There is only one way to really know if you would enjoy a cruise holiday and that is to take a cruise. The stigma’s associated with cruising such as; it’s for the older generation, you will get sea-sick and its claustrophobic, are simply, not true.
Yes, some cruise lines do attract an older, more traditional cruise line passenger. However, your travel agent should be able to advise you on the most suitable cruise line company to use, matching your requirements and wishes.
Yes, some people do get sea-sick, however modern ships have stabilisers which have dramatically reduced the movement on board and with modern technology cruise ships can avoid dramatic weather events. In addition, today there are excellent remedies available that can deal with motion sickness.
The sheer size of today’s cruise ships and the access to open decks, massive event areas and open atriums, not to mention the privacy of a balcony room, should not leave you feeling claustrophobic.
Modern cruise ships compete in an ever-growing market which is becoming more geared towards different niche markets including; family holidays, wildlife adventures, group travel, single travellers, tours, multi and unique destination holidays.
Here are our twelve reasons for selecting a cruise holiday:
1. Multi-centre destinations. You can visit many different locations during a single holiday. What I love about this is that you can get a quick overview of a destination and then decide if it is somewhere you would like to revisit at a later stage.
I had never really pushed Rome to the top of any of my ‘bucket lists’. I always knew I would get there one day, but it was not a priority. On a recent cruise in the Med we took a transfer from the Civitavecchia Port into Rome and spent the day exploring this awesome city. We will be back soon, Rome is awesome.
On the same cruise, we visited Genoa. We found Genoa had some interesting and amazing historical sites but it was dirty and there were a lot of unsavoury looking characters lurking around. My advice would be to use the port to visit another nearby city, town, or attraction. Milan is easily transferable, Portofino and Camogli are nearby, and in my opinion, offer better excursions.
Tip: If you prefer organised sightseeing there are various excursions organised by the cruise companies. Excursions offered by the cruise company are normally more expensive but the advantage is that, if the tour is late, the ship will not sail without you.
We tend to use ships transfers when the destination is out of the port area but do our own tours. For example, Livorno Port to Pisa is around an hour transfer, so we used the ships transfer service but did our own tour of the city.
For Barcelona, for example, you dock in the city, use ports shuttle bus (4 Euros return) and explore the city by yourself. It does entail a lot of walking but you can use the metro and trams, which makes it more manageable.
2. You know the cost. Most cruise lines offer ‘Full Board’. Your accommodation, food and entertainment are all included in the price, so you know what you are paying for your holiday. Just remember that often gratuities, alcohol, soft drinks, speciality dining and coffees, the spa and certain activities and events may not be included. So double check what is included so you don’t get any unpleasant surprises.
Some cruise companies now offer ‘All-Inclusive’ packages with your gratuities and alcohol included as well. This for me is the best option as there are no surprises at the end of the cruise.
Tip: Check your bill at reception periodically so you keep track of what you are spending.
If you are on a tight budget the inside cabins are the most cost effective and to be honest you will probably spend most of your time on-board the ship or exploring a destination on port days.
3. You unpack once, get settled in, and your free to enjoy your cruise vacation. No more packing and unpacking. You can bring additional home comforts along, there are no baggage limitations, when you set sail from a local port.
Tip: Check your luggage allowance, if your holidays include any pre or post cruise flights you will be limited by the airline luggage allowance.
4.You have so much variety and choice that no two days need ever be the same. The cruise ships operate in a competitive market and they seek to entertain guests to offer the best possible ‘customer journey’. Most cruise ships will have an action-packed day offering you lots of entertainment options.
Tip: Check your cruise daily ‘paper’ or a ‘phone app’ (depends on cruise ship) for keeping up to date with information about what is happening on-board.
5. Glorious Food. Most of your main cruise lines today have taken their food offering to a new level. Many showcase celebrity chef restaurants (normally a cover charge applies) alongside their traditional dining and buffet restaurants, cafes and other outlets. We have found the quality of the cuisine on the cruises we have enjoyed are usually of a high standard and offer good quality.
Cruise ships will offer food 24 hours a day through their various food and beverage outlets. Most cruise ships offer various restaurants, including buffet, traditional dining, anytime dining, afternoon teas, snacks, room service and special events.
Many cruise ships now offer speciality restaurants set up and managed by celebrity chefs. Expect, Jamie Oliver on some Royal Caribbean cruise ships, James Martin, Marco Pierre White, Atul Kochhar, Eric Lanlard and Olly Smith are regulars on P&O cruises. The celebrity chefs will also sail on selected cruises and often offer cooking demonstrations and classes. So, if cooking is your passion, look out for those cruises featuring celebrity chefs.
6. Fantastic Family Holidays. If you have kids, a cruise holiday is fantastic for many reasons. The cruise ships have excellent kid’s clubs allowing you the freedom to enjoy yourself while the kids are being entertained. The kid’s clubs are arranged around different age categories, normally accommodating children from 2 – 4 years, 5 – 8 years, 9 – 12 years, and 13 – 17-year olds.
The norm is that the kids hate been dropped off on the first day, but from then onwards, need to be dragged out, they love it so much. Another big advantage is that the kids all arrive on the first day together. The clubs are full of activities and host lots of events aimed at the specific age bracket and managed by trained staff. This allows you a break to enjoy the pool, a show or just chill out. Baby-sitting facilities allow you to enjoy an evening out.
If you would prefer a cruise with less children around and you have the luxury of choosing a holiday out of the school holiday periods, then opt for that or choose an ‘adults only’ ship. You will find that the cruises are most cost effective outside school holidays and clearly fewer kids will be onboard.
7. The service is outstanding. Staff are trained at making your cruise as memorable as possible, the cruise ships want repeat business and the best way to secure that is by making your cruise as impressive and memorable as possible.
Saying that, we have found that some cruise lines do have better trained and more friendly staff than others. The company’s culture, recognition and reward schemes clearly attract the better staff to certain cruise companies.
8. Relax and re-charge your soul. The cruise is yours to enjoy as you want. You could simply relax every day at the pool, on deck, relax in your room or the library or participate in as many activities and events as you wish. You decide your own pace and activities.
9. Make new friends. With lots of like-minded people on-board your cruise ship you have an excellent opportunity to make new friends. Whether you enjoy the theatre, the bars, the nightclub, the sports, the various game shows or simply enjoy soaking up the sun around the pool, there will lots of others you can interact with.
Tip: As a solo or even a couple at most restaurants you can request to share a table and that way make new acquaintances at every meal.
Likewise, should your reason to cruise be to self-reflect and be by yourself. You could quite easily just do your own thing every day. All the ships have fabulous spa’s, library’s, and coffee shops to chill out in. We would suggest that if your reason to cruise is to be by yourself then consider taking a balcony room, affords you more privacy on your own private balcony.
10.Celebrate an Occasion. As a couple or a group of friends, a cruise holiday is an ideal way to celebrate a special occasion. A cruise holiday offers you flexibility and choice. You can enjoy a romantic getaway, dine for two and have your own private holiday or travel as a group and enjoy the host of activities and events, as well as, the pubs, restaurants and shows.
11. Great Value for Money. When you calculate what included in your cruise holiday you will be pleasantly surprised at the value for money a cruise holiday offers. Off course there are peak holiday seasons, like all other travel products and services, when the costs are higher. But this is generally true for anywhere you travel during the ‘high season’.
When you calculate the value of cruising, include the following: comfortable, fully serviced accommodation, unlimited food at various restaurants and other food outlets, onboard entertainment, including game shows, theatre shows, movies, presentations.
Tip: If you are not on an ‘All-Inclusive’ package (most cruise lines do not offer this option). Check to see what alcohol packages may be on offer. It is often worth buying the package as it will normally afford you substantial savings.
The majority of cruise line companies exclude gratuities and alcohol. I find this an irritation as you need to then factor in an additional cost at the end. And let’s be honest, when you are on holiday, you are going to enjoy yourself and the cruise ships are normally not shy in charging a pretty steep price for alcohol.
Onward to my last point.
12. Cruise ‘All-Inclusive’. The great news is that some cruise lines are bucking the trend and offering ‘All-Inclusive’ cruising.
In the 5-star category, for example, Crystal Cruises offer an ‘all-inclusive’ rate. Crystal Cruises is a fantastic brand and the quality of their product and services is truly ‘top-class’. Lovely ships, fabulous staff, great itineraries, and glorious food. If you have the budget, Crystal Cruises will not disappoint. We would highly recommend looking at their itineraries to see if they are offering a cruise that would suit your travel plans.
Probably my favourite cruise line company operating in the ‘mainstream market’, what we refer to as ‘4-star cruising’, is Norwegian Cruise Lines (NCL). The great news is that NCL now offers an ‘All-Inclusive’ rates which includes alcohol and gratuities, Hooray!
For my money, I find Norwegian Cruise Lines the best deal going right now, especially if you enjoy a few alcoholic beverages. I want to know what my holiday will cost, up front, with no surprises at the end. I do not want to even think about the bill, I just want to enjoy my cruise. For this reason, currently I recommend Norwegian Cruise Lines as my first choice for that awesome cruise holiday.
If you have never cruised, try it. There are many different itineraries, try a 5 or 7-day cruise and make sure your travel agent matches you to the most suitable cruise available.
Expect your travel agent to ask a lot of questions, they simply cannot recommend the most suitable cruise vacation for you, without knowing what you want.