Over the years cruises have become an increasingly popular holiday options for families with children ranging from tots to teens, couples on a romantic getaway trying to re-kindle their romance or retired folk that want to relax. Now a days there is a cruise to suit anyone’s tastes! There are packages for everyone from range of about 16 different cruise ship companies to choose from the options are endless and prices can start from as little as £300.
Myths and Truths
Many people have many misconceptions over cruises such as fear of motion sickness, whether there will be any activity on a cruise and that they are too expensive to afford.
1) Motion sickness
If you do suffer from motion sickness make sure to take precautions such as drugs or pressure bands. Smaller ships are best avoided if you suffer from serious motion sickness however, in extremely severe cases the ship’s doctor could administer an injection. It is useful to note that ships these days have been built with special features to deal with bad weather. If you are concerned about motion sickness then check with you travel agent when booking as they will be able to best advise you on more calmer routes.
TIP: when choosing the rooms you should always try to get a room in the middle of the ship as this is where there is the least rocking
This rumour is definitely not true as over the years there are now cruises that offer a variety of services. Theses activities include pool games, hobby work shops like flower-arranging and watching all sorts of demonstrations to name a few. Not only that but cruises also offer a range of performances all throughout the day into the night and these can range from musical performances, pool shows and even an ice skating show.
If you are not the activities type then there is always an options to lounge on the deck and enjoy an icy cocktail.
3) The price
People think that cruises are for those that have a lot money but this is not necessarily the case because with careful planning those on a budget can still get the full cruising experience. Try looking for websites that offer discounts or try to go through a travel agent that could get you good deals on cruises. Fred Olsen has 13 mini-cruises, costing from as little as £199 per person, and P&O has added nine short cruises that last for two to five nights visiting the Channel Islands, Belgium and Holland. More lines are luring first-timers by offering shorter cruises such as spending two nights on the Queen Mary as it sails back to Southampton from Hamburg for £399 per person sharing which includes one-way flight back to the UK.
When booking onto cruises there is an option to include an all inclusive food and drinks package if you which are cost effective. It is recommended that you also take some money with you to use other special facilities such as the cafe. Also, when choosing room preference there is a variety of different types of rooms that you can choose from. At first the different room names may sound confusing but there are usually 4 types of rooms: inside the ship, outside the ship with a view, a room with a balcony and finally suite rooms which also include a balcony. Different cruise liners will offer different services so make sure to read up on all the facilities that individual cruise liners offer.
For those whose budget has a “sky’s the limit” approach then you could branch out and try out long distance cruises to places such as America or Australia which last around one and a half months. Also on offer are around the world cruises which price around £16,000 and last for approximately 4 months. If you do have the budget it is a must to try out one of the larger balcony rooms or one of the suites where some rooms even include their own kitchen. Silversea offer each with ocean-view suites with Bulgari bath products, Egyptian cotton linens and a butler service.
TIP: make sure to book early for the best deals!
Different types of cruises
1) For the Family
There are many family friendly cruises that are on offer contrary to popular belief. There are children dedicated cruises such as the famous cruises that Disney offer filled with popular characters from classic Disney fairy tales. Certain cruises will also have separate kids’ areas, although you won’t find any of the luxurious amenities that you find on an adult only cruise there will be a huge range of facilities that include multiple play areas for the youngest cruisers, teen hangouts and discos, kiddie pools, waterslides, arcades and kids-only deck space.
Some lines have partnered with outside sources to offer unique programs, such as acting and juggling classes, hands-on science experiments and DJ training. Children can spend as much or as little time as they want in the kids' clubs, either participating in activities or just hanging out. It is useful to note that the lounges are often closed during meal times and late at night. Families with very small children may also be able to use youth facilities for parent-child playtime. For older kids that need activity Royal Caribbean offers rock-climbing walls, zip-lines, ice and inline skating, surf simulators, boxing rings, and basketball and volleyball courts. Holland America, an elegant mid-size line, has traditionally drawn a more mature crowd by emphasising the classic cruising experience over partying and pushing the adrenaline limits.
TIP: different cruise lines will offer different activities and facilities so make sure you do your research before booking
2) The Romantic
Romance and cruises have always had a long and strong history of going hand in hand. With Hollywood films such as the iconic An Affair to Remember it is very clear that cruises can be ideal for couples that want to go on a romance get away. The onboard ambiance and lifestyle contribute against the background of a stunning sunset can make anyone’s heart beat a little faster. For couples choosing the right cruise might be a tricky one as often you wouldn’t want an over crowded ship or one filled with children that could ruin a calm romantic dinner. Look out for Paul Gauguin Cruises as most rooms come with queen sized beds fit for couples and it is a small ship so you won’t be bothered. For Princess cruises romance has always been the cruise line’s number one focus. This cruise ship offers open-seating, as well as traditional dining with available offers such as the Ultimate Balcony Dining dinner experience with a course by course serving to your room.
TIP: note that the balconies of cruise ships aren’t private but certain lines do have separate private dining options
Those that are looking for relaxation certain cruises also offer a range of spa facilities. You can pamper yourself in a large hydrotherapy pool and a thermal suite complete with fragrant aromatic showers. The traditional approach, found on lines like Royal Caribbean and Princess, is to simply place a spa and salon with a fitness centre onboard. Costa has recently turned part of the cruise ship into a "destination spa," where passengers can immerse themselves in the spa experience. On newer ships there are specially designed spa cabins create a more Zen in-cabin experience with easy access to the spa facilities. Norwegian Getaway and Norwegian Breakaway have an incredible thermal suite which you can get access for the entire cruise simply by booking a spa cabin.
TIP: make sure to book your treatments in advance to avoid disappointment
4) The Adventurer For those that are adventurous and looking for something new there are also a range of themed cruises that can catch one’s fancy. Some cruise companies even offer mystery cruises where the destination and stops of your journey will be kept secret till the last moment. Other alternative themed cruises are Glacier and Galapagos cruises. Lindblad seeks out exotic itineraries in the Arctic, Antarctica, Galapagos, Amazon and other less-mainstream cruise destinations. On its Arctic trips, passengers sail aboard an ice-class vessel that easily slips through frozen passageways populated with polar bears.
5) River Cruises
Over the years river cruises have become increasingly popular to the breath taking scenic routes that some cruise liners take. These types of cruises are available all over the world ranging from the Danube in Germany to the Yangtze in China. Though there was always a market for river cruises in the USA and Europe new routes are being offered all around Asia. These have become increasingly popular and the range of journeys you can take have steadily increased. Mekong cruises offer a window on time-honoured traditions and contrasting Far Eastern cultures as the city of Ho Chi Minh is discovered in a new light.
One uncommon place one would think to take a river cruise is Myanmar's Irrawaddy River but over the past years it has wildly increased. This reflects the Buddhist land’s unhurried pace, as do the centuries-old pagodas and shrines that gild its landscapes. A Yangtze cruise through the spectacular Three Gorges gives a different perspective on China as it passes through 16 provinces in China.
Fly cruises are the best types of cruise that give you the best of both worlds of travel if you want to cruise to more further destinations such as the Bahamas, Morocco and Orlando. Fly cruises are package deals that include flights to the destination you are departing from, hotel costs at the place you are departing from and an all inclusive cruise package. Some packages include extra stay in the place that you depart from which include destinations such as: New York, Orlando, Miami or Barbados. A cruise is an unforgettably amazing experience so if you do decided to try one out remember to always look at the reviews if you are still unsure which one to go for.