Why go Cruising when there are so many other kinds of holiday to choose from? We asked Scott Anderson, general manager of The Luxury Cruise Company (www.theluxurycruisecompany.com) and occasional contributor to this website. Here’s his reply:
Cruising has never been more popular. We expect 1.7 million UK residents to take a cruise in 2012 – a figure that has more than doubled over the past 10 years. So what is driving all these people on to cruise ships? Just what is it that appeals to British holidaymakers?
Value for money. The cost of your cruise will not only include your accommodation, but all your food and onboard entertainment too. Some cruise lines will also include all your drinks, and others all your shore excursions as well, allowing you to really budget upfront, as once onboard you won’t have to pay for anything else.
The quality of the food is excellent, and the entertainment is often of the standard which you would find in the West End or on Broadway. But its not all musicals and jazz bands: a lot of today’s cruise ships offer high-octane shows, including Blue Man group, Aqua Shows, Cirque du Soleil style circus shows and even their own productions of Hairspray or Chicago!
Destinations. You can wake up in a different country every morning, and only have to unpack once! Cruising offers you the chance to see a new place every day – and you dock close to city centres too – perfect for exploring and discovery. You are usually in port all day, allowing you plenty of time to explore the destination, either on your own or on one of the ships organised excursions. Some cruise ships stay overnight in port, offering you the opportunity to enjoy the nightlife while using your ship as a floating hotel.
Where can you cruise? If it’s got a coast you can pretty much cruise there! From the UK you can cruise to Scandinavia, round the coast of Britain, to the Canary Islands, the Mediterranean, Caribbean and even New York. Durations range from 3-day taster cruises to longer trips – even round the world cruises lasting up to 115 days!
Cruises depart from many UK ports, including Southampton, Dover, Portsmouth, Harwich, Newcastle, Rosyth, Greenock, Belfast and even Liverpool. And its not just Cunard and P&O Cruises that set sail from British ports: large US-based companies are sending their new ships over to our shores to tap into the growing UK market. Cruise lines like Royal Caribbean International, Celebrity Cruises, NCL, MSC, Princess Cruises, Holland America Lines, Oceania Cruises, Silversea, Seabourn, Regent Seven Seas Cruises, and more all offer cruise holidays from a UK port.
Or you can fly to the embarkation port and sail from there – in the Mediterranean these are likely to be Barcelona, Nice, Venice, Athens, Istanbul, or Rome, all perfect cities for a day or two pre-cruise stay. For Brits the Mediterranean and Scandinavia are the most popular destinations, followed by the Caribbean.
Service. All the cruise lines pride themselves on offering exemplary service. Waiters are well trained and personable, your cabin steward miraculously tidies and cleans your room, the bar staff and stewards soon get to know your name and preferred drink – it all adds up to a very convivial and welcoming atmosphere.
Families – If you want an incredible value-for-money holiday where all generations of the family are accommodated, then look no further than a cruise. With cruise lines sailing from the UK there is no airport hassle, just drive down and jump on. The onboard youth counsellors will entertain your kids with fun, games, treasure hunts and more – allowing parents to spend quality time together, and the kids get to make new friends, all in a 100% safe and secure environment. For a lot of families this is the only chance for all members to be together – they can all do their own thing during the day and meet up in the evening for a gourmet meal to discuss their day’s activities! Stress free and relaxed.
Adventure. For those looking for a more adventurous holiday then there are expedition cruises taking you round the coast of Borneo, to the deepest parts of the Amazon, to the Arctic to see polar bears, or down to Antarctica to discover the great white continent. With a cruise the world really is your oyster.
All this cruise activity is great for the economy too: the cruise industry generated direct expenditure of £2.28 billion last year in the UK, up 10.2 per cent on 2010.
I am a strong believer that there is a cruise for everyone. If the person is matched with the correct cruise line, then they are more likely to choose a cruise as their annual holiday over anything else! Ensure you talk to an experienced, unbiased professional cruise consultant – and start looking forward to your holiday at sea.
Contact Scott via www.theluxurycruisecompany.com, or visit http://www.theluxurycruisecompany.com/luxury-cruise-blog/ Twitter: @LuxuryCruiseCo. Telephone: 0845 643 1878, or direct line: 01273 311870. Fax: 01273 732537