Choosing which of the cruise companies to book your holiday at sea with is mind boggling! When you first start looking, the hundreds of cruise companies you come across is confusing. All are vying for your attention and cash with their exotic destinations and their super luxury cruise liners. And with all their attractive promises and available extras, how exactly do you choose who to set sail with?
Beginners Guide to Cruising
This is an introduction to the best established cruise companies. An article to help you take your first steps in booking a cruise that suits your needs and circumstances.
The Chance to Visit multiple Destinations
How exciting! Especially if it’s your first cruise. Seeing multiple destinations on just one holiday, what could be nicer!
And then the practicalities hit home. ‘Do I need different visas for all these different destinations’? ‘How many different currencies do I need to take’? And will I be able to update my social media pages and keep in touch with my friends while at sea?!
More on the practicalities in a different post. For now it’s all about the different cruise companies and the agents you can book with.
The Origins of Cruising
Pleasure cruises started out in the mid 19th century. In the early 20th century, Germans were ahead the game in terms of ship design to make time at sea less turbulent. 1920-1940 were two decades when ‘going on a cruise’ really was associated with only the rich and famous. Such as the American tourist visiting England.
A Popular way to Holiday
World war 2 put a stop to pleasure cruising but it took off again in the 1960’s. By now, cruise companies were making holidays at sea more accessible for everyone.
Retro TV Series based on Cruising
Cruising’s popularity sparked the TV series ‘The Love Boat’. Set on a cruise liner in the pacific ocean, people tuned in each week to see who would pair up with who. And the corny jokes and one liners didn’t deter the viewers. The series ran from 1977-1986 with repeats being shown even now!
Decide on your cruising priorities. What do you most want to get out of your cruise? Are there specific countries or destinations you want to sail to and how much time do you want to spend in these places? Do you want a family focused cruise with plenty of children’s entertainment? Or do you want to get as far away from kids as possible for your time at sea?
Adult only Cruises do exist but there are not that many options. From the UK, Saga is a good bet as you have to be 50 years old or over to travel with them. You can take a companion who is over 40.
Do you have an accessible port from where you live? Common departure ports in the UK are Dover in Kent, Southampton in Hampshire and Harwich in Essex. But you can cruise from any port in the world.
Fly Cruising from the UK with transfers Included
If you are travelling from the north of England it is sometimes more convenient to do a fly cruise. This involves flying from your nearest regional airport to the country where the cruise begins. Here, you are met at the airport and transferred to the cruise ship. Many Cruise companies now offer Fly-Cruising.
For example P&O offer fly-cruising holidays from UK regional airports.
Fly Cruising from other parts of the world
The same principles apply to other parts of the world. If you are not located near a port. Consider the option of Fly-Cruising.
Weighing Up The Options
There are generally two options for Fly Cruising. The first is flying both ways with a cruise in between. Otherwise you can fly out and be transferred by car to the port and then sail back to the UK after the cruise is done.
If you choose the latter method, consider whether your transfers from your home to airport and then from the port back home again are going to be complicated or expensive?
Advantages of Fly Cruising
If you live in the North of the UK you have the multiple options of Scotland, Liverpool or Manchester to fly to your cruise start point. Northern UK ports are less favoured and less suitable for cruise companies and their liners. Although Iglu Cruises do offer some cruises from Edinburgh.
Save time at sea by Flying to your Starting Port
Instead of driving the length of the UK to get to a port you can fly abroad to the starting port.
Fly Cruising is a way of avoiding unnecessary days at sea to get to warmer waters. For instance, it takes 3 days to reach Madeira on a cruise ship from the UK. That’s 3 days when you could already be out in the Mediterranean, Adriatic or Pacific sailing between all those great islands!
Disadvantages of Fly Cruising
Imagine this. You just get off the boat having completed a relaxing cruise. Now you have the stressful procedures of the airport to encounter before you even start your regional journey home.
What are your Cruise Options?
Choosing which cruise to go on if it’s your first cruise can be challenging. You don’t want to waste your hard earned cash making the wrong decision.
Todays cruising companies all compete with each other to come up with new niche ideas. Or else they want to be the biggest and the best.
