Cruising is no longer the domain of the elderly, and you won’t need a second mortgage to afford a little slice of the high life; these days cruises cater for everyone, offering everything from fun filled family breaks to romantic sunset sails.
Whether you want to sun yourself by a pool, explore exciting new cities or take part in one of the myriad of activities on-board; a cruise is a great way to take in a whole range of destinations, try out new activities and sample delicious food; all without lifting a finger.
If you’ve never thought of taking a cruise before, now might be the time to get involved. With so many cruise lines vying for your pound, cruises have never been so affordable.
Tempted? Take a look at APH’s guide to cruising and arm yourself with all the facts so you can plan your dream holiday out on the open seas!
Cruises vs. a land holiday; it’s a big decision. Your holiday time is precious, and the last thing you want is to feel like you’ve wasted your time, money or energy. We’ve set out the main pro-cruise arguments below so that you can decide whether you want to set your course for adventure…
-There is a cruise to suit everyone. Cruise ships these days are packed full of activities and on-board excitement, so whatever your tastes you will find something that’ll make you smile.
-Everything you need is in one place; you’ll find great entertainment, delicious food, lively bars and laid back lounges, a whole host of activities and leisure facilities; all at your fingertips.
-Cruises represent great value for money; the prices quoted are often inclusive of things like food, drink, on-board activities and accommodation so you can budget for your trip more easily than you can on a land holiday.
-You can travel to multiple destinations but only have to unpack once.
-The variety and standard of food on-board is incredible, so get ready to spoil yourself rotten!
-Cruises are low-stress; because all the little details are taken care of by the cruise company, there is very little for you to do but plan all the fun you are going to have.
-These vast floating cities have everything you need to survive; most ships these days come with Wi-Fi, satellite TV, shops, medical centres and laundry facilities.
-Cruises are very social; if you want to, you can make friends from all over the world.
-and the most exciting part; you can wake up to a new and exciting destination every day!
There are many myths and legends surrounding cruises, but most of these wild claims prove false with just a little research. We’ve taken the most common myths and blown them wide open, so you can get packing right away…
Cruises are for old folks: No longer the domain of the elderly; cruise lines cater for everyone and are one of the most popular holidays for families and young couples. It’s all about choosing the right cruise to suit your requirements; do your research before booking and check out our guide below for more information on the different cruise lines out there.
Cruises are boring: Don’t think for a second that you will be bored on a cruise; not a moment will go by that isn’t filled with some exciting activity! Take your pick from numerous pools, rock-climbing walls, mini golf, water slides, game shows, spa treatments, lectures, music, karaoke, nightclubs; not to mention all the shore excursions to exciting destinations.
Cruises mean sea sickness: The cruise ships of today are huge vessels, built with stabilisers to reduce movement on-board and cushion you from those pesky waves, so it is highly unlikely that you will get sick while at sea. In the unlikely event that you do feel queasy, the medical centre on-board can offer you free medication that will help.
Some tips for avoiding sea sickness are:
- Take a cruise in the summer months when the seas are at their calmest.
- If you are really worried about getting sick, go for a Fjord or Mediterranean cruise your first time around. The Fjords are inland and very calm and the med offers calm seas for sensitive stomachs.
- Choose a cabin that is in the middle of the ship and on a lower deck.
- Don’t forget to take some over the counter motion sickness pills or wrist bands with you.
Cruises leave you no time to explore ports: Ships plan their itineraries very carefully, to ensure maximum time in the destinations you travel to. They travel at night so that you can wake up in a new and exciting destination, ready for a full day of exploring. Some cruise lines are even starting to offer overnight stays, so you can make the most of your favourite destination. Check with your chosen cruise line to see if they offer this.
Cruises are claustrophobic: The ships of today are so vast in size, you would have to try very hard to feel claustrophobic. With many different venues and attractions, they rarely feel crowded; but if you are concerned about feeling trapped, opt for one of the larger ships.
Cruises are too formal: If formality isn’t your thing, then there are many different kinds of cruises on offer; choose a more relaxed ship and you can avoid having to dress up for dinner altogether. Most ships will have some formal nights which can be all part of the fun, but most nights will be casual.
Taking in the sights and sounds of a city and then waking up the next day to a brand new one, as if by magic; this is the real draw of cruising. There are very few destinations that you can’t visit on a cruise; you can take in Europe, Asia, Australia, North and South America and even the Antarctic, the world is waiting to be explored!
- San Francisco
Europe is a great place to start if you’re new to the cruise game as you can cover a lot of ground in a fairly short time and the seas are calm; plus you have the benefit of being able to depart from a UK port.
The Caribbean is also a hugely popular cruise destination thanks to the gorgeous weather and variety of islands on offer.
Cruises departing from international ports will require a flight; some cruise lines include the cost of the flight in the price, make sure you check before you book!
Top tips for successful cruising
Check out our top tips for first time cruisers…
-Before you book anything do your research; every cruise line and ship is different, so make sure you find the right one for you. Make a list of your priorities; these could be destinations, type of activities, and how much is included to help you make your choice; think about what it is that you want to do while away and this will help you find the right ship for you!
-Go for a cabin that suits your needs best; while a balcony cabin can give you that real cruise experience, if you are not planning to spend much time in your room then this may prove to be a waste of money.
-If you’re brand new to cruising, taking a taster or mini cruise could help you work out if the whole experience is for you, before you fork out lots of your hard earned cash. Mini cruises last from two to four days, and take in two or three European ports. They are a great way to test your sea legs, see how it all works and decide if a longer cruise is for you.
-Plan out your trip; choosing which activates and excursions you would like to do in your ports of call before getting on-board, this will help you make the most of your time and guarantee you will get the excursions you want as you’ll be in a position to book ahead.
-There is no luggage limit on-board so you can bring what you like! Make sure you pack an evening dress or suit for formal evenings.
-Don’t forget to bring your all-important passport, visas, confirmation and on-board account form.
-It can be a good idea to spend the night before your cruise in a hotel; this takes the stress out of your day and guarantees you will make the ship! If you are cruising from Southampton check out APH’s range of hotels at Southampton Port.
-Make sure you have set up your on-board account. Once you board the ship, you will be given your room key which is also used for all on-board charges. You can choose to link this directly to a credit card, pay in full at the end of your cruise, or make cash payments as you go along. Keep this card with you at all times, as you will not be able to get back on the boat without it.
-Get to know the ship; make sure you know your way back to the room. Exploring is half the fun of your first day, but the fun can quickly start to fade if you lose the way back to your room…
-Find out how tipping works on-board; some lines include tips in the price of your cruise, some charge them to your on-board account and some require cash to be handed directly to your server. Tipping can add significantly to your daily spend so make sure you know where you stand before disembarking.
-The ship’s daily schedule is your key to fun; study this every morning to make sure you don’t miss out on any exciting activities.
-Watch out for ‘extras’ as they can add up pretty quickly. Cruises used to be more inclusive, but with lower rates come added extras; these could be anything from premium restaurants to alcoholic drinks, so make sure you know what is included.
-Make sure you read all emails you receive from the cruise line, as these will be important. Print everything you receive as you will need it all!
Choose the right cruise!
Best for families: Disney Cruises
As you’d expect from Disney, family fun comes first! Enjoy Broadway style Disney shows, take full advantage of the myriad of kids clubs while you relax in the adult only pool, or enjoy family friendly food at one of the many restaurants. With exciting features like water slides and Disney movies under the stars, this is a crowd pleaser of a cruise!
Best for luxury: Cunard Lines
Cunard offers classic cruising for distinguished tastes. Harking back to the ‘good old days’ when ships were steeped in glamour and not donning your glad rags for dinner was unthinkable; these gorgeous ships are modern in design but traditional in manners. Expect first class service, fine dining and top excursions to the best destinations.
Best for fun: Carnival Cruises
Relaxed and informal, a Carnival cruise won’t give you a moment to be bored. Choose fun activities like water slides and mini-golf, dine in one of the many relaxed restaurants or just relax by your favourite of the pools on offer and enjoy the good life.
Best for food: P&O Cruises
P&O are Britain’s largest and most modern cruise line. They’ve been sailing the seas since 1837 and take in over 180 destinations worldwide so they know a thing or two about the business. They take food very seriously; every one of their chefs is trained to the highest standards, and they offer a range of options when it comes to dining. From fancy modern food with flair, to tried and tested classics, you will be spoilt for choice while on-board.
Best for activities: Royal Caribbean
From on-board ice-rinks and sky-diving simulators, to rock climbing walls and on-board bumper cars, Royal Caribbean really does push the boat out when it comes to keeping you entertained. Their innovative ships are at the cutting edge of technology, you only have to check out the robotic bartenders on board the brand new Quantum of the Seas to see that they mean business!
Best for something a little different: Viking River Cruises
If taking to the seas fills you with dread but the idea of waking up in a new city every day is highly appealing, a river cruise is an ideal way to get the best of both worlds. Sailing major rivers in Europe, Asia and Russia, these elegant long ships have everything you need on-board; food drink and entertainment. They’re not exactly floating cities like their sister sea ships; but if you’re after a more low key cruise experience, they come highly recommended.