Are you considering a cruise? If you’ve never taken one before, you might want to know a bit more about what to expect. To help get you on board the cruise ship of your dreams, here are 10 reasons for you to book your cruise today!
Value for money
Cruising is excellent value. Onboard meals, entertainment and activities are included in your cruise fare and there are no transport costs. You will generally find drinks cost extra, but some lines cover beverages for the voyage and many offer drinks packages. New cruisers find it hard to work out the value, so work out the daily rate, then add transfers, wine, service – all the costs of a regular holiday. Many affordable lines have cruises starting from as little as US$50 per person per day. The cruise industry also loves a deal, so you can take advantage of cabin upgrades or onboard spending money. Even luxury lines, which have a much higher base-cost, are great value because the fare includes just about everything, such as alcohol, gratuities and shore excursions.
Seared scallops or signature barbecue rubbed rib eye? Guided tours of exotic food markets with a celebrity chef? Welcome to cruising, where foodies will find some of the world’s best-loved chefs serving up stunning food experiences. Acclaimed chefs such as Nobu Matsuhisa and David Thompson deliver signature dishes on Crystal Cruises and Aqua Expeditions respectively. Yet even on the biggest ships, the variety of dining options means you can choose to eat with as few as 20 or 30 others.
When passengers are asked for the number one reason they love to cruise, many answer: “Because I really can relax.” Cruise takes the worry out of a holiday on the move. You unpack only once and your river or ocean ship moves from one exciting city to the next, while the crew graciously takes care of everything. The journey becomes an elegant voyage of discovery rather than a stressful battle with traffic, airlines schedules and queues.
A modern, resort-style cruise ship is truly a city at sea with all the services, such as shops – including designer-label boutiques, theatres, cinemas, gyms and spas, plus medical, hair and beauty services. As well as plenty of restaurants, there are cafes, bars, night clubs and casinos – from modest areas with slot machines and a few card tables, to the full deal such as the18,000 square foot Casino Royale on Royal Caribbean’s Oasis of the Seas, which has 464 slots and 27 tables and Vegas-style Fortunes Casino on board Celebrity Cruises ships.
Most ships have a thermal suite that includes things such as aromatherapy steam rooms, hydrotherapy pools, saunas and a relaxation lounge. Diamond Princess recently introduced the first Japanese onsen at sea, and Norwegian Escape and Viking Star both have a snow room (with real flurries) designed to stimulate the body’s circulation. The treatment menu has evolved beyond massages and facials, with many ships now offering basic cosmetic surgery procedures such as Botox and collagen. Choose to stay in a luxe spa cabin and you’ll generally have unlimited access to the spa facilities, complimentary treatments and even a special spa dining menu. AquaSpa class on Celebrity Cruises also includes access to the healthy menus of the AquaBlu restaurants. Seabourn’s The Spa is a two-deck offering with a kinesis wall and thermal suite, Costa’s Samsara Spa has thalassotherapy, Ayurvedic massage and personal training and Royal Caribbean’s Vitality Spa includes Elemis Aroma stone therapy, exfoliating body masks and acupuncture.
Full-scale Broadway productions, such as the smash hit Cats and Mamma Mia!, can be found on Norwegian Cruise Lines and Royal Caribbean ships, while Disney Cruise Line has family-oriented musicals from its huge back catalogue. Carnival Vista has the first IMAX cinema at sea and Princess Cruises screens films outside at its Movies Under the Stars cinema.
Fun For Kids
For mums and dads cruising with kids, boarding the right ship can mean letting an action hero take the reins. At Disney Cruises’ Avengers Academy, Captain America nobly sets aside his battle with the forces of evil to babysit young superheroes. They also put on Toy Story: The Musical for kids big and small. Carnival ships serve up Dr Seuss, the Royal Caribbean DreamWorks Experience sees Shrek and Fiona pop out to say hello and on Norwegian Cruise Line ships, Dora the Explorer hosts dance parties.
Cruise liners such as Cunard’s Queen Mary 2 conjure old-fashioned romance like few other modes of transport – think formal dinners, silver service and grand ballrooms. Cunard has a black-tie class that ensures your fellow diners won’t turn up in Hawaiian shirts, but many other cruise lines now have chic but casual dress rules. For those taking the ultimate romantic leap, several lines offer a full wedding service, including floral arrangements and a ceremony conducted by the captain.
Skill up with the help of National Geographic photographers on Lindblad Expeditions’ photography cruises from Alaska to the Galapagos. Tauck cruises to Antarctica have naturalists to explain the stunning flora and fauna of the continent. Cunard’s guest lecturers have included Desmond Tutu, Valerie Taylor, Bill Bryson and Baz Luhrmann, and this year world-renowned oceanographer and environmentalist Jean-Michel Cousteau will give talks on board cruise liner Paul Gauguin. There are art studios, plus computer and hands-on cooking courses.
From orphan orang-utans in Indonesian to polar bears in the Arctic, cruising can deliver you to the natural habitat of rare and exotic wildlife like no other kind of travel, and expedition cruises usually have on expert on board. Lindblad Expeditions sails to the protected Indonesian island of Komodo to see Komodo dragons, and to see hornbills and proboscis monkeys in Borneo. A host of cruise lines head to Antarctica, Aqua Expeditions runs trips up the Amazon to spot sloths and go piranha fishing, while Alaskan cruises are famous for whales and sea otters.
Ready to jump on the phone and book that cruise yet? Be sure to head back to the First Time Cruisers page, where you will find all the information you need about ships, destinations and deals. Happy cruising!