Roman statesman Marcus Cicero once said “If you have a garden and a library, you have everything you need.” This saying will resonate well with seasoned cruisers, many of whom are keen gardeners who enjoy visiting grand botanical beauty.
So what are some of the best garden-themed cruises on the market for green fingered travellers?
Cunard has just launched its first ever “Australia’s Gardening Journey” on Queen Elizabeth sailing from Sydney on 1 March 2021.
The seven-night cruise will feature a range of activities: lectures, gardening clinics and workshops with a horticultural twist. Passengers will be able to rub shoulders with top gardening personalities including the country’s best gardener, Graham Ross, award-winning horticulturalist Angus Stewart, broadcaster/author Indira Naidoo and horticulturalists Steve Falioni and Sarah Hamilton.
In addition, veteran journalists Julia Zaetta, Dora Papas and Elle Vernon of Better Homes and Gardens will be sharing their knowledge and experience on landscape design and decorating with cruisers.
Passengers can look forward to take part in gardening trivia, craft classes and lessons in cooking from their gardens. There will also be a special event where passengers will be able to have dinner with Mr Ross who will share his gardening tips on indoor plants, rose gardening, growing native plants, organic pest control, composting and bee-keeping.
The cruise will call at Hobart and Melbourne and will be part of Queen Elizabeth’s record 118-day season cruising Australian waters from November 2020 to March 2021.
In Hobart, passengers will visit the Royal Tasmanian Botanical Gardens and discover 14 hectares of landscaped natural beauty made up of flora from all over the world. They will also visit Mount Wellington, Battery Point, Museum of Old and New Art (MONA) and Salamanca Place to shop at the bustling market.
Prices start from $1399 per person for an inside cabin.
APT’s Botanica World Discoveries will visit Japan and South Korea, exploring the country’s gorgeous gardens, ancient castles and temples onboard the MS Caledonian Sky next year.
The 12-day Cherry Blossoms, Culture and Sights of Japan from Osaka to Tokyo departs on 28 March 2020.
Passengers will enjoy the spectacular bursts of colour from the cherry blossoms during the world famous season. They will also visit the Zen gardens including the world heritage listed Ryoanji. Some of the highlights include a visit to Koraku-en Garden, one of Japan’s most significant gardens – the name meaning “garden of pleasure after” and experience a classic Japanese tea ceremony at a teahouse with garden views.
There’s also a visit to Ritsurin Park, a 350-year-old historical garden famous for its magnificent spring colours and Chrysanthemum Moon pavilion. Ginseng and peony lovers will be delighted when visiting the Yuushien Garden, the 40,000 sq meter grounds with a central pond, waterfalls, streams, stone lanterns, rock garden and a variety of seasonal flowers. Its main attraction is the meticulously-tended collection of 250 types of Japanese peony flowers. Another highlight is discovering the famed Kenroku-en Garden, ranked among the country’s top gardens, famous for its plum and cherry blossoms in spring.
Simon Rickard, former head gardener for The Diggers Club and The Garden of St Erth in regional Victoria, will be guiding the tour. Prices start at $16,590 pp.
For garden and nature lovers, Avalon Waterways is offering a scenic Tulip Time river cruise on the Rhine River to visit Holland’s best kept tulip gardens in April next year. At Rotterdam, garden enthusiasts will be thrilled to see the breathtaking colours of Keukenhof, also known as the world’s “Garden of Europe.” With 70 acres of parkland and lakes, it is one of the world’s largest flower gardens with more than seven million tulips, daffodils, hyacinths planted each year. An expert will travel with passengers who will share his knowledge about botany and the world of plants. Take sometime to relax in the harbour-side in Rotterdam with an artisan beer and a slice of appeltart (Dutch apple pie).
Closer to Amsterdam, passengers will be able to explore Aalsmeer Flower Auction – the largest in the world – where around 20 million flowers are sold every day. The eight-day cruise from Amsterdam will call at Rotterdam, Willemstad, Veere, Middelburg, Ghent, Antwerp before arriving back at Amsterdam.
Prices start from $2613 pp – discounted from $4663.
Vote in this year’s special Readers’ Choice Awards
No doubt 2020 will go down in cruise history as the year of the pandemic – a once in a generation event. And this year’s Cruise Passenger Readers’ Choice Awards will reflect it.