The top 10 cruise holidays in Spain

Our expert's pick of the top 10 cruise holidays to Spain in 2015, including luxury cruises, river cruises and no-fly cruises to Barceolna, Menorca, Madeira, Malaga and Ibiza


Explore Seville's old town on a cruise journey with Shearings  

For more general advice on booking a holiday in Spain, see our Spain summer holidays guide. Our guide features expert recommendations for cities, beach, villa, culture, food and drinkand activity holidays.

1. Saga Saphire to a spectrum of Spanish ports

Fancy a no-fly late autumn sojourn to Spain? Saga has a 15-night journey from and back to Southampton. The itinerary features a particularly good spectrum of Spanish ports, including Almería, dominated by the huge Alcazaba, the second-largest Moorish fortress in the country after Granada’s Alhambra – which is also an excursion possibility from here. Alicante is good for shopping or beach time, Palma in Majorca is an oft-overlooked gem and Valencia has the futuristic City of Arts and Sciences, which houses the largest aquarium in Europe.

Barcelona is another top cuising port and the route also includes Gibraltar and Lisbon, the Portuguese capital. The ship, Saga Sapphire, takes 720 passengers and is nicely geared to an over-50s audience, with excellent food on board.

Saga (; 0800 096 0079), 15 nights, departs October 24, 2015 from £2,300 per person.

2. Cunard's Queen Victoria to the Canary Islands

Talks by guest speaker Ann Widdecombe are not to be sniffed at but it’s the early summer sunshine in the Canaries that will lure many on this cruise from Southampton. That, and the fact that it’s on Cunard’s luxurious Queen Victoria, with ample opportunity to dress up for dinner and ballroom dancing.

The Canaries’ “big three” – Tenerife, Gran Canaria and Lanzarote – are all on the list, along with Portugal’s Madeira, and most are delightfully “in bloom” at this time of year. Lisbon is on the itinerary, too, but a big plus are calls in northern Spain at both Vigo – a short drive from the noble pilgrimage city of Santiago de Compostela – and La Coruna, one of Europe’s most attractive seaside cities. Despite taking 2,000 passengers, Queen Victoria retains plenty of the glamour and white-glove service you would expect from the line.

Cunard (; 0843 374 2224), 11 nights, departs May 10, 2015 from £1,339 per person.

3. Silversea cruise with a cookery school on board

If you’re the type who needs a “purpose” when travelling there is a Silversea cruise that has a rather fine cooking school on board. It’s operated by the grandly-titled L’Ecole des Chefs by Relais & Chateaux and includes demonstrations by top chefs, visits to markets to find ingredients to cook your own (supervised) efforts, gourmet lunches and competitions.

That’s plenty to cram into a seven-night holiday that has its starter in Lisbon, calls at Portugal’s Portimão for the soup course, enters Spain for its main course of Cadiz, Málaga, Cartagena and Valencia, then settles down for dessert and coffee with an overnight stay in Barcelona. As for the ship, Silver Cloud is a stylish 296-passenger all-suite vessel that operates on an all-inclusive basis.

The cruise on board the Silver Cloud includes visits to Malaga, Valencia and Barcelona

Silversea (; 0844 251 0837), seven nights, departs September 11, 2015 from £2,350 per person excluding flights.

4. Royal Caribbean cruise to the north of Spain

A voyage on a fresh-out-of-the-dock ship is exciting, especially when it’s Royal Caribbean’s mammoth Anthem of the Seas. One of two new Quantum-class ships, Anthem will spend its first summer sailing out of Southampton and one of its earliest voyages is an unusual one, visiting three ports in the north of Spain. There’s Vigo – which sits above Portugal – and Bilbao, home to the renowned Guggenheim Museum, but it’s Gijon that captures the attention. Only recently appearing on cruise schedules, it’s a pleasing seaside town with harbour-side fish restaurants, and has decent beaches nearby.

Le Havre – from where Paris excursions are possible – is also on the list, but for many, and especially those travelling with children, the ship will be the star, with novelties such as North Star, a viewing pod that rises 300ft above the sea, a flight simulator, 18 dining spots… and bumper cars.

Gijon is a seaside town offering harbour-side fish restaurants

Royal Caribbean (; 0844 493 4005), eight nights, departs April 22, from £995 per person.

5. Thomson cruise from Majorca to Ibiza

Here’s a chance to relive those childhood holidays in Spain during the school summer holidays with your own brood at a reasonable cost. Thomson’s week-long Tapas & Tagines cruise sails from Majorca and visits Cadiz, Tangier in Morocco, Almería and Ibiza. If the children don’t want to go to Seville (from Cadiz), there are decent beaches near the port city, although at Almería teenagers should enjoy a trip into the Tabernas Desert.

Island Escape, the ship, has a pool, basketball, children’s club and plenty of buffet dining. Standard drinks are all-inclusive (saves plenty on the soft-drinks bill) and there are no gratuities to pay.

The Thomson cruise includes a stop in Tangier, Morocco

Thomson (; 0871 231 4691), seven nights, departs July 28, 2015 from £799 per person (based on family of four) including return Luton flight.

6. Star Clippers cruise to Menorca

Tall-ship cruising is a rare chance to cruise, wind permitting, under sail. Star Clippers’ ship, Star Flyer, has 16 sails on four lofty masts and plenty of nimble-footed crew to handle the ropes. Designed to replicate a tea clipper the ship is a majestic sight when in full flow and has copious creature comforts including comfy cabins (some with balcony), a small pool, bar, library and plush dining room, all for just 170 guests.

The itinerary is very Spain-intensive, beginning in Barcelona and calling at Menorca (quite a rarity), Majorca, Cartagena, Motril – the closest port to Granada and its Alhambra – chic Puerto Banus and Málaga.

The luxurious Star Flyer accommodates 170 guests

Star Clippers (; 0845 200 6145), seven nights, departs October 10, 2015 from £1,350 per person excluding flights.

7. Celebrity Cruises itinerary from Barcelona

On the face of it this looks likes a fairly standard round-trip from Barcelona on a large, feature-packed Celebrity Cruises ship. What makes it special is that Equinox has a large area of (real) grass lawn on its top deck (a dedicated lawn keeper tends it) which makes it one of the best vantage points of any vessel. You can lay down a rug with a drink from the bar and watch your ship sail out of Barcelona and in to Palma, Cartagena, Gibraltar, Lisbon, Cadiz and Málaga. For extra entertainment, there are regular glass-blowing demonstrations in a special lawn-side theatre.

The itinerary includes an overnight stay in Barcelona with further stopovers in Lisbon and Málaga. A word on that last port; it’s is an unsung city with hilltop castle, handsome bullring, Moorish palace, unusual cathedral and a Picasso museum to boot.

The Celebrity Cruises trip includes an overnight stay in Barcelona

Celebrity Cruises (; 0844 493 2043), 13 nights, departs October 2, 2015 from £1,275 per person, flights extra.

8. Shearings cruise through Spain and Portugal

One of the most unusual river cruises in Europe, Treasures of Andalucía involves making a sea passage that connects two Spanish waterways. Belle de Cadix is based in Seville, within walking distance of the city centre, and travels south down the Guadalquivir to the Atlantic Ocean. If sea conditions are moderate, it then glides past the endless beach of the wildlife-rich Donana National Park to the Guadiana, the small river separating Spain and Portugal. Penetrating as far as the pretty village of Alcoutim, it then turns round and returns to base.

Along the way you’ll enjoy an included excursion to Granada and the opportunity to visit Cordoba, Jerez and Faro with free time to explore Seville and Cadiz. The comfy river ship, operated by French line CroisiEurope, has spacious sun deck, plunge pool, two lounges and a bar (drinks are included).

Shearings (; 0844 822 6866), seven nights, departures from April to October, from £1,349 per person.

9. Brittany Ferries to Santander and Bilbao

For those who lament that they can’t spend longer in port, the green and pleasant north of Spain can be reached on a Brittany Ferries mini-cruise. Ferries they may be, but the ships that make the regular 20-hour crossing from Portsmouth to Santander and Bilbao (or Plymouth to Santander) have en-suite cabins, an à la carte French restaurant, cinema, pool and entertainment. There’s even a wildlife officer on many sailings, to help passengers spot whales in the Bay of Biscay.

Take your car and you can spend as long as you like exploring the fabulous beaches, historic towns and dramatic scenery of northern Spain, as well as sampling its great seafood restaurants.

This Brittany Ferries mini-cruise visits Bilbao in the province of Biscay

Brittany Ferries (; 0871 244 0744), several sailings each week, from £339 per person and including car carriage and double cabin.

10. Fred Olsen's Balmoral to the Canary Islands and Madeira

Can’t decide between Spain and Portugal? Or looking to add some more unusual destinations? Late next year Fred Olsen’s largest ship, Balmoral (but still only 1,300 passengers), sets off from Southampton on a three-week adventure. Spain features prominently, with calls at the three main Canary isles – Tenerife, Gran Canaria and Lanzarote – along with the Portuguese island of Madeira.

The big thrills, though, are calls at Senegal and Gambia in West Africa – great for wildlife-watchers – as well as two islands in the Cape Verde archipelago, a former Portuguese colony. If it all sounds too exotic, Balmoral is a real home-from-home on which you can dance to a live band and pay for your pint of bitter in pounds and pence.

The Fred Olsen cruise is great for wildlife-watchers

Fred Olsen (; 0845 868 9659), 21 nights, departs November 21, 2015 from £1,799 per person.

For more expert holiday selections in Spain, see our top 10 beach holidays, culture holidays, activity holidays and food and drink holidays.

The Telegrph