So which of destinations and cruise companies are there to choose from?
Examples of Cruising Destinations
Whether you sail from a regional port or opt for fly-cruising you can cruise to almost anywhere in the world. From cruises around the British Isles or Europe to worldwide voyages and everything in between. Vietnam, Japan, China, Australia and the Caribbean are all destinations you sail to today.
Spanish and Italian Islands
You can cruise the Mediterranean sea and see Spain and the Spanish islands. Cruising on the Adriatic sea can offer you Italian stop offs such as Venice, Florence and Rome. And of course cruising the Adriatic sea enables you to see Croatia and all it’s islands.
Cool Cruises to colder Climates
To reach the Norwegian Fjords from the UK it takes just a day which isn’t bad at all. By the time you settle into your cabin and enjoy some food and drink, you’ll be there!
you can do a cruise to see the Northern lights on the artic circle if you prefer cooler climes.
Far and Wide
You can sail to most worldwide destinations with Princess Cruises.
River Cruises are quite trendy at the moment. Well, it’s something different isn’t it?
Try Viking River Cruises
Viking River Cruises has been going since 1997. They offer water-based holidays on the Danube river which runs through Germany and the Balkans. Cruising on the Volga river through Russia is another option. The advantage of river cruising is that you can reach the places that the larger liners can’t. Smaller boats that river cruise firms utilise can dock and give access to small villages and interesting cities. Often right near to where you dock.
What set cruise Companies apart from each other
It is good to know a bit of background about the different cruise companies offering the cruise packages. This way you can get an idea of who you will keeping company with on your floating hotel!
Cruising with Cunard
Cunard is a British-American cruise line based at Southampton. Cunard’s first pleasure cruise ship ‘Britannia’ set sail from Liverpool to New York America in 1840. It was an epic 2 week crossing and passengers got their milk via a cow that set sail with them. ‘Dressing up for dinner’ originated on Cunard’s ships.
Cunard’s Cruise Ships
Queen Mary 2 was completed in 2018. It sails from Southampton UK to New York. It is the first cruise liner to have an on-board planetarium. Cunard’s other two ships are The Queen Elizabeth and The Queen Victoria.
Cunard’s cruises these days are based on traditional values. For example good old fashioned English afternoon tea is served on board. Entertainment involves shows starring performers from the royal academy of Dramatic art. The type of facilities you can expect on board is a reading library and exercise classes. Older clients often favour Cunard’s cruises and have stuck with then since their beginnings.
Cruising with P&O
P&O’s first cruise was in 1844 from Southampton to the Mediterranean seas. 1977 was the year this cruise companies’ leisure cruises really took off.
P&O’s Cruise Fleet
P&O is a British cruise line and is still based in Southampton today. The company currently run a fleet of 7 cruise ships. All their liners target various audiences in terms of ambiance, cabins and on board activities.
Britannia, the newest ship carries 3,500 passengers. It has been modelled on their existing ships Azura and Ventura vessels but can carry 500 more people than the other two vessels.
Activities on Board P&O Cruises
Expect everything From family focused cruises to adult only luxury. Strictly Come Dancing celebrities from the popular British TV series are regularly involved in the on-board entertainment. British themed pubs and gin palaces are what make P&O a very British institution.
Fred. Olsen Cruises
Fred Olsen is a Norwegian owned but British based cruise company. Their headquarters are at Ipswich. Fred Olsen offers smaller boats such as The Black Watch if you prefer a cruise with a more personal feel. The Braemar and The Boudicca both accommodate under just 1000 passengers.
Booking Directly with the Company or Through a Middle Man
It’s a good idea to follow the website links in this article and decide which method would suit you best.
Destinology Cruises is a travel Agent you can use as a middle man to book your cruise through. Sometimes it seems easier to go down this route as you have less to worry about. Only you can decide this. Whichever way you decide to book your cruise, check what travel protection you have. Or take out your own insurance.
The Carnival Corporation
Carnival Cruises is an cruising corporation with it’s headquarters in Miami and London.
Carnival is a booking agent; the middle man if you like.
Carnival have hand-picked what they consider the world’s best cruise lines and offer deals for holidays at sea.
Read the important bits about of Carnival, