Put life in cruise control.
Some of you may recall that last year I went on a Fred. Olsen cruise which just happened to be full of lovely Sunday Post readers!
It was one of the easiest trips I’ve ever made.
Why? Because I drove to Rosyth 35 minutes from my Perthshire abode and was on the ship just an hour after leaving home.
Talk about convenient? It knocks seven bells out of airport hassle, that’s for sure.
The availability of cruises that sail direct from Scotland has never been better.
There are two companies to look out for Fred. Olsen Cruise Lines and Cruise & Maritime Voyages.
As well as the convenience of sailing from Greenock, Dundee, Leith or Rosyth, there are some great offers on cruises this year.
Two excellent agents to use and who know cruising inside out are Barrhead Travel and Touch of Class Travel.
Barrhead is an award-winning group with specialist cruise agents available to offer the best advice to travellers while every holiday is fully financially protected.
Its special partnership with cruise lines allow it to consistently offer exclusive cruise packages at really competitive prices. See barrheadtravel.co.uk
From the biggest travel agency to perhaps the smallest, Touch of Class Travel.
A cruise specialist, working closely as a member of the Global Travel Group, this operation is run from Largs by Scottish travel guru Ken Clifford.
In addition to consulting by phone and internet, Ken offers a bespoke service to clients through his ‘travel-by-appointment clinics’.
You make an appointment on a day and time that suits, then turn up, enjoy a refreshment and spend time learning about all the current offers and options.
He has clients from across the UK who call to discuss travelling to such places as Argentina and New Zealand.
All travel purchased through Touch of Class Travel is ATOL protected.
These days, it’s not just cruises around Scotland’s beautiful scenic islands on offer far from it.
Fred. Olsen has anything from a three-night mini-cruise to Dublin (from £299) to a whopping 32-nighter in November to the Caribbean, direct from Greenock (from £2,834).
This is the first time Scots can sail direct to wonderful islands such as Barbados, Grenada, Bequia, St Lucia, St Barthelemy, St Kitts and St Maarten.
Cruise & Maritime Voyages has a new ship, called Magellan. This cruise offers a great chance to view some of Norway’s most spectacular and dramatic scenery on CMV’s optional shore excursions, including the Vringsfoss waterfall, Flm railway and the old houses at Bryggen in Bergen. Prices are from £479.
Then it has its ship Marco Polo departing from Leith, Edinburgh. If you don’t want any sleep as it will scarcely ever get dark then choose to depart June 24 on an 11-night cruise to the northern isles and Iceland.
It visits the Shetlands, Faroes, Westmann Islands and Orkneys, plus four Icelandic ports including overnight in the capital Reykjavik. Prices from £899.
A favourite intinerary of mine is the Baltic and St Petersburg in Russia.
CMV has a departure on July 11 on a 12-night cruise to Copenhagen, Helsinki, overnight in St Petersburg, medieval Tallin in Estonia, Stockholm and Fedrikstad for visiting Oslo.
In Russia, everyone with a British passport on a CMV excursion gets a group visa entry so you can avoid the cost of a visa and the application fee. Prices are from £999.
CMV is a traditional British cruise experience for adults. Even during school holidays, you will be in the company of adult guests only.
It has great deals for singles on board the Magellan with 150 superior cabins for single occupancy with just a 25% single supplement.
This is compared with supplements of anything up to 100% with some cruise lines.
Its itineraries are carefully constructed to include not only popular ports of call but also many more remote destinations not always accessible by larger resort-style ships.
This year, for £17-a-day, you can elect to buy its all-inclusive drinks package.
Fred. Olsen also has an all-inclusive drinks package for £10 a day on standard cruises. Festive sailings, speciality sailings and mini-cruises are charged at £29 per person.
Fred. Olsen’s ship Boudicca has a seven-night Scottish Highlands and Islands cruise, departing from Rosyth on June 21. Prices start from £869 per person.
From the peaceful Orkney Isles to the beautiful Shetlands, Boudicca will visit colourful Tobermory and the scenic isles of Lewis and Skye.
Another cracker will be Boudicca’s nine-night Castles, Gardens and a Mystery Cruise, departing from Rosyth on July 10. Prices start from £999 per person.
With calls at Invergordon, where guests can take a trip to the famous Loch Ness or explore Dunrobin Castle; Kirkwall, where a journey to Balfour Castle is highly recommended; as well as Tobermory, Falmouth and Newcastle, guests can discover some of the finest landscapes, architecture and gardens in the UK.