While many cruises mean having to catch a flight for at least part of your journey, a no-fly cruise offer a hassle-free straight-onto-the-ship alternative that appeals to many. With hundreds of cruises sailing from British shores every year, including no-fly Northern Lights cruises from the UK, cruising makes dream holidays a possibility without ever having to step foot on an aircraft.
P&O Cruises, Cunard, Saga Cruises, Fred. Olsen Cruise Lines, Ambassador Cruise Line, MSC Cruises, Celebrity Cruises, Royal Caribbean and Hebridean Island Cruises are among the lines to offer UK departures from a large number of ports. Although the majority depart from Southampton, you can also get onboard at ports up and down the UK including Newcastle, Liverpool, Greenock, Dover and Tilbury (see 6. Cruise From Your Local Port, below).
Here is our list of the top nine reasons to take a no-fly cruise.
No one enjoys spending time at the airport -- and it's usually a fair bit of time, too, once you factor in those extra hours 'just in case' of heavy traffic or long queues at check-in. With a no-fly cruise, once checked in you can get straight onto your floating hotel and start your holiday. Even better, you'll usually have many of the ship's facilities and eateries available for you to use while you wait to set sail. A quick dip in the swimming pool followed by a bite to eat from the inclusive buffet sounds much more appealing than hanging around at an airport gate with an overpriced Pret panini.
Unless you’ve booked a no-fly cruise, chances are you’ll spend the build up to your getaway feeling more apprehensive than excited for your cruise holiday. For aviophobics (the official name given to those with a fear of flying), no-fly cruises could mean the difference between going on that dream holiday or missing out. It also means that those who endure flying anxiously don't have to begin or end their holiday in fear.
While airlines have strict rules when it comes to baggage weight, size and contents, you'll find yourself far less restricted on a no-fly cruise -- which is just as well with all that fancy evening wear to fit in. The allowances vary from line to line, so check before you pack. For example, Royal Caribbean doesn't restrict passengers' luggage (other than to suggest bringing a 'reasonable' amount), while P&O Cruises says each bag must weigh no more than 23kg for safe handling, though passengers are permitted multiple bags. Keep in mind that what you take needs to fit into your cabin, though -- it's no fun having to clamber over a stack of cases to get into bed.
Kids and flying don't always mix well, especially if you've got young children who don't like to sit still for longer than two minutes, let alone two or more hours. Waiting around at airports is super boring for kids of all ages, but add on flights and transfers and it's likely that mum and dad's nerves are going to be well and truly frayed by the time they reach their destination. With a no-fly cruise you can cut the potential for tantrums considerably, and start your happy family holiday in true Brady-Bunch style (maybe).
Relying on a flight to get you to your cruise on time can sometimes feel like a risk, especially if you have to make your own arrangements. Delayed, cancelled or missed flights can throw a massive spanner into the works when it comes to catching your cruise ship connection, and just the possibility of a problem can be stressful. Eliminate all flight-related issues that could throw your cruise off course by taking air travel out of the equation.
While it's true that the majority of cruises from the UK sail from Southampton -- including P&O Cruises, Cunard, Princess Cruises, Royal Caribbean, Celebrity Cruises, MSC Cruises and Norwegian Cruise Line -- there are more options if you’re looking for a regional departure.
Fred. Olsen Cruise Lines, Saga Cruises, Carnival and Princess Cruises are among the lines that sail from Dover; Fred. Olsen Cruise Lines also sails from Liverpool, Newcastle, Edinburgh and Belfast. Ambassador Cruise Line’s two ships Ambience and Ambition sail from London Tilbury, plus a host of other ports around the UK. Viking, Silversea, Seabourn, Oceania Cruises and Disney Cruise Line also offer seasonal cruises from UK ports.
One of the main reasons no-fly cruises prove popular is that they offer the ultimate no-hassle holiday. Once you're on the ship it's your home for the duration, with no connections to catch, hotels to check into, bags to drag from A to B or transfers to trouble you. You will also have great leisure facilities on your cabin doorstep, from relaxing spas and swimming pools to casinos and kids' clubs, plus great places to eat and drink -- all available for use from the moment you check-in.
A no-fly cruise offers holidaymakers the chance to, quite literally, test the water on a mini cruise. Also known as a short-break cruise, lines such as Cunard and P&O Cruises offer mini cruises of up to five nights to destinations such as Bruges, Belgium; Amsterdam, the Netherlands and Cherbourg, France. Another option is a short hop over to dazzling St Peter Port in Guernsey, the Channel Islands, on P&O Cruises' Ventura, or to Hamburg, Germany, on Cunard's QM2.
You can even plump for no-fly Northern Lights cruises from the UK, with some lines now offering winter sailings (the best time to see the Northern Lights on a cruise is between November and March). Look for the luminous green and purple lights dancing through the sky as you sail north, skirting the Norwegian coastline on Hurtigruten between September and December onboard MS Maud from London Tilbury.