• Annabel Langley

    Love travelling, but hate flying? You’re in luck, because you don’t need to jet off to join a Thomson cruise. We sail from the UK, so you can go from country to country without taking a single flight. Here’s how you can start your holiday on home turf…

    Just over a quarter of Brits are believed to have a fear of flying, but we’re also holidaying more than ever before. If your pre-flight routine involves hypnotherapy or loading up on airport drinks, then a flight-free cruise could be the way forward. TUI Discovery is sailing from the UK for summer 2018, so you can hop onboard the ship from Newcastle or Southampton. From Norway to the Netherlands, check out where you can sail from your doorstep…

    Baltic Discovery

    As the name suggests, this bumper 14-night cruise is a great introduction to the Baltics. You’ll step foot in seven countries without even taking to the skies. The longer-than-your-arm list includes Sweden, Estonia, Russia, Finland and Denmark – to name just a few. You’ll go from Newcastle to Norway, where your first stop’s in cosmopolitan Oslo. Here, striking skyscrapers, world-class museums and modern bars are fringed by forests, parks and lakes. You’ll tick two of Sweden’s big-hitters off your list, too, including culinary capital Gothenburg and historic Stockholm. Tallinn brings the bygone charm with its Medieval old town, while pint-sized Helsinki’s museums, restaurants and bars come with a quirky edge. The last two seaside towns – Warnemunde and Kalundborg – are worth a visit in their own right, for their beaches, markets and dinky cafés. But they’re also jumping-off points for trips to two must-see capitals – Berlin and Copenhagen. We run excursions to both, so you don’t have to worry about making your own way there.

    Fire & Ice

    Fjords, glaciers and Loch Ness – the Fire & Ice itinerary was made for lovers of all things natural. The ship boomerangs from Iceland and Norway to Scotland and the Shetland Islands. You’ll take in the world’s northernmost town, as well as Britain’s most northerly town. You can sink into the warm, milky waters of the Blue Lagoon or climb to the top of Iceland’s biggest church in Reykjavik. Then, tread on a glistening glacier in Olden, Norway, or glide in between the country’s longest fjord in Flam. Closer to home, you’ve got Lerwick in the Shetland Islands, where trips along the show-stopping coast are the biggest draw. Dolphins, ponies and seals often make an appearance, too. Over in Invergordon, meanwhile, you can chase the legend of Loch Ness, passing wild rivers, valleys and woods as you go.

    Iceland hotels

    Fantastic Fjords

    This eight-night cruise puts all its eggs in Norway’s good-looking basket. Here, all eyes are on Mother Nature’s creations – whether it’s plunging waterfalls, mountain plateaus or mirror-like lakes. It’s Norway but not as you know it in Haugesund. Book a tour to nearby Karmoy Island, and you’ll see all the trademark Norwegian signs like forests and lakes, as well as bleached-white beaches. Then there are the fjords. Skjolden and Flam both have prime spots along the world’s longest fjord, Sognefjorden. The latter’s also home to the world’s steepest railway, which slices through a valley almost 3,000 feet above sea level. Before pulling back into Southampton, you’ll drop anchor in Stavanger, where Pulpit Rock is the place on everyone’s lips. You can take a boat tour to snap this famous rock formation, which soars to a height of 604 metres above the teal-green Lysefjord.

    European Experience

    Amsterdam and Bruges are just two of the European heavyweights you can explore on this cruise. Setting off from Southampton, your first stop is history-filled Bremerhaven in Germany. Old ships, state-of-the-art museums and a copy of Dubai’s Burj Al Arab line up along its waterfront. And you can venture further afield, with a tour of Hamburg’s highlights. Amsterdam is next on the agenda. You’ll get two days here – and you’ll need it to see all the sights. There are canals to cruise, Anne Frank House to tour and a square full of museums and art galleries to inspect. Your next stop is Zeebrugge, a little port village just half an hour’s drive from fairytale-esque Bruges. You can wander the city’s cobbled lanes, popping in and out of chocolate shops and canal-side pubs. After, the cruise takes a French turn, with visits to Le Havre and Cherbourg. From Cherbourg, you can pay a visit to the 70-metre-long Bayeux Tapestry, or see where the D Day landings took place on a tour of Ste Mere L’Eglise.

    Interested in flight-free cruising? Visit the Thomson Cruises website to find out more about all the itineraries on offer. Just so you know, you’ll need to make your own way to your departure port.