Welcome to Cruise Passenger’s cruise guide 2022. At the close of 2021, five million had sailed on cruise ships around the world without major incident. 

That’s an amazing record, given the challenges faced in dozens of different countries with differing health protocols.  It speaks volumes for enormous change the industry has made to health, safety and medical facilities on board their vessels.

In Australia and New Zealand, we expect sailings to resume mid-Year with a full wave season for the first time in two years.

Expect quite a party!

We hope you find the cruise you’re looking for in these pages. You’ll find helpful, tips and advice from our team of expert writers, and the best cruise lines have given us their own take on ships, amenities, activities and how they are taking care of you.

There are plenty of sailings to choose from.

What’s cruising like today? Expect as little extra paperwork. Our best advice: stay flexible and relaxed. It’s your holiday and its worth a little extra effort.

Cruise operators have been running a campaign to explain why a cruise ship is about the safest and least restrictive place you can be if you want to visit more than one country on your holiday. Not only are the testing regimes on board second to none, but the new hospital facilities are also state-of-the-art.

Not only that, but you have helpful crew to get you through all those pesky regulations and make sure you are kept safe and sane.

What’s changed over the past year? Well, you’ve been booking further out on smaller, more luxurious ships or trading up on bigger liners for the best suites.

There have ben some good changes for passengers on Premium and Upper Premium brands.  Princess once reigned supreme here, but now lines offering better value like Viking, Norwegian and Celebrity have introduced a completely new ethos around all-inclusive offerings and a growing fleet of exciting new ships.

Ensuring passengers have inclusions like WiFi, basic drinks packages and at least one shore excursion included in their fares has always made sense to us. And those lines who try to drive on-board spending with irritating crew members trying to sell drinks packages and spa treatments had better watch out.

Meanwhile, the allure of adventures and expeditions has grown enormously as we reward ourselves with a dose of revenge spending for the last 20 months of abstinence.

Lines like Hurtigruten, Ponant and Scenic, with its new ocean vessels, have found growing demand for new itineraries in northern Europe, like Norway sailings, and for that bucket-list trip to the ice.

Meanwhile in Australia and New Zealand, the admirable efforts of Coral Expeditions, which has sailed its fleet of three small ships around Australia for 12 months,  have shown how we can sail in safety.

On rivers, most lines will be sailing in 2022 throughout Europe and America, with Asia expected to reopen soon.  They have a very strong case as one of the safest forms of holiday anywhere.

Here’s why:

It really is hassle-free –  Even in a post-COVID age you can travel across borders knowing your cruise line is taking care of the health regulations, correct documentation, masks and tests. You’ll unpack only once and be transported to some of the world’s most fascinating towns with historic connections you thought were fairytales. And you only have to walk down the gangplank to taste the local food and wine or meet up with the locals. All this is an atmosphere of camaraderie among you 200 or so guests that you just don’t get on a big ship.

Great destinations –   River ships really do go to places others can’t. The Amazon, the Chobe River in Africa, the Yangtze in China – these are all adventurous locations that a river cruise can transport you to, mostly in the lap of luxury. And then there are the miraculous river systems of Europe that pass by the amazing architecture of the riverbank: castles, splendid opera houses, and astonishing sites like the pyramids.

All included – From Scenic’s white-gloved butlers to Viking’s Owner’s Suites, and from Avalon’s river-facing beds to Uniworld’s over-the-top decorations, river ships are amazing pieces of maritime architecture. And today, there are chef’s tables for fine dining and paired wines, cooking schools, spas and swimming pools all tucked into exactly the same space, at least in Europe. (Each ship must pass through the intricate system of locks and are the same length.) Australian Glen Moroney of Scenic created the craze for balconies, thanks to his revolutionary ‘space ships’. And Viking’s longships, Europe’s biggest fleet, have perfected outside dining.

The ever-changing world outside your window – Amsterdam to Budapest is one of the world’s most popular river routes. But it’s still an amazing experience (take one in spring when few are around to witness it). As you relax, your ship takes you from Holland to Germany – the Rhine Gorge is probably the most beautiful stretch – Austria for Vienna and the white horses and the Wachau Valley, and into Hungary for Budapest. Remember, you only unpacked once.

Perfect for immersive cultural experiences – Your tour guides all come from the town or city you’ve docked in. So they are not only experts, but part of the local culture. You’ll get to have lunch or dinner (or both) on shore and see markets and shops. Often, you can pack in tours that take in cooking schools, wineries and exclusive concerts. I could hardly believe one cruise line’s boast that a Viennese orchestra would play for us in the concert hall, but they did, and they took us for drinks afterwards.

Small luxury ships – Most river ships take a maximum of around 200 guests and a crew of around 50. So you’ll soon get to know your fellow travellers. There is a briefing over cocktails each evening, and entertainment, although that might just be a piano man. Many lines provide bikes, cruise directors, wellness managers, activity managers – even kayaks. There will be three or four decks, depending on the vessel, and some have beauty salons, fitness centres and spas.

No problems with sea sickness – There are no waves, no sudden movements – just the gentle swaying of the vessel. The flat-bottomed ships provide a pleasant ride.

Value proposition – River cruising is good value. For a start, most provide all food, wine with meals and even transfers from the airport (a big bonus today, when so much regulation can trip up the unwary traveller). Guides, shore excursions and just being there is important, too. Some include air travel – even business class for the luxury lines – and lines like Avalon specialise in booking stays in cities at either end of your cruise, or even a land segment joined by another river cruise.

So get ready – 2022 is going to be the year we leave dry dock.

Use our cruise guide to find the perfect journey and enjoy an unrivalled experience.


Peter Lynch,

Editor in Chief