The best cruises for photography

Cruises provide amateur photographers with fantastic opportunities to perfect their prowess behind the lens

Multiple stop-offs give access to different landscapes in a wide range of conditions, and many cruise lines offer shore excursions designed with photographers in mind. We’re also seeing more cruises created just for snappers, while a growing number of ships have facilities for guests keen to improve their photography skills. This includes Crystal Cruises, which offers digital filmmaking courses through its Creative Learning Institute, and Holland America Line‘s Digital Workshops.


Whether it’s the pastel-hued houses clinging to the cliffs of Italy’s Cinque Terre or the forest-lined beaches of Greece’s Costa Navarino, Mediterranean landscapes are crying out to be photographed! And then there are its cities. These are becoming increasingly accessible thanks to a growing number of small ship cruises. This includes Viking Cruises‘ Mediterranean Antiquities cruise, which takes in Rome, Florence and Athens. Celebrity Cruises’ Mediterranean sailings are ideal for budding photographers, who can head to onboard iLounges for photography workshops.

A view over the ocean in Italy's Cinque Terre

A 12-day Amalfi Coast and Greek Isles cruise with Celebrity Cruises departs on August 19, 2019. From £2,105 per person (


Wildlife lovers should set sail for this frozen continent, nearly twice the size of Australia. Most cruises depart from South America, which is why passengers often tack on explorations of destinations such as Ushuaia in Argentina. Excursions on board zodiacs (inflatable, highly bouyant boats) make it easy to snap the wildlife, ranging from giant albatrosses to orcas.

Cruises designed especially for photographers include One Ocean Expeditions‘ Antarctic Peninsula Adventure and Circle Crossing Photography Symposium and Hurtigruten’s cruises on MS Midnatsol. At the onboard Explorer Photography School passengers can get expert tuition from professionals.

Emperor penguins with their chicks on the ice in Antarctica

At the right time of year, you might catch Emperor penguins with their chicks CREDIT: GETTY
A 17-day Antarctica and the Falklands Southern Hemisphere Adventure cruise with Hurtigruten departs on October 26, 2019. From £5,567 per person (


Alaska is a favourite destination of the world’s top wildlife photographers. The weather is a big reason – it can change at a moment’s notice, transforming landscapes and drenching its rugged terrain with colour.

And then there’s the wildlife, whether it’s seabirds clinging to vertiginous cliffs or the porpoises sprawled, supermodel-like, on glaciers. Royal Caribbean’s Southbound Alaska & Hubbard Glacier cruise in 2019 includes a photo safari excursion, ensuring over-exposed orcas and blurry bald eagles are a thing of the past.

A seven-day Southbound Alaska and Hubbard Glacier cruise with Royal Caribbean has sailings throughout June, July and August 2019. From £599 per person (

The Galapagos

This is a fantastic destination for wildlife photographers. Top of any snappers’ list should be tortoises and beautiful, red-beaked oystercatchers. Hundreds of ships visit every year, so shore excursions often start early, ensuring no island is over-run with tour groups.

View from Bartolome Island Galapagos

A view of Bartolome Island, the Galapagos is full of photo opportunities CREDIT: ISTOCK

Tauck offers a range of cruises, including the family-friendly Galapagos: Wildlife Wonderland cruise. Passengers on National Geographic Expeditions’ Galapagos Photography cruise will be joined by top photographers to help them line up the perfect shot.

A 10-day Galapagos Photography cruise with National Geographic Expeditions has departures in November 2018 and January and May 2019. From £5,182 per person (

European rivers

A river cruise through Europe is a brilliant way to hone landscape photography skills. Excursions provide perfect opportunities for capturing sprawling vineyards or legend-filled ruins on the banks of the Rhine and its tributaries. The grand Reichsberg castle, for example, dates back to 1,000AD. Meanwhile the Danube’s Wachau Valley, with its rolling hills and picturesque villages can be captured right from the deck of the ship.

Wachau Valley, lower Austria at sunset

The Wachau Valley will provide stunning shots from all angles CREDIT: ISTOCK

Travellers keen to get some great shots should consider their cruise line carefully, and ensure they bag a cabin with great views. Passengers on Avalon Waterways’ Canals, Vineyards and Castles cruise stay in cabins with floor-to-ceiling panoramic windows, which open to create additional balcony-like spaces.

An eight-day Canals, Vineyards and Castles cruise wtih Avalon Waterways has departures from April to October. From £2,323 per person, including flights (


Scandinavia isn’t just about the aurora borealis. Sweden is a postcard-perfect wilderness and Norway has more photogenic fjords than you can shake a selfie stick at. But these gems are much simpler to snap than the Northern Lights, which is why aurora-hunters should consider a specialist cruise.

The Aurora Borealis over the harbour of BergenCapturing the Northern Lights might require some expert guidance CREDIT: GETTY

Passengers should keep their camera to hand on Hurtigruten’s Northern Lights cruises – an in-room radio announces the lights’ appearance. Saga’s 2020 Aurora Explorer cruise is perfect for those keen to return with hard evidence of their sightings – on board photographers will help guests take the perfect shots.

A 17-day Aurora Explorer cruise with Saga departs on February 21, 2020. From £2,538 person, round-trip from the UK (


A growing number of cruise lines offer excursions to Indonesia, allowing guests unbeatable access to its most remote areas, whether it’s Flores’ jagged volcanoes or Lombok’s pristine beaches. Komodo National Park is a magnet for photographers, who come to snap the Komodo Dragon, while Bali, which has its own cruise port in Benoa, has bright green paddy fields and monkey-dotted temples.

A Balinese long-tailed monkey in the Ubud monkey forest nature reserve

The monkeys around Ubud’s temples provide plenty of photo-ready moments CREDIT: GETTY

Intrepid’s new Indonesian Island Cruise whisks passengers to the least crowded islands, allowing them to practice photography skills without dodging selfie sticks. Excursions, including a visit to a sarong-weaving community, provide plenty of material for holiday snaps.

An eight-day Indonesian Island Cruise with Intrepid has departures between June and August 2019. From £2,120 per person (

Telegraph Media Group 2018

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