For 2009, cruise ships are making maiden calls at a myriad of ports on itineraries that cross the Atlantic, circle the United Kingdom, and cruise the Mexican Riviera.
Liverpool gave the world the Beatles, but few realize that Liverpool also launched Cunard Steamship Company in 1840. This fall, Cunard’s Queen Mary 2 will celebrate her fifth season by circumnavigating the British Isles for the first time, making a maiden call at the mother company’s birthplace. There, QM2 passengers can explore the Fab Four’s stomping grounds like Penny Lane and Strawberry Field.
Liverpool isn’t just about the Beatles, though. Albert Dock, once England’s gateway to America, proved pivotal in England’s trade across the pond. Today, Albert Dock’s restored warehouses make up one of the city’s most outstanding heritage attractions. QM2’s maiden tour of the British Isles begins and ends in Southampton in October. Travelers fly to London and transfer to Southampton for the eight-day cruise. Fares start at $1,867 per person. (800)728-6273, www.cunard.com
Cunard isn’t the only flag calling at new ports. Starting in September, Norwegian Sun will make its maiden call at La Paz, Mexico, during her Mexican Riviera cruises. Discovered by Hernán Cortés in 1535, La Paz -- the capital of Baja California Sur -- is a mecca for snorkelers and divers. The cruise includes an excursion to Los Islotes, a cluster of small islands with a large sea lion colony that attracts beginner and experienced snorkelers who come to swim with the playful creatures. Travelers fly in and out of San Francisco for the 11-day round-trip Mexican Riviera cruises. Fares start at $799 per person. (866) 234-7350, www.ncl.com
For her Top of the World itinerary, Tahitian Princess will make her maiden call at Saint-Pierre et Miquelon. This undiscovered French territory off the coast of Newfoundland is the last remnant of France’s once-massive holding in North America. The center of the cod-fishing industry and a producer of liquor during Prohibition, this quaint stop in the North Atlantic has fewer than 10,000 inhabitants, most of whom are fishermen who live on the archipelago of eight islands that’s slightly larger than Washington, D.C. For this cruise, passengers fly to London and transfer to Dover for the 18-day sail to New York. Fares start at $4,695. (800) 774-6237, www.princess.com
A Luxe Odyssey In June, the industry’s first new luxury ship in six years debuts. Seabourn Odyssey accommodates 450 passengers in 225 suites, including the 1,182-square-foot Grand Wintergarden, complete with a private, glass-enclosed solarium. Sporting an 11,400-square-foot, two-deck spa, Odyssey commences her inaugural season in Venice and winds up in the Caribbean. Inaugural fares from $4,335. (800) 929-9391, www.seabourn.com