If youʹre currently considering booking a cruise, you might be wondering how it compares to a holiday on dry land. With so much to consider, however, it could seem easier to stick with what you know. Before you make that choice, let us guide you through our top 10 reasons to take a cruise, so you can decide if it will float your boat or not.
1. Getting There
When you choose a no-fly cruise the ʹgetting thereʹ is part of the holiday, which has to be better than queuing at the airport, seemingly endless flights and tedious transfers. In fact, the moment you step onboard your chosen ship, you can start enjoying the facilities right away. Imagine swapping your cramped plane seat and in-flight meal for a sun lounger by the pool, followed by a gourmet meal that you can eat with real cutlery. How could you resist?
When it comes to where to go, the world is your oyster with a cruise. Why choose just one holiday destination when you can visit lots of places? Cruises even have the edge over land-based multi-centre holidays. Thatʹs because you have the most comfortable mode of transport to whisk you between the destinations on your itinerary -- and lots of facilities to enjoy on the way.
A big benefit of in-one-spot holidays is that you get more time in your chosen destination and -- in theory -- more opportunity to explore it. In reality this takes time and organisation. The temptation to stay by the pool with a cocktail in hand can be strong; before you know it, a week has gone by and you havenʹt explored further than the beach across the road.
On a cruise, amazing excursions are usually organised for you by destination experts. Theyʹll identify the best things to see and do in port, so you can make the most of every minute.
If that wasnʹt enough, some cruise lines include some or all excursions in the price of the holiday, which makes for excellent value for money. In fact, Regent Sevens Seas offers free, unlimited shore excursions in every port, so you can explore to your heartʹs content.
If itʹs size that matters on your holiday, itʹs safe to assume that the average four-star hotel room is larger than the average four-star cabin. Although accommodation can vary in size, the norm for a hotel room is around 300 sq. ft., which would be considered huge for cruise ship accommodation (excluding suites, of course).
Rather obviously, the reason for the smaller rooms is that space is limited on a ship. Smaller cabins are a price that has to be paid for accommodating other facilities. To try to give some kind of like for like example, Disney Cruise Line boasts some of the largest cabins in the industry, with the smallest standard inside cabins measuring a very respectable (in cruise ship terms) 169 square feet -- whereas the smallest hotel rooms in an on-land Disney resort measure up at around 260 square feet. The bottom line is, sometimes smaller cabins are a price that has to be paid for freeing up space for all the other facilities that you're likely to enjoy. And it's safe to say that most lines know how to make good use of the space they can offer, coming up with creative space maximising solutions that hotels don't consider.
As with hotels, facilities vary greatly from ship to ship. However, because you'll be confined to the vessel for part of your break, it's likely that you'll give more careful consideration to its facilities than you would a hotel, where you're free to leave whenever you like.
The beauty of cruising is that there are ships to suit every traveller. Lines like Silversea and Seabourn offer grown-up luxury, while Fred. Olsen and Cunard provide excellent enrichment programmes. You can also select adult-only cruises from P&O Arcadia, or all-singing, all-dancing family-friendly voyages from Royal Caribbean, Princess or Carnival. The choice is yours.
We all know that hotel entertainment can be hit and miss, but on cruise ships -- especially the megaships -- itʹs a different story. On Royal Caribbean vessels you can take your seat at Tony Award-winning shows like "Cats" and "Grease," or watch synchronised swimmers and high-diving acrobats make a splash at the Aquatheater. You can even catch an ice-skating spectacular and watch anything from a futuristic Roboshow to a virtual concert in the Two70 entertainment space (ship-dependant).
NCL is renowned for its entertainment, too. For example, on Breakaway you have the Second City comedy club, the Burn the Floor ballroom dancing extravaganza, the Cirque Dreams Jungle Fantasy acrobatic show and Fat Cats Jazz and Blues Club, among others.
Of course, smaller ships have scaled-down entertainment, as youʹd expect with a smaller hotel. Some might not have much more than a pianist providing background music in the evening, but this suits travellers looking for a low-key break.
As with all-inclusive hotels, the quality of the food youʹll find on a cruise holiday varies according to both ship and line. In general, though, cruises are known for being foodie holidays.
As a rule, the number of eateries onboard depends on the size of the vessel you choose. A small ship might have one main dining room serving up four-course gourmet dinners, a less formal alfresco dining option and room service.
At the other end of the spectrum, the number of places to eat and drink on a megaship can easily run into double figures. Royal Caribbean's Harmony of the Seas has 20 different eateries (12 of them are free to dine in), plus a room service option.
Some cruise lines run special foodie cruises, too. P&O, for example, boasts five celebrity chef Food Heroes. On P&O Britannia youʹll find James Martinʹs Cookery Club, while Ventura, Oceana and Aurora all feature Marco Pierre White dining experiences. Plus, on Crystal Symphony and Serenity youʹve got Nobu-trained chefs serving fresh sushi and sashimi.
Of course, the benefit of on-land holidays is that youʹre not restricted to the restaurants in your hotel. Depending on your location, youʹll have your pick of eateries in the area -- although this costs extra and youʹll have to be organised if you want to eat somewhere thatʹs in-demand.
And if weʹre comparing a cruise ship to a comparable all-inclusive hotel, the focus that many cruise lines put on meal times makes them difficult to beat.
This is a tricky one to call. A cruise ship is always going to be at a disadvantage because its staffing levels are limited by the space the ship has to accommodate them, while hotels normally arenʹt. Plus, all crew members and staff live on-site and the work is intensive, with very long hours and little time off.
That said, excellent service is a usually a priority and crew/passenger ratios of 1:2 and 1:3 are typical. Of course, the opportunities to travel the world for free, meet new people and enjoy recreational facilities onboard also go a long way towards the service we expect on a cruise. If you knew your break times could be spent sunbathing, youʹd probably have a good attitude towards work too!
All age groups, from tots to teens, are well catered for on cruise lines like Royal Caribbean, Disney, P&O and Carnival, with fantastic clubs, facilities and activities available. On Carnival Breeze, for example, youʹve got a WaterWorks waterpark, kidsʹ clubs, a ʺSeuss at Seaʺ activity programme, Hasbro the Gameshow, SportSquare, ZSpa for kids, mini golf and more, so your kids are never bored.
The closest comparison to a cruise ship when it comes to kid-friendly facilities is the great British holiday park -- but they canʹt guarantee the sunshine!
10. Tailor Your Trip
One of the biggest plus points to a cruise holiday is that thereʹs something for everyone, making it really easy to tailor your trip. From food-and-wine-themed cruises in the Med and expedition cruises in the Arctic, to walking cruises in Scotland, thereʹs something to suit every holiday whim.
Youʹll also find that different cruise ships are geared towards their core audience in terms of onboard facilities and activities. For example, youʹve got excellent spas on the likes of Costa and Celebrity, craft cruises by Cruise & Maritime Voyages and even ballroom dancing cruises from P&O. Whether you fancy a full-on formal or family-friendly break, thereʹs bound to be a cruise for you.
During on-land holidays, we tend to view our accommodation as a base, because weʹre free to visit any off-site attractions that we like. However, thereʹs much to be said for the convenience of the ʹeverything under one roofʹ approach of cruising, because itʹs a hassle-free way to get the holiday you want.
Call us biased, but we think itʹs pretty obvious that cruise holidays have many advantages over land holidays. Let a cruise blow your usual holiday out of the water and youʹll never want to holiday in any other way!