Going on a cruise holiday was always on my list of holidays to look into, but I have to admit, I was wary at first. I mean, sometimes there is this stigma about cruises, such as them being designed more for the older generation, or that you’ll spend the majority of the time getting sea-sick, or that the cabins can be really claustrophobic.
My opinions changed when my parents went on one a couple of years back, and cruised around Italy. They stopped off at all the popular locations around Italy, like Venice and Rome – two places I’ve always wanted to go. So not only did they get to visit the best of Italy, they also had an incredible cruise holiday at the same time.
So last year, myself, my boyfriend, my Mum and my Dad went on a cruise for a family holiday, and I was reeeally intrigued as to how I would find it.
We chose to cruise with P&O, which involved flying to Malta, where we set sail to Athens, Mykonos, Katakolon and Albania. I’d actually never been to either of those places before, so 5 new discoveries for me!
I was rather excited about the fact I’d be flying to one destination (Malta), yet would also be exploring 4 other new destinations on the same ‘holiday’. And along with that, I’d get to experience 7 nights on a grand cruise ship, with swimming pools, sunbathing areas, entertainments, shows, fine dining, 24 hours buffets… I knew I was going to love it.
And I genuinely did – I had an absolutely fantastic time. So much so that I wanted to put this blog post together to share with anyone who is in two minds about cruising just how brilliant it can be. It’s also worth noting that this opportunity to explore numerous countries via one trip was actually rather affordable. The beauty of cruises is that you can always book a late cruise deal for fantastic value.
If you have often pondered the idea of a cruise, I’ve decided to make it a little easier to get your head around. Here’s 7 reason why I would recommend cruising the sea life to anyone… (and definitely not just the elderly!).
1. Visit multi destinations
You can visit so many different locations during one single cruise holiday. Going on a cruise which visits around 4-5 different countries/islands/towns opens you up to places you had never expected to explore.
For example, I’ve always wanted to visit Italy, but I don’t really fancy spending a week having road trips, train trips or internal flights. But hearing about the cruises which tour around all the popular, beautiful cities of Italy (Venice, Rome, Milan, Florence, etc), makes me realise that a cruise is a fantastic, relaxing way to travel around.
My advice would be to use the port in which you board the ship to do some exploring too. We boarded at the port in Malta, but if you can, factor in some time to explore the country you board at too.
2. It’s all inclusive – but remember gratuities
Most cruise lines offer ‘Full Board’ service, which means all your accommodation, food and entertainment are all included in the price. This way, you know what you are paying for your holiday. You’ll often get ‘cabin credit’ too, depending who you book with and what offer you get.
This means you can use your cabin key card to ‘pay’ for drinks, and it comes off an amount you are assigned to. This will again be all inclusive, so you don’t need to worry about owing anything. You only need to remember than if you go over your cabin credit, that’s when you’ll have a bill at the end. Check your bill at reception periodically so you keep track of what you are spending.
Just remember that often gratuities, alcohol, soft drinks, speciality dining and coffees, the spa and certain activities and events may not be included, and you’ll be billed for gratuities at the end of the trip (you can, however, choose to opt out).
3. Variety across everything…
The beauty of cruising is that you have so much variety and choice that no two days need ever be the same. The cruise ships operate in a competitive market and they seek to entertain guests to give them the very best experience.
Most cruise ships will have an action-packed days, offering you lots of entertainment options, like games, live music, bbq’s on board, dancing lessons, pampering events… the list is endless!
It’s worth bearing in mind that you’ll be given a daily ‘paper’ every evening for the following day, designed to keep you up to date with information about what is happening on-board.
4. All the food glorious food.
Most cruises these days pride themselves with incredible cusine and dining options. Many showcase celebrity chef restaurants (normally a cover charge applies) alongside their traditional dining and buffet restaurants, cafes and other outlets. I found that each food outlet was just incredible quality, right down from the breakfast buffet to the lunch time bbq, and the stands offering ice creams and crepes.
But the best thing about dining ‘all inclusive’ on the cruise ships is that they offer food 24 hours a day through their various food and beverage outlets – mainly the buffets. The food will change to reflect cuisine themes (via country, for example) and will adapt for the time of day. You’ll usually experience Italian, Spanish, Greek and American themes, where you just pile your plate high!
However, if you get a bit fed up of the food on board (not quite sure how you could…) there is always the option to lunch out when you take a day trip at one of your stop-off destinations.
5. The service is outstanding.
You’ll not travel on any other trip which gives you service so brilliant. All cruise staff are trained at making your cruise as memorable as possible, and don’t forget that the cruise ships want repeat business and tips, so the best way to secure that is by making your cruise as impressive and memorable as possible.
Be prepared to be looked after, pampered and fussed over for the whooooole duration of your cruise.
6. Have an ultimate relax
The bottom line of going on a cruise holiday is that it is yours to enjoy however you want. You could simply relax every day at the pool, on deck, relax in your room or the library areas, the bar areas, or even book in at the spa.
You can join in the activities or book trips and excursions for when you get off at the next destination. It;s your cruise and you have full flexibility, as well as being well and truly spoilt!
7. Great Value for Money.
Some people may seem a little put off by cruises as they associate them with high prices, but when you take into consideration everything you get for what you pay, it’s actually pretty incredible. You get the pick of various destinations to visit, comfortable, fully serviced rooms, literally unlimited food at all the various restaurants and other food outlets, on-board entertainment, including game shows, theatre shows, movies, presentations…. and so many stop off places.
If you love travel, luxury, fun and sun, cruises couldn’t be any more suited for you. But there you go, I’ve highlighted my reasons why I love them… I’ll leave the rest to you!