This year promises to be one of the most exciting ones yet in cruise. We pick the top 10 hottest events, the coolest cruises and the hippest destinations for 2012!

 

1.Rio Carnival

Rio Carnival

It doesn’t get much hotter than the Rio Carnival and one of the most frustrating things about events like Carnival is how hard it is to secure tickets – unless, that is, you go on a cruise.

Cruise lines are increasingly tying in their cruises with events such as Carnival, the Monaco Grand Prix and Floriade in Amsterdam – and will often buy ticket allocations to secure you the best seats.

This trend is being led by Azamara Club Cruises, whose raison d’etre is all about getting to know a destination in depth.

You can read our Rio de Janeiro port guide for more.

2. Rock ‘n’ Roll Cruising

Kiss

Cruise is the new rock ‘n’ roll – it’s official. First Carnival persuaded veteran rockers Kiss to perform on a ’Wet, Wild & Rockin’ cruise on Carnival Destiny, then Maroon 5 rocked its newest ship, Carnival Magic, and next year it’s Kid Rock’s turn for what is being billed as ”the most amazing throwdown of the decade happening at sea”. If you prefer something a little more cerebral then you might like to try Fred. Olsen whose Vistas programme features everyone from Agatha Christie to the Archers.

3. New Cruise Ships Launches

Disney Ship

The 2012 and 2013 cruise diary is filling up at a rate of knots with up and coming launch dates and whether you’re looking for a family holiday, a luxury getaway or a couple’s hideaway, 2012 is guaranteed to be an exciting time for cruisers everywhere. Visit our exciting Cruise Ship Launch Guide for more information!

4. Gourmet Cuisine

Cuisine

When it comes to food on board, the cruise lines are setting the bar extremely high, with celebrity chefs, gourmet restaurants and even – rumour has it – the first Michelin-starrred restaurant at sea.

Oceania has been at the forefront of this foodie revolution, and its second ship, Riviera, due for launch next year, is set to continue this tradition. Check out our comprehensive Cruise Food Review for more details on where to dine.

5. Cruise and Stay

Statue of Liberty

Adding on a few days to your cruise – either at the beginning or the end – is predicted to be next year’s big trend.

It helps that a number of cruise lines are adding extra sailings from the Big Apple to the Caribbean, both of which make for ideal short breaks.

6. Northern Lights 

Northern Lights

With the sun at the peak of its solar activity, NASA is predicting that 2012 will see the strongest Northern Light activity in 50 years. The best way to see this amazing natural phenomenon is by cruise. For more information read our guide to cruising the Northern Lights.

 

7. Anniversaries

Anniversary

The hottest ticket in town will be for P&O’s 175th anniversary, when for the first time ever, on 3 July 2012, all seven of the fleet will be together in Southampton.

If you can’t get your ticket on board then watch from the docks as a band plays and the ships sail past in a procession from Southampton into the Solent. Each ship will hold a special gala dinner as well as host guest speakers and have heritage art displays on board. There will also be a champagne sailaway party complete with ‘flutterfetti’ (metallic confetti fired from cannons)!

The 100th anniversary of Scott’s ill-fated attempt to reach the South Pole is also this year (a number of lines will retrace the journey), as is the 100th anniversary of the sinking of the Titanic, which will be marked with the opening of a new visitor’s centre in Belfast plus commemorative cruises.

8. The Arabian Gulf

Arabian Gulf

The Arabian Gulf is predicted to be the hottest spot in more ways than one for cruising next year, with two lines – MSC Cruises and Costa Cruises – choosing to base ships there. MSC will run cruises from Abu Dhabi’s new cruise terminal for the first time and Costa is expanding its cruise programme from Dubai. Apart from the guaranteed winter sunshine, there’s loads of stuff to do from wadi-bashing to camel riding.

9. Rambling Along

Rambling Excursions

Whether you like fine art or fine wine – there’s a cruise to suit. And now Ramblers Worldwide Holidays has teamed up with Fred. Olsen Cruise Lines you can take part in some wonderful walking breaks.

10. The Mekong

Mekong

If there’s a river of the moment, it’s the Mekong. Numbers are still small, as the boats are generally boutique-style, but the main operators, such as AMA Waterways, Viking River Cruises, Uniworld and Avalon, say they’re sold out for most of 2012 already, such is the desire of the travelling public to explore the remote villages and magnificent temples along the river’s course.