Which cruise line is right for you? Trying to find the right cruise line for your first cruise? Whatever your taste there’s a holiday for you!
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TYPES OF CRUISES
A river cruise is the ideal for people who want to see a lot of the world in less time and view the scenery and towns passing by while cruising. It is also most suited for people who tend to get seasick and it´s a good alternative to train, car or air travel as you don´t have to pack and unpack your suitcase all the time.
River cruising allows guests to explore the very heart of destinations and Uniworld’s Ganges Voyager II travels from New Delhi to stops including Agra for the Taj Mahal.
Other cruise line like Evergreen, Scenic and Ama Waterways offer specialist wine cruises sailing the Seine, Rhone, Danube, Rhine and Douro, including vineyard visits and tastings, and expert talks.
Modern and chic with fantastic innovations, these cruise lines offer something for everyone.
Big, new modern ships aimed at the mass market, often carrying 2,500 passengers or more. All of these ships will have plenty of dining and drinking options, often West End-style entertainment and be as far removed from the image many people have of cruising that is possible. Note that many of these lines will also be suitable for families.
Classic or traditional cruises are cruises where formal nights, set dinner times, bridge evenings and the Captain’s Table are part and parcel of a fabulous cruise experience and a number of classic cruises will also be adults only.
I you want to have your most stress-free family holiday ever, and also show your children some of the world’s most incredible destinations? Take them on a family cruise.
Many cruise lines are actively targeting the family market with all sorts of touches aimed specifically at children including kids’ clubs, specific entertainment for children, babysitting services and kids’ mealtimes.
Chasing the Northern Lights to exploring Antarctica, sailing up the Amazon river and discovering the wonders of ancient cities, Adventure cruises will take you off the beaten track!
When you sign up to an adventure or expedition cruise it’s very much about the destination – not the ship (except in perhaps two notable exceptions). You also need to be very aware that this type of cruise is not suitable for the very young or very elderly, as many go to inhospitable climates and will involve a lot of land-based activities which can be strenuous.
WHAT TO EXPECT ON BOARD
DINING ON A CRUISE
Allocated tables are available on most cruise ships, with the larger ships having two sittings: “early” at about 6.30pm and “late” at about 8.30pm. For those who want a bit more flexibility many cruise lines also offer flexible “anytime” dining in the main restaurant or you can also eat any time you want when the buffet restaurants are open.
Disney Cruise Line has one of the most innovative systems: passengers are rotated between the three main restaurants and everybody gets the chance to experience Animator’s Palate as well as the magical atmosphere of the other restaurants.
The bigger the ship the more choice there is: Royal Caribbean’s Quantum of the Seas has 11 complimentary restaurants and room service – and 17 speciality restaurants with a cover charge ranging from $3 to $40.
The general rule is that most ships will have one or two main dining rooms plus a self-serve restaurant, which are all free, and mid-to-large ships will have several cover-charge restaurants in addition.
Usually there will be a Broadway-style shows after dinner on the big American ships and something similar to End Of Pier shows on the British ships. If you prefer you can also watch Movies Under The Stars on Princess Cruises, alternative comedy on Norwegian Cruise Lines or do ballroom dancing on Fred. Olsen. Some ships have big screens in one of their lounges, like Voyages To Antiquity’s Aegean Odyssey, while other cruise lines like P&O and Thomson offer pub quizzes and karaoke. There is something to do for everyone depending on what your interest is.
SPORTS FACILITIES ON BOARD
Smaller ships have their advantages – SeaDream Yacht Club’s two sister ships have a water sports marina with glass-bottom kayaks, paddle boards, water skiing, sail boats and snorkelling gear to borrow, all free.
All cruise ships have at least one pool and the bigger ones have three or four – but don’t expect any to be very big: water is very heavy. That’s why splash pools for children are so good (most of the big ships have them) and spas for adults are a blessing.The gyms on large ships are excellent with plenty of equipment for all. Norwegian Cruise Line’s Breakaway has TRX suspension training, Flywheel indoor cycling and Fight Klub. Small ships have just one or two pieces of kit, but even the 50-passenger Hebridean Princess has a tiny gym – plus bicycles to borrow when you go on land.
ACTIVITIES, CLASSES & LECTURES
Guests who are interested in history and culture will have university professors, writers, politicians and experts as onboard lecturers. Some of the lecturers are well-known names, for instance former journalist and politician Martin Bell talked about his experiences on cruise lines such as Hebridean Island Cruises and Voyages to Antiquity, and Fred. Olsen regularly welcomes former politicians and wine experts.
Many of the British-oriented cruise lines like Fred. Olsen have classes in leisure interests such as dance, art, cookery and perhaps computer classes or bridge lessons. There may be a pub quiz or bingo in the lounge. Thomson tends to have actors, sports stars and best-selling writers to entertain passengers, while MSC Cruises has lecturers for long cruises, where there are lots of sea days, and these will range from history and culture lectures to cookery shows, language lessons and dance classes. Royal Caribbean’s lectures are wide-ranging: from art history to photography and nutrition to the US space programme, while Disney Cruise Line uses its staff from all over the Walt Disney empire to give talks.
There are themed cruises too, like P&O’s Strictly Come Dancing trips, with professional dancers and even members of the show’s judging panel.
OTHER CRUISE OPTIONS
CRUISE COMBINATIONS WITH TRAIN & AIR
These cruises are one way cruises in combination with land or air arrangements.
These cruise lines offer outstanding service and stunning ships, and extraordinary itineraries that give you an unforgettable experience in some of the world’s most stunning destinations.
Luxury is not limited to just ocean cruising either. This year also sees the launch of a number of luxury river vessels from river cruise lines including AmaWaterways, Scenic, Avalon Waterways and Uniworld Boutique River Cruise Collection.
Luxury cruise lines know their guests want to spend lazy days relaxing on deck with a cocktail or two, so think state-of-the-art pools, whirlpool spas, private hideaways with comfortable sunbeds, and even the odd putting green.
Holland America’s new MS Koningsdam’s stunning dual-level Lido Pool area features a gorgeous pool, water jets and a trio of whirlpools with a retractable glass roof, and Viking Sea’s stunning glass backed infinity pool extends off the back of the ship for a unique experience that feels like you’re literally swimming out into the ocean.
Winner of the Best Boutique Cruise Line at the 2015 Cruise International Awards, Seabourn continues to innovate with new Seabourn Encore, featuring a marina deck which transforms into a private beach resort with kayaks, pedal boats and windsurfers.
ULTRA LUXURY CRUISES
Ultra–luxury cruises are for discerning travellers who want and expect the very best in service, food and staterooms. From all–suite ships to cruise lines that offer Champagne on tap and your own personal butler, these cruises offer the ultimate in sophistication and style. Want a butler catering to your every desire, a spacious stateroom, the finest cuisine and a boutique hotel vibe?
SMALL SHIP CRUISING
The adventage of small ship cruising is that the ship can get closer to land and also dock right in the harbour. Some itineraries also offer a more personal and adventurous itinerary like the Silversea Expeditions’ Silver Explorer with Cruises from Sydney visit Tasmania, New Zealand, and the Pacific islands of Fiji, Tonga and French Polynesia.
The new Seabourn Encore offers a fascinating 16-day itinerary sailing north from Sydney, taking in the Great Barrier Reef and the Queensland Coast before docking in Bali.
Cruises are a great way to explore the world and cruise lines offer a range of enticing itineraries for LGBT+ travellers.