Cruising as a Holiday
Cruising is a popular holiday now for all generations and does not have to be the rather formal means of holidaying of the past. Cruise brands differentiate their offers to appeal to as many customers as possible and I can advise you what is the best fit for you and your family. Companies usually specialise in either Ocean or River Cruise, both unique but totally different experiences.
River cruises are like a luxury boutique hotel, and because they are navigating narrow stretches of water are much smaller than the ocean cruise liners, often carrying around 200 passengers . As places are much more limited they can get booked up well in advance of the cruise dates, so if you want a particular boat or itinerary be aware of this. This makes a river cruise much more sociable and intimate than an ocean cruise, visiting smaller cities and towns. There is less on-board entertainment with the focus much more on fine-dining on-board or the evening in port.
Ocean ships are like floating holiday resorts and will typically carry between 1,000 and 5,000 passengers with a huge range of on-board facilities: water parks, tennis courts, fitness and wellness centres, even rock-climbing walls and skating rinks! You can make as many new friends as you wish, or relax and take in the ocean views, with the opportunity of having a snapshot visit to a number of exotic locations with the numerous shore excursions. Accommodation ranges from a small studio cabin for single passengers to penthouse-style suites for the best views. On board entertainment includes quality shows and musicals with many main-stream entertainers having started their careers working on cruise ships.
The first decision is your destination and whether you want to fly to embark on your ship or go from one of the UK ports. If you prefer not to fly you can take a cruise from the large ports of Southampton or Dover, cruising to the Canaries, Portugal or even across the Atlantic to New York.
Flying to your initial point of departure opens up a whole new set of destinations and itineraries, from cruising the Mekong river through Cambodia and Vietnam to whale watching in Alaska. If you fly then you are restricted to the luggage weight limit of your airline, otherwise cruising has no weight limitations.
Once you have a feel for where you want to go we can find a cruise with the itinerary that really ticks all the boxes for your ideal holiday. We use an agents tool that lists every cruise from every port around the world on a day by day basis, so once we have your criteria we can access the data base to search for exactly what you want, and recommend the cruise line that will best fulfil your expectations.
Once you have decided on when and where, then we need to go into the detail of your cruise. What type of room, where is it located on the ship? If you are going to use your stateroom, i.e. cabin, mainly for sleeping then probably a basic inside cabin would be your choice. If you see yourself sitting on a balcony sipping a glass of white wine, whilst coming into port, then an outside cabin with balcony would be what you require, and an inclusive drinks package! Many first-time cruisers ask about the best location for stability for ocean cruises and we would recommend a mid-ship location, although, in reality, today’s ships are fitted with stabilisers so only very rough seas would incur any discomfort.
Once you have chosen a stateroom we can then give you a quote. Most ocean cruise packages include everything, even tips, although this is discretionary and does differ from company to company.
Drinks packages may also be included and are quite often used as an additional promotional offer at key times of the year. On board spend is also often included as a promotional extra. Shore excursions are extra, but these can be booked and paid for prior to the start of your cruise. You can chose to not join a shore excursion but go ashore on your own.
So what did we find for our new cruising clients?
A flight from Manchester to Barbados to pick up The Britannia with P&O, visiting Curacao and Aruba in the Dutch Antilles, Grenada, St Vincent in the Grenadines, St Lucia, Dominica, Antigua and St Maarten in the Leeward Islands and returning back to Manchester from Barbados, after 14 nights on board and 8 beautiful Caribbean destinations visited in an ocean view cabin with balcony. A wonderful journey to see some of the jewels of the Caribbean and a not to be missed first venture into the fabulous world of cruising.
Tracy, Paula, and Jackie can be contacted to offer advice at Tracy Mason Travel, on 01785 712332