Why Choose a Cruise Holiday?
There aren't many holidays where you can go to sleep in one place and wake up in another! A cruise holiday is ideal for people who like to keep things varied and see different places on their holiday, without tiring themselves out in the process. Popular routes are the Mediterranean track covering Spain, Portugal, Italy and Greece, a tour around the Norwegian Fjords, or island hopping in the Caribbean.
Don't forget about your on-board experience; the cruise ship is a destination in itself! Your time between destinations can be spent relaxing by a pool, playing sports, indulging in spa treatments or learning new skills in a cooking or dance class. In the evening guests can enjoy fine dining, bars and shows, and there are always kids’ clubs to keep younger passengers entertained.
What Kind of Cruise Should You Book?
There are countless cruise companies to choose from when booking your cruise, but most focus on a particular niche that will help you to narrow down your options to the liners that will suit you.
Best for Family: Disney Cruise rule the roost for families with young children – the themed play areas and character photo opportunities make for a truly magical experience! Royal Caribbean set themselves apart from the crowd with their wide range of adventure sports and activities for teenagers, and their ships even have ‘adult-free’ zones where kids can get their craved-for independence in a safe environment.
Best for Luxury: Silver Sea offer the ultimate in flawless customer service, with all their staff trained to an exceptional standard. You can expect your bartender to remember your drink order for the whole trip, and some liners even offer rooms staffed by personal butlers. Regent Seven Seas tend to offer completely all inclusive fees that include all food, activities and excursions available.
Best for Older Cruisers: Cunard are the proud owner of the Queen Mary 2 liner, which still preserves traditions like afternoon tea and ballroom dancing in a classically luxurious setting. Fred Olsen liners have a very ‘British’ feel and activities mostly aimed at the more mature taste. Fred Olsen and Norwegian also cater well for solo travellers, providing single person cabins without the astronomical single-person supplement.
Best for Couples: Celebrity liners target the sophisticated cruiser – facilities include wine bars, double pool loungers and on-deck picnic lawns, and because there are very few children on the ships you’ll get a quiet, almost adults-only atmosphere. Princess also caters well for a romantic cruise getaway, with private balcony dining, chocolate tastings, and their trademark ‘Movies Under the Stars’ outdoor film nights.
How to Book a Cheap Cruise Holiday
Ignore brochure prices: Cruise brochures will price their trips at the highest they could be, but unless the demand for the package is extremely high this price will probably drop. Use comparison websites and the sites of the cruise companies themselves to find current, and often cheaper, rates.
Book a guarantee cabin: A guarantee cabin means you reserve the type of cabin you want to stay in (inside, outside, balcony etc.) but not its exact location. If there are better category cabins available when cabins are allocated, you could get upgraded at no extra cost. This is a risk, but a great way to potentially get more than you pay for.
Plan your own excursions: Booking shore excursions through your cruise liner is the easiest way to organise your trips, but they are always expensive. If you do your research before you sail you will find that there are local tour companies offering similar trips at a fraction of the cost, or you can self-guide around the destination using a guidebook or a tourist app on your phone.
Eat smart: Food and drink could be your biggest expense if you give in to temptations! Ignore any ‘alternative’ dining options that are not included in your full board package, and take advantage of drinks specials that will cut the cost of your bar tab. If you order a bottle of wine and don’t finish it you can ask the staff to save it behind the bar for the next evening.