Is a Cruise for the Landed Gentry?

Linda Hill Miller

When many of us think of cruising it immediately conjures up the thought of unaffordable luxury. In years gone by, cruising was only for the rich and famous, however, that is no longer the case.

Cruising is the fastest growing sector of the travel industry and if you have already cruised and are in the ‘converted club’ you will know why. But if you still think it is for old people or that it is too expensive then, in this issue, we are going to dispel the myths that many of you have.

There is a ship for everyone. The key is to pick the right ship. When choosing, there are a few key factors to consider. The destination is paramount, followed by when you want to go and then how much you want to spend. There is a cruise for every budget including mainstream 4-star ships, an array of 5-star, and some ultra-luxury 6-star ships.

In cruising, size really does matter so again choosing the size of ship is so important. There are small intimate boutique-style cruise ships taking only a few hundred passengers, and then there are the ultra-ships which take up to 7000 passengers, so you can see why choosing the right ship is vital.

So, let’s talk about some of the myths.

You are generally never more than a day or two from a port, and there need never be a dull day onboard. Bigger ships have everything from ice-skating rinks to basketball courts, dodgems, indoor skydiving and surfing at sea. There are also West End-style shows, casinos, cookery courses and classes in everything from astronomy to Zumba. You will also find world-class spas and gyms on most ships. There are even ships with their own helicopter and a submarine.

Gone are the days when the ships were just for old people. There is way more to do than ballroom dancing with a dance host and a game of shuffleboard. Many of the ships now are very family focused with incredible kids’ facilities. There are ships with bionic bars, ice bars and dancing under the stars. There are some specific cruise companies aimed at the ‘Silver Market’ so again, choosing the right ship is crucial. One of the biggest growth markets we are seeing is in the family market as cruising really does have the full package for families and is perfect for a multi-generational holiday.

There is a long association with cruise ships being all about ball gowns and tuxedos but as the market has grown this has changed and many ships have a much more relaxed dress code. Even on some of the high-end ships they have a ‘no jacket required’ policy. Many ships will have a host of dining experiences, so you can have everything from French fine dining to a pizza and lots in between. Another myth is that all you do on cruises is eat and drink and whilst this is an option, many of the ships offer great heathy alternatives and the chance to do a health reset in way of diet and exercise, with all the experts on hand.

If you compare what’s included in your cruise fare with a good 4-star all-inclusive hotel in the Mediterranean, you will see how cruising can be exceptional value for money. The market is growing at such a pace and there is so much competition that prices have been driven down. Booking early will always be the best way to ensure a good discount and in some instances, FREE child places.

There are many more myths but the advice is to try it and see for yourself why a cruise is the most fabulous holiday experience and one that you will repeat. Cruising is addictive… once you have tried it, you will be hooked.

Finally, a great onboard tip: if you are on a cruise and they offer deals to rebook, you can sign up and not choose the cruise till later. This is called an open deposit and allows you additional benefits when you come to book. And the great thing is, the booking goes back to your travel agent.

Happy sailing in 2023!