Lots of holiday makers are ditching their all-inclusive holidays and choosing to take cruise holidays instead – but why? Impeccable levels of service, loads of exciting activities and impressive prices certainly make them more appealing than the average land-based holiday. If you haven’t cruised before read on to get a good idea of what to expect, what’s included and what to consider when thinking about a cruise holiday…
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Size does matter! Small ships give you an intimate experience, everything is easy to find and you don’t have to walk around much, however you won’t find the big impressive shows onboard, they are usually more tribute band style. The massive selling point of small ships is the destinations as small cruise ships are small enough to get into more ports (big ships can only get into very deep ports). The big ships are the ones with zip lines, rock climbing walls, impressive shows like Cirque du Soleil, kids’ club, running tracks and dozens of bars and restaurants. They hold in excess of 5000 people, but they don’t feel crowded (the lifts get a bit busy during dinner times but that’s the extent of it). There is much more to do so bigger ships are great for travellers with more energy. If you are a first-time cruiser and are in doubt about what ship to pick, go for a medium sized ship (2000-3500 passengers) to get something in between.
Cruises include all meals and snacks (or at least all the cruises we have ever come across and we have been around for 45 years!) There will also be a time table of activities that you have the option for joining in on, these activities will vary greatly depending on the ship and cruise line but could include yoga, games, a creative class or a dance class. All these activities are free of charge. Entertainment will be put on every night which could be a west end performance, a tribute band, a comedy show or magic show, these are generally always free and will be different each night. Most ships will have an early and a late session to avoid crowding. On many of the larger ships you can climb rock walls, ice skate, use the water park and zip line at no additional cost. If your ship has a fitness centre, running track or kids club these will also be included in the price.
What’s Not Included
The things that aren’t included will depend on what ship and what deal you book but speaking in a general sense you can expect to pay for bingo games (a few pounds), spa treatments (the steam room is often free), speciality dining in one of the ships top restaurants if you want to treat yourself to something different, drinks are paid for unless you are on an all inclusive cruise. Performances of Cirque du Soleil (on MSC) are paid for but much cheaper than if you booked to see it at a theatre! Things like the golf simulator and Formula 1 racing car simulator will come at a charge but again its usually under £10. Child care is available on board this will come at a charge. There are photographers that will take photos of you regularly (at dinner, in the evening, when you go ashore etc) you can purchase the photos if you wish. When the ship docks you can go ashore, some ships will be close to a town, but some might offer a transfer by coach which sometimes is free but usually comes at a small cost (about £6 per person).
Is Cruising Just For Old People?
No cruising is for everyone! Some cruise companies have a clientele that is older, some cruise companies are more family orientated and there are cruise lines specialise in couples cruises. Cruises come in all shapes and sizes including: LGBT cruises, party cruises, yoga cruises, expedition cruises – you name it! We can help find you the right ship and cruise line for your preferences. If you take a cruise leaving from the UK, Southampton for example, its likely that the passengers will be older as it’s easier for them not to fly.
Will You Get Seasick?
You won’t get sea sick, cruise ships are huge and not like ferries, you can barely feel the ship moving. If you are at all concerned about this, make sure you pick a medium to large cruise ship – they are like floating cities. If you go on an expedition cruise on a very small ship around the Galapagos for example, it’s often incredibly choppy so yes, you may feel queasy!
Food and Service
Expect incredible cuisine, superb wine and service that you cannot fault. The average cruiser puts on half a stone a week – the food is amazing and plentiful. You finish a big lunch and an hour later it’s time for tea and cream cakes…. Pace yourself! Generally, breakfast, lunch and dinner will be included, plus an afternoon tea and midnight feast. Depending on the size of your ship there is likely to be several restaurants, some of the bigger ships have over 20 restaurants and bars. Many cruises have a ratio of 1 employee to 3 passengers, so the service levels are superb. Crew will even make an effort to remember your name.
Rooms or cabins are generally referred to as staterooms and there are a few types; interior rooms are the cheapest and on the inside with no windows. They are well ventilated and the bonus of these rooms is that when you turn off the lights its complete darkness so you will have the best sleep of your life! Ocean view rooms usually have a small window that you can not open. Balcony rooms have a balcony with table and chairs – if you can get a balcony, do – watching the ocean with a cocktail in hand is heavenly!
Your cruise line will offer several excursions at every destination you visit, these are completely optional (and paid for, unless you take a very expensive all-inclusive luxury cruise). You can also book a tour with a land-based tour company. If you book an excursion with your cruise line, if anything happens that delays your return to the ship, the ship will wait for you. If you book with an external company and there is any delay in getting back to the ship before it departs, the ship will leave without you.
Most cruises over about 5 days have some kind of Gala Dinner or Captain’s dinner. Its just like any other dinner on the ship but you might get to meet the captain, there will be photographers and everyone will be dressed up to the nines! Think long sparkly evening gowns and tuxedos. You don’t have to dress up too much if that’s not your thing – and there are still options for casual dining in other restaurants if you want to avoid this all together. After dinner most people will head to the theatre to watch a show and then end the evening with a dance (which could be anything from a waltzing to dancing in the night club!)
Travelling With Children
If you select a cruise line that focuses on family crises, the kids will be in the element. You can expect to have kids’ clubs for all ages from infants to 16 years, lots of activities, their own play/hangout areas, arcade games and water parks to name a few. Your children can then make new friends their own age and you can get a bit of quality down time in the spa.
How Much Does A Cruise Cost?
Cruise holidays are great value for money compared to land-based holidays as most things are included. Expert cruise blogger, Laura Pedlar, says “In my opinion, a cruise offers excellent value for money. The cruise fare includes your food, accommodation, selected drinks, onboard activities, entertainment and a vast array of facilities that you can use at your leisure. It’s also a cost-effective way of exploring numerous destinations in one trip. This would be very expensive if you tried to replicate the same itinerary on a land-based holiday.” A European cruise (without flights) might cost anywhere from £500 upwards for about 7 nights, a Caribbean cruise including flights might cost anywhere from £1000 for 9+ nights. These are just ball-park prices based on what we have seen recently. See some cruise holiday deals to get an idea what to expect.
Thinking About A Cruise Holiday?
See our latest cruise deals for some inspiration and to get an idea on what is included. We can do all of the searching for you to find the perfect cruise for you, let us arrange everything – at the perfect price. Book today and pay the balance later or in instalments.