Want to match your cruise with a festival or sports fixture? These combinations promise fun and relaxation during the coming spring and summer.
Famous for its street parades, the Mardi Gras celebration is best experienced in New Orleans, where the “krewes” – social clubs – have been organising this extravaganza since the early 18th century.
Leading up to the beginning of Lent, this year’s festival culminates on March 5, although the few days before will deliver eye-popping displays of elaborate costumes, masks and floats.
Celebrity Cruises offers a voyage that sails from Fort Lauderdale and spends two nights in New Orleans, while Carnival, Norwegian Cruise Line and Royal Caribbean are also in town during the festival.
Or you could follow your partying with a Mississippi river cruise (americancruiselines.com).
Amsterdam residents don’t paint the town red on King’s Day. They turn it bright orange. Celebrating the birthday of King Willem-Alexander of the House of Orange, this city-wide festival features a decorated boat parade on the canals, a huge flea market, food stalls, kids’ games and live bands. Attendees wear as much orange as they can muster. The date is April 27, although the festivities start the day before. Combine your city break with a river cruise south down the Rhine. Cruise agents can suggest the best match-ups to coincide with the festival.
Also in April: this year marks the 70th anniversary of the brilliant display of bulbs in bloom at the gardens of Keukenhof in the Netherlands.
There is an excellent choice of river cruises from Amsterdam that include a visit to this springtime spectacular.
The Monaco Grand Prix, the most glamorous of the Formula One fixtures, takes place in the narrow streets of Monte Carlo, with cars whizzing past the super-yachts in the harbour. Its tight corners and close-up views make the circuit one of the best for spectators.
Watch Lewis Hamilton battle his rivals during a Mediterranean cruise. SeaDream Yacht Club, Star Clippers and Crystal Cruises will all have ships docked in Monaco on the big day, May 26; while Fred Olsen and Azamara Club Cruises – which will have ships in nearby Nice – offer voyages with grandstand tickets for the Grand Prix.
Also in May: if you prefer tennis to motor sport, the French Open starts at the Stade Roland-Garros in Paris on May 26. Follow up a visit to this star-studded event with a river cruise on the Seine.
For two months each summer, locals and visitors enjoy the long evenings – known as the White Nights – of St Petersburg on Russia’s Baltic coast. This festival features various forms of entertainment, including ballet and rock concerts, but the star attraction is Scarlet Sails – an extravagant display of fireworks and lasers on the River Neva, culminating in the appearance of a handsome ship with red sails. The 2019 date will be confirmed in February, but June 22 is a good bet. Combine this with a river cruise on the Volga, to or from Moscow. Most ships spend at least two nights in St Petersburg.
Also in June: the maritime-infused Kiel Week festival takes place from June 22-30 in the city next to the German canal. MSC and Costa Cruises are both due to have ships in port.
Wandering through Tallinn is like stepping back hundreds of years – and even more so from July 4-7, when the delightful Estonian capital holds its annual Medieval Days festival. Knights joust and troubadours, minstrels and jugglers entertain visitors in the handsome Town Square. There is also a medieval market. Within the city’s ancient walls are handicrafts workshops and musical performances.
Several cruise lines will be docked nearby – Holland America Line, Viking, Celebrity, Fred Olsen, Costa and Regent Seven Seas.
Also in July: England’s football team stands a great chance of making the semi-finals or final of the FIFA Women’s World Cup, held in Lyon on July 3, 4 and 7 – Scotland has qualified too. A host of river cruises start from this French city.
It’s not just comedians – the Edinburgh Festival Fringe features many types of performing art including theatre, cabaret, dance and opera. It runs during most of August, when more than 50,000 performances across 300 venues are expected.
The festival ties in with the Royal Edinburgh Military Tattoo, which takes place outside the city’s castle every day except Sunday from August 2 to 24, although you’ll need to be in the city in the evening.
A wide range of cruises call at Edinburgh’s Port of Leith during the festival, or book your place on Cruise & Maritime’s Summertime Fjordland voyage, which departs nearby Rosyth on August 23.