Why on board is on trend
Why on board is on trend
A recent survey by the Office for National Statistics found that holiday cruises are now four times as popular with Brits as they were 20 years ago.
Some of this meteoric rise can be attributed to the UK’s increasingly ageing population but the fact is that the cruise industry’s efforts to broaden the appeal of cruising are paying off.
Itineraries are now hugely varied covering a huge swathe of the world’s rivers and oceans, and holidays vary in length from a weekend mini-cruise to world cruises that last a third of the year and more. And, on many of these cruises, guests can dip in and out by just purchasing a segment of between 1 and 4 weeks.
Themed cruises abound with specialist voyages aimed at families, music lovers, sporting enthusiasts, gastronomes, singles, history buffs, nature lovers and naturists amongst others.
The food, facilities and entertainment available on cruise ships has also shot up in standard and is more varied than at any other point in the industry’s history. Virtually every dietary proclivity is catered for and cruising attracts the hottest chefs in the kitchen including James Martin, Marco Pierre White, Atul Kochhar, Nobu Matsuhisa, Jamie Oliver, Andreas Viestaf, Guy Fieri, Thomas Keller, Norman Love and Curtis Stone.
A staggering array of activities and entertainment is laid on for cruisers; everything from cookery classes, spa treatments, theatre shows, sky-diving, open air cinema, waterparks, lectures, dances, social mixers, croquet on a real top deck lawn, climbing, high-tech gaming, to west end shows and live music – and that’s without the port stops and shore excursions.
The other reason why more people of all ages are choosing to cruise is that in many ways cruising is preferable to a traditional land-based vacation. Here’s why:
Sail from UK shores
You know that horrible, panicked rush to the airport and the tedium of pre-flight security checks which can make the start of your holiday a stress-fest? With cruising you can simply turn up at the port, step aboard and your holiday starts there and then. You can be on the ship in minutes – and in the pool with your first cocktail moments later.
Pack it all in
With cruising you only need to pack and unpack once to visit multiple destinations as your ship becomes a floating hotel that sails from port to port, leaving you free to explore. Even better, there are no luggage restrictions on ships – so take as much as you want, as long as it fits in your cabin.
Into another world
Whether it’s Antarctica or the Arctic, the wilds of Patagonia, around Cape Horn or the exotic uninhabited islands of Indonesia, cruises can take you far off the beaten track into the world’s remotest regions. Fancy the Amazon or want to see Europe from a fresh perspective? Book a river cruise.
Take to the sea for a taster
If the thought of spending at least a week on a ship has you scuttling for cover, stick a toe in the water and try a mini-cruise of just a few nights. Sailings to Amsterdam, Zeebrugge (where you can pop to Bruges) or Le Havre will give you a flavour of life at sea. These short, taster cruises are also an imaginative way to mark a special occasion like a birthday or anniversary.
Just add water
From cheese and wine to sunshine and lollipops the world loves a pairing. The cruise industry has cottoned on to this and now offers ‘cruise and stay’ and ‘cruise and fly’ options for those wanting a surf and turf holiday. Partnerships have also grown between cruise lines and other holiday operators with bolt-on breaks now de rigueur.
Popular options are to visit Florida’s theme parks before sailing to the Caribbean; combine the wonder of a Yangtze River cruise with the big city thrills of Shanghai and Beijing; mix the heady heights of Machu Picchu with a jungle-filled voyage along the Amazon River.
You can also relive the romance of rail travel by taking the Venice Simplon-Orient-Express through the Alps to Venice to join your cruise; jump aboard Eurostar and let it speed you to Paris for a river cruise along the Seine; or ride the Rocky Mountaineer train through the Canadian Rockies to Vancouver and sail to the remote wilds of Alaska.
Words: Sarah Glayzer and Sara Macefield