To cruise or not to cruise………..?

A record number of Britons are taking cruises and 1.5 million Britons are predicted to do so in 2008*. With new ships coming into service, an increasing number of new attractions and something for every budget to choose from, those lazy days of just sitting on deck are well and truly a thing of the past.

Luxury Cruises
At the top end of the spectrum is the traditional luxury cruise, which has twenty four hour on- board entertainment and every conceivable facility with pool and sports zones, spas, theatres, cinemas, restaurants and cafes. If you want the ultimate cruise experience with five star luxury there are companies such as Crystal Cruises to choose from.

Expedition Cruises
Perhaps you might feel like something more adventurous and go for Expedition cruises which may not be as luxurious as you would expect but nevertheless comfortable. Choosing Cruising is a good site to look at. Companies such as Voyages of Discovery go to Antarctica, Greenland and the Arctic, here you will have lectures on board the cruises which are both informative and interesting.

River Cruising
River cruising is a relaxing way to visit and see stunning countryside, fascinating cities and world famous landmarks. For example Page and Moy do a nine day Pyramids and Nile trip, or perhaps a cruise down the Amazon with Fred Olsen is another option. Closer to home, you can explore Europe’s popular cruising trip along the Rhine, visiting the Netherlands, Germany, France and Switzerland.

Budget Cruises
At the other end of the scale for people who don’t want all the ‘extras’, have a more limited budget and therefore want a cheaper holiday, there are budget cruises such as offered on http://www.oceanvillageholidays.co.uk/ which are generally more informal and fun. If these do not appeal, you could always opt for a small ship cruise which visits more remote places where the big ships can’t berth, and are therefore less crowded and ‘touristy’ with (http://www.starclippers.co.uk/) a good site to start with.

What exactly are you looking for from your dream cruise?
Before deciding, you should ask yourself whether or not you want a large ship with a lot of facilities, entertainment and people or would something smaller suit you better? Do you want a child friendly cruise or a more formal experience? Also it is important to take into account what type of weather you are looking for and crucially which part of the world can deliver for the time of year you want to go. Choose your itinerary carefully and think about the places you want to visit. Finally consider cost, as an ‘all inclusive’ package doesn’t necessarily cover everything, so beware of the small print and to find out more Which? is great for providing advice in this area, but remember to gain access to all the information on the website there is a subscription fee.

Check out the total costs
The hidden costs of cruising can add up for example fuel surcharges can add to the cost. With regard to tipping it is advisable to find out what the on-board policy is and a good place to start for prior advice can be found in an article done by the Daily Telegraph earlier this year http://www.telegraph.co.uk/travel/cruises/1176589/Cruise-advice-take-a-tip-on-gratuities.html which gives a good insight into what to look out for. The cost of extras such as alcohol and drinks can also mount up substantially to the overall trip. When contemplating on board casinos – decide on a limit and don’t be tempted to go over it! Shore excursions will also add significantly to the overall cost so it is worth thinking carefully before undertaking these, and Spa and beauty treatments can also be expensive but are occasionally reduced when the ship is in port. To gain good prior advice is a good site to get you prepared in terms of reading reviews of other travellers and their experiences.
Bon voyage!

Ensure you have Travel Insurance!
Whatever cruise you are taking don’t forget insurance! 24/7 Cruise Insurance is a dedicated travel insurance policy especially designed for cruise holidays. It offers excellent cover and competitive rates and you can check out details via this link http://www.247cruiseinsurance.com.


* Source Daily Telegraph 4th June 2008