With so many to choose from, it’s difficult to know how topick a cruise line. Most of the best cruise lines claim to offer everything from fine dining and spas to exciting onboard activities and world-class entertainment. The decision, ultimately, comes down to what you want from your voyage, in other words, whether you’re looking for a budget or luxurious experience, where you’re looking to cruise to and whether you’d prefer a smaller, more intimate ship or a compact city at sea.
A first-time cruiser can feel somewhat overwhelmed by the extent of choice, but with these handy tips for choosing a cruise line, you’ll be well on your way.
Cruising with the kids
A voyage on the high seas makes for an unforgettable family holiday. With onboard kids’ clubs, earlier dining times and even onboard child minders, you’ll wonder why it took you so long to take the plunge.
Marella Cruises offers little touches that families appreciate, with family-sized and interconnected cabins, as well as free kids’ clubs that organise behind-the-scenes tours of the ships for little ones. The buffets are also rife with kid-friendly plates like pizza and spaghetti. Plus, some of the shore excursions Marella Cruises offers give kids under 12 discounted rates.
Marella Discovery 2, in particular, is a family-forward powerhouse. She offers outdoor films by the pool, sweetened with hot chocolate, a minigolf course and rock climbing wall, plus the line’s exclusive Babytainment range for cruisers under three and their parents.
Best for over 50s
While there’s nothing stopping you booking a huge, action-packed vessel and ziplining across the top deck, those who prefer a more discerning cruise should take a look at Cunard. Despite only being comprised of three ships, this cruise line’s fleet travels worldwide and offers guests a luxurious atmosphere reminiscent of old-world ship travel.
Cunard’s range of entertainment is geared more toward older cruisers, featuring a range of enrichment classes and lectures. Ballroom dance classes, wine-tasting workshops and programmes lead by special guest speakers are all regulars on the agenda here. The Queen Mary 2 even has her own ever-elegant Royal Court Theatre, where Broadway and West End productions take the stage.
Adventures at sea
One of the biggest perks of cruising these days is the sheer breadth of destinations you can reach. Places that were once thought impossible are now officially on the table.
One such place is Alaska, one of the most mysterious and ruggedly beautiful destinations on the map. Princess Cruises is known as one of the best for Alaskan cruising, offering cruisers an icy window into beautiful Glacier Bay National Park and the US state’s vast wilderness. The shore excursions available are all about adventure too, with white water rafting trips, glacier hikes and treks into Denali National Park for some wildlife-watching.
Another, similarly chilly, cruise destination is the Arctic, where many lines now head. P&O Cruises offers voyages that sail up to a number of destinations in the Arctic Circle, such as Tromso and Alta in Norway. Out there, you can expect hiking and dog sled excursions, snowmobiling and hunts for the Northern Lights.
Best for first-time cruisers
If you’re heading out to the high seas for your first cruise, you want maximum fun and minimum hassle. At this stage, you won’t necessarily know how the cruising game works, so finding your footing will take a little time. But rest assured, it’ll be totally worth it.
A popular cruise line that keeps things simple is Marella Cruises. Their cruises wave the All Inclusive flag where tips and service charges are included – Marella Explorer, Marella Discovery and Marella Discovery 2 even have All Inclusive as standard, which means drinks and dining in at least four specialty restaurants is covered. That way, you don’t have to worry about lugging cash around or settling your bill at the end of your trip.
Marella Cruises also offers a number of voyages to destinations that act as a great starting point for first-time cruisers, such as the Caribbean, Mexico and the Mediterranean. But, if you want to go from zero to 60 on your first cruising adventure, Marella Cruises is expanding their itineraries to the Far East, starting in 2018.
Cruising on a budget
If you can be flexible on dates and are open to suggestions in terms of itinerary, there are some great last minutebargain cruises to be had.
Aside from last minute deals, P&O Cruises offers plenty of ways to save money on your dream cruise. Book an Early Saver holiday and, while you won’t be assigned your cabin until just before sailing, you can enjoy the same cruise at a very competitive price.
Opting for a no-fly cruise is another way to save a few pennies on your cruise holiday. No-fly cruises are ones that leave from your country of origin, thus eliminating the need to fly. All you’ve got to do is rock up on the day of departure and it’s smooth sailing from there. Most major cruise lines offer cruises departing from the UK, including P&O Cruises, Marella Cruises, Cruise & Maritime Voyages, Princess Cruises and Cunard, so you shouldn’t have trouble finding one that suits your holiday needs.
If you’re still looking for inspiration, take a look at our extensive list of cruise lines and individual ships, before booking your dream voyage across the seven seas.
Images used under a Creative Commons Licence.
We are acting as an agent on behalf of travel suppliers and your booking will be subject to the supplier’s terms and conditions. Prices may be subject to very limited availability and are correct as at the date and time of writing. Prices may go up or down from time to time. Prices quoted are for the dates, accommodation, board basis, departure points and number of persons sharing specified only and cannot be combined with any other offer. We reserve the right to amend any quotes given if there is a genuine error as soon as we become aware of it. We reserve the right to withdraw any offers without notice.