in the world’s wellness capital, Bali. 

London to Lisbon, Crystal Cruises


Courtesy Crystal Cruises

Crystal Cruises is set to launch their first expedition ship this year: Crystal Endeavor. But that doesn’t mean you need to set sail to cold climates in order to enjoy the more honed-in exploration approach this ship offers. In fall 2021, Crystal Endeavor will sail in Europe, beginning with their September 28 sail from London to Lisbon. The Crystal Endeavor will give passengers a taste of European luxury in the fall (which is the under-the-radar best time to visit Europe). The 11-night voyage spends a full three days in Bordeaux, feeling the full effects of idyllic French wine country. It also explores the northern coasts of Spain and France before concluding in Lisbon.

Baltra to San Cristobal, Silversea Cruises


Courtesy Silversea Cruises

The Galapagos is a longstanding bucket-list destination, and cruising is the preferred way to visit these islands. However, what stands out about the Silversea Cruises’ Galapagos itinerary in 2021 is that the journey takes place on their first destination-specific ship: Silver Origin. Starting in April 2021, the Silver Origin will set sail from Baltra, Ecuador to San Cristobal (in the Galapagos), completing regular journeys between the two ports for the rest of the season. The seven-day sail on Silver Origin explores Galapagos islands and Ecuadorian sights like Isla Bartolome and the Santa Cruz Highlands.