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If you are planning your next holiday, a cruise might not be the first option that springs to mind.
However, with the ability to explore a number of destinations in one trip, a wealth of on-board facilities and the option to do as much or as little as you want while on-board, it is clear to see why this type of holiday is so popular.
If you’re not convinced and feel that cruise holidays just aren’t for you, here are 10 things that might change your mind…
If you’re worried that you’ll be stuck for things to do while on-board and your days will consist of little more than gazing out at the deep blue sea, you couldn’t be more wrong.
Cruise ships are huge floating playgrounds packed with activities, amenities and entertainment to keep you busy when you’re not exploring a wealth of new places on land.
For example, sporty types could get involved with activities such as ice skating , basketball, golf or surfing, or you could use the holiday to attend a lecture or learn a new skill such as photography, drama, cookery or astronomy.
When darkness falls, you’ll be kept just as busy. How about dining in a restaurant run by a celebrity chef, trying your luck in the casino or watching live entertainment? And many ships even have West End shows in huge on-board theatres.
The options are endless – the only problem you may have is fitting everything in!
Traditionally, cruises have been thought of as huge ships that cater for passengers going on long-haul, exotic trips. However, there are a variety of cruises on offer now to suit every taste and budget from small boutique boats that carry around 50 passengers to huge city-style ships with space for more than 2,000 people.
If rolling waves and vast expanses of ocean aren’t your bag, you could opt for a river cruise and take a gentle trip down the Rhine, Nile or Amazon, or even a coastal trip such as exploring the Norwegian fjords or a jaunt around the UK.
If you have a particular interest and want a holiday that immerses you in it, there are jazz sailings and murder-mystery cruises, and even cookery, chocolate-making and Elvis-themed cruises!
Those looking for like-minded passengers to share their holiday with could look into a specific type of sailing such as solo cruises, senior cruises or cruises for those with a disability.
A common misconception of cruises is that they are a holiday option aimed at elderly travellers, when, actually, they suit a variety of ages.
Honeymooners, for example, could opt for a Caribbean cruise and enjoy relaxing on palm-fringed beaches, pampering in on-board spas and glamorous dining in the evening.
And, parents know that the kids will be kept entertained due to the wealth of activities on offer and that they can make friends in a safe environment. Mums and dads get a break by day, and if you fancy an evening on your own, most cruises will let you book the services of a babysitter.
But whatever your age, the big draw of cruises is that they offer a hassle-free holiday. You only have to unpack once despite the fact you are visiting a number of destinations, everything you could need is at your fingertips and you can tailor the holiday to be as active or as relaxing as you want.
You may also believe that cruises are expensive and aimed at a narrow luxury market. However, there are a variety of ships offering cruises for every budget, and research from the Association of Cruise Experts showed that value for money is the main motivation for booking this type of holiday.
Cruise holidays are all-inclusive in the sense that they include your flights, food, trips and a fantastic resort equipped with amenities, meaning that the only spending money you need is for drinks or any extras that you want to take part in (although check the terms and conditions of your cruise holiday before you book). Prices can start from as little as £659pp.
Another worry that you may have is that the accommodation on-board a cruise ship is going to be very confined and claustrophobic.
However, there are various choices regarding accommodation and the option you go for will depend on how much you want to spend.
An interior cabin won’t have a window or port hole, so if you see your room simply as somewhere to lay your head down then this is likely to be the most economical option.
But if you fancy waking up to different scenery every day, many ships are now built to maximise the availability of cabins with balconies on-board and give you your own private outdoor space to relax in – just like a hotel in a beach resort.
Finally, if you’re looking to splash out, a suite is the most expensive and luxurious option. This will offer spacious and plush accommodation for your holiday, often with additional perks such as the services of a butler.
Parents may also have the option of either choosing a family cabin or to go for one with an interconnecting door, offering everyone their own space.
A survey by cruise holiday website Bon Voyage found that nearly three quarters (72%) of non-cruising holidaymakers said their biggest fear about cruises was the possibility of suffering from seasickness.
However, while you can’t control the weather, the sheer size of cruise liners along with their powerful stabilisers help to counter the motion, meaning that the chances of seasickness are low.
If you are unlucky enough to feel ill, you will be able to buy anti-sickness tablets on-board and if symptoms persist, the ship’s doctor should be able to give you an injection to help ease it.
Another concern you may have is the length of time cruises last as many travellers believe that they are only available for long trips.
However, there are a variety of durations you can choose from – from just a couple of nights on a taster cruise from Southampton to the Continent through to more than 100 days on a round-the-world jaunt.
It’s up to you to decide how long you want your holiday to be and exactly what you want from your trip. You might want a short Christmas market break, a two-week Mediterranean cruise or a lengthy once-in-a-lifetime trip.
There are numerous destination areas to choose from when deciding which cruise to opt for and this type of holiday is also a great way to visit places that are slightly off the beaten track and wouldn’t be accessible on a land trip. On a cruise, the world literally is your oyster!
Most itineraries are offered in Europe, such as the Mediterannean and Baltic, and, of course, there are numerous options in the Caribbean.
However, if you want to get a taste of somewhere different then you could could opt for a Middle Eastern cruise where you’ll get the chance to take in places such as Jordan and Dubai, while a South American adventure will allow you to experience the colour and energy of destinations such as Chile and Argentina.
And for something inspirational, you may fancy a visit to magnificent glaciers and stunning national parks on an Alaskan cruise.
If you love the idea of a cruise but would also like to spend a few days relaxing ashore and really getting to know a destination, then you could opt for a ‘cruise and stay’ holiday. This will give you the option to combine the luxury of cruising with a few days ashore, either at the beginning or end of your holiday. Many cruises where you fly to the departure point offer this option.
There is also the option of a cruise-tour holiday. Again, you can enjoy the freedom of the open sea but also a number of nights on land to tour destinations not reachable by ship.
If you don’t like the idea of having to fly to a port to start your tour, there are a number of ports around the UK where you will be able to set sail from.
Travelling from locations such as Southampton, Dover or Liverpool means that you can start your holiday from home soil and not have to worry about the added travel and restrictions of a flight.
This means you won’t have to stick to many airline’s strict luggage rules and, due to their convenience, this will be a great option for families.
Please note: This is an updated version of a previously-published article.
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