Want some reasons to go cruising? Here are 10! From amazing sights to bargain cabins and avoiding airport hassle, why sailing should be everyone’s passion
Last year, record numbers of British people bought a cruise holiday. In 2017, nearly two million took a cruise, an increase of four per cent on the previous year.
Compared with ten years ago, the business has grown by a third.
Given the amount of cruise advertising and promotion that goes on (I seem to get a daily letter from luxury company Silversea, which is clearly keen to keep my interest piqued), it would be easy to believe the whole of Britain is heading somewhere on a cruise ship.
Shining examples: You could take a cruise to visit the Turks and Caicos Islands
In fact, cruise holidays account for 11 per cent of overseas package holidays, a percentage that has remained fairly constant for the past few years.
Cruising continues to grow with the introduction of new mega-ships. Royal Caribbean’s new 230,000-ton Symphony of the Seas is more than 3,000 tons bigger than the previous size leader in the cruise world, making Symphony the world’s largest cruise ship. Meanwhile, Saga is building the only small ship for the British market, Spirit of Discovery.
The inaugural cruise around the British Isles will depart Dover next July. And new operators are coming to the market. The next newcomer will be Sir Richard Branson’s Virgin Voyages in 2020, which intends to reach a younger audience with a new style of eco-friendly cruising.
It is probably not surprising, however, that the average UK holidaymaker has failed to register the extraordinary innovations taking place. Most tend to exist within a holiday ‘bubble’: once we’ve found a holiday type that works for us, we stick with it. A holiday is such a fragile plant – particularly for family groups – that the idea of undertaking a new style of trip, such as cruising, may seem a risk too far.
Increasingly, holidaymakers want a special experience on their trip away. Cruising offers a wealth of moments, such as being treated to the Northern Lights
Someone who has never been on a cruise will happily inform you a cruise ship is like a floating holiday camp where passengers are excessively regulated; your attendance is expected at swimming pool fun and games; and evenings are for beetle drives and other activities, which passed from popular culture in about 1952.
In truth, cruising offers one of the most sophisticated forms of a package holiday that you can buy. Far from supplying the lowest common denominator of food and fun, cruising – even its most affordable forms – aspires to a highest common factor of style and elegance.
How can you be convinced a cruise is the holiday that you’ve been looking for? Ultimately, it will come down to you having the confidence to book and give it a try. Here are ten reasons why you won’t be disappointed.
1. Astonishing value: A cruise is the all-inclusive holiday par excellence. Most fly-cruises departing from a foreign port are likely to include flights from the UK to your embarkation port and a return journey. Also included will be three meals a day and entertainment – it may also include drinks and tours.
2. So much to see: Many cruises, especially in the Mediterranean, offer a different place every day: imagine every morning a new port, in a new country, to greet you when you throw open your cabin curtains.
Cruise-goers can capture some wild photographs while sailing by Stromboli volcano at night
3. So much to do: If visiting a new place is not enough, today’s ships are packed with gyms and health spas, sports and games, classes on wine-tasting to art appreciation, quizzes and professional shows often featuring cut-down versions of West End hits.
4. Family fun: If your children say they don’t have enough to do on holiday, a cruise is the perfect answer. Not just lots of other people of their age to play with, but lots of fun with kids’ clubs for all ages. If your children are happy, you’re happy.
5. Want to avoid airport hassle? If you’ve been put off a foreign holiday by the aggravations of airports and airlines, then take a cruise from a UK port – more places are available all the time, not just Southampton but also Liverpool, Dover, Tilbury and many more.
6. Unforgettable moments: Increasingly, holidaymakers want a special experience on their trip away – something that can be tweeted or Instagrammed. Cruising offers a wealth of moments: arriving in New York at dawn, gliding by the Statue of Liberty; being treated to the Northern Lights; or sailing by Stromboli volcano at night.
7. Romantic adventure: A cruise is the perfect trip for two people in love. (‘Oh, Jerry, don’t let’s ask for the Moon,’ says Bette Davis’s lovelorn character in Now Voyager, ‘we have the stars.’)
Big is beautiful: The ‘Boardwalk’ area of the vast Symphony of the Seas
8. Something to suit you: There are dozens of operators serving different tastes and pitching at different prices. Some will be family-friendly, others appeal to older couples – some will be luxurious, others offer a less sophisticated ambience. What will surprise you is that the cost of taking a luxury cruise – with the services of a butler, for example – will be much cheaper than you expected. Five-star hotels are the preserve of a well-heeled elite; five-star cruises are much more keenly priced.
9. There’s always a bargain: Cruises are a perishable commodity: any cabins unsold when a ship departs represents a permanent loss. It’s not just the price of the cabin – there is also the loss of what the passengers would have spent in the bars, casino, shops and on excursions. Therefore, companies do all they can to fill every sailing.
10. Researching and booking your cruise is fun, with lots of internet sites – cruisecritic.co.uk, for example – packed with insider information and advice from regular cruisers.
For further information, advice and ideas about booking a cruise, visit the CLIA website cruiseexperts.org.
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