In an era where rest and recharging have become paramount in travel, 2024 is set to emerge as a landmark year for cruise lines, now more focused than ever on delivering rejuvenating journeys.
A recent November 2023 survey by Allianz Partners USA underscores this shift: travellers are increasingly prioritising holidays that offer a chance to relax and de-stress. So, it’s no surprise that sunny holidays are topping the lists.
Kevin Bubolz, Vice President and Managing Director for Norwegian Cruise Line (NCL) in Continental Europe, the Middle East, and Africa, echoes this sentiment: “Understanding the growing need for holidays that serve as a restorative retreat, NCL’s 2024 itineraries and new ship builds are meticulously crafted to make the most of the outdoors. Traditionally, sunny destinations, such as the Mediterranean and Caribbean, have long been seen as the holy grail of cruise destinations – and that’s not set to change in 2024.”
This surge in sun-seeking is a response to the proven health benefits of sunlight. A 2021 WebMD report reveals spending as little as five minutes outdoors each day can significantly boost self-esteem, reinforcing the allure of sunny holidays.
So, cruises through the Med and the Caribbean aren’t just holidays; they’re a vital source of Vitamin D and well-being at the heart of a restorative getaway.
Join us as we dive into what makes these sun-seeking itineraries must-dos for 2024:
Chasing Mediterranean Sun
The sun factor: Sicily claims to enjoy 350 days of sunshine annually. Portugal revels in 300 days, while Italy’s sunniest month, July, boasts 285 hours of sunshine.
With over 3,000 years of history and cultural intersections, the Mediterranean climate is also incredibly obliging to sun-seekers. Balmy weather during spring and summer makes island-hopping a breeze.
“Globally, the Mediterranean is second only to the Caribbean in terms of preferred international cruising destinations – but among South African travellers, it takes first place year after year,” Bubolz comments.
Make a beeline for Sicily, Portugal, Croatia’s Hvar Island, Malta and Kos, Corfu, and Crete in Greece to up the sun factor.
Sailing the Spectacular Greek Isles
The sun factor: In Greece, one can expect more than 250 days of sunshine per annum.
The Greek Isles conjure images of whitewashed villages and endless aqua-blue seas. The island’s relaxed rhythms and sun-soaked lifestyle from beach to bar delight even the most seasoned Mzansi sun seeker.
Don’t discount travelling in the shoulder or ‘off’ seasons, either. Many Greek islands still offer sunny days and warm temperatures, even in their autumn and winter months. Just be aware that in some spots, shops, restaurants, and facilities shut down during the quieter winter period, so do your research (including on the ocean temperatures if you’re keen on swimming) before booking. The plus side is it’ll be much easier to snag a sun lounger!
5 Sunny Greek spots to bookmark:
- Crete – said to be the hottest island year-round
Catching Rays in the Caribbean
The sun factor: In the winter months (December to April), the Caribbean is said to receive up to 8 hours of sunshine a day, while in summer, things really get scorching – expect up to 10 hours.
With endless sandy beaches and tranquil turquoise waters, the Caribbean epitomises a sunny escape. Temperatures hover around 28°C year-round, making it ideal for revitalising mind, body, and spirit.
“NCL’s short Caribbean itineraries are perfect for those seeking a quick solar boost,” Bubolz says.
These cruises are an ideal add-on if you’re travelling in the USA and dreaming of a sun and rum-soaked Caribbean escape. These cruises are true bucket list cruise destinations.
Be an early bird and book ahead for 2025 for the most stylish way to cruise the Caribbean. The all-new Norwegian Aqua, the third ship in NCL’s Prima Class, sets sail in April 2025 (available for booking now) and will offer seven-day Caribbean itineraries departing Port Canaveral, Florida. Stops will include Puerto Plata, Dominican Republic; Tortola, British Virgin Islands; St. Thomas, U.S. Virgin Islands; and Great Stirrup Cay, NCL’s private island in the Bahamas.
3 Sunny Caribbean spots to bookmark:
- Aruba – said to be the sunniest island in the Caribbean
- The Bahamas – boasts about 340 sunny days a year
- Anguilla – sunny even in the rainy season
Cruising Close to Home
The sun factor: South Africa averages 8 to 10 sunshine hours per day.
For South Africans, local cruises allow access to brilliant sunshine without long flights, layovers, visas, or jetlag.
“There’s no better way to experience South Africa’s spectacular Indian Ocean coastline than on a local cruise,” Bubolz says.
Aboard Norwegian Dawn, guests uncover Mossel Bay, Richards Bay, and beyond while enjoying luxurious accommodations, speciality dining, and superb service. It’s an affordable way for South African holidaymakers to enjoy world-class cruising along local sunny shores. Another huge perk for local cruisegoers? Excursions are priced in ZAR.
More in Mauritius
The sun factor: Over 300 sunny days a year.
What could be better than a 2-for-1 holiday? Cruise to Mauritius, holiday there and then fly back home. Norwegian Dawn offers a 12-day cruise from Cape Town to Mauritius via Madagascar and Mozambique. This itinerary is also offered in reverse.
South Africa has been a key focus for global cruise lines in recent years, including NCL. The cruise line will return to southern Africa, homeporting in Cape Town and Port Louis, Mauritius, on its Norwegian Dawn for the 2023/24 cruise season.
A favourite with relaxed South Africans is the ’freestyle cruising’ concept – no assigned dining and entertainment times and no formal dress codes. Bring on the board shorts and slops! Cruising also presents good value for money for locals, with all the ‘big’ costs covered upfront, includingaccommodation, complimentary dining, activities, and entertainment.
Enjoy visiting sunny, sought-after ports in the Indian Ocean Island, such as Pointe des Galets, Réunion, Fort Dauphin, Madagascar, and Maputo, Mozambique.
“On board Norwegian Dawn, guests can dine at over 10 restaurants and bars, ranging from upscale French cuisine to a Brazilian churrascaria,” says Antoinette Turner, GM of Flight Centre South Africa. “There’s also lively nightlife, including lounges and Broadway-style shows. During days at sea, you can relax by the pool, indulge in a spa treatment, or enjoy activities like waterslides, rock climbing, and sports courts.”
“Cruising also appeals to different generations, making it ideal for multigenerational family holidays,” adds Turner.
With cruise lines expanding offerings in perpetually sunny destinations, travellers have endless options to soak up the Vitamin D in 2024.
ABOUT NORWEGIAN CRUISE LINE
As the innovator in global cruise travel, Norwegian Cruise Line (NCL) has been breaking the boundaries of traditional cruising for 56 years. Most notably, the cruise line revolutionised the industry by offering guests the freedom and flexibility to design their ideal vacation on their preferred schedule with no assigned dining and entertainment times and no formal dress codes. Today, its fleet of 18 contemporary ships sail to nearly 400 of the world’s most desirable destinations, including Great Stirrup Cay, the company’s private island in the Bahamas and its resort destination Harvest Caye in Belize. NCL not only provides superior guest service from land to sea, but also offers a wide variety of award-winning entertainment and dining options as well as a range of accommodations across the fleet, including solo-traveller staterooms, club balcony suites, spa-suites and The Haven by Norwegian®, the company’s ship-within-a-ship concept. For additional information or to book a cruise, contact a travel professional or visit www.ncl.com. For the latest news and exclusive content, visit the NCL Newsroom and follow NCL on Facebook, Instagram, Tik Tok and YouTube @NorwegianCruiseLine; and Twitter @CruiseNorwegian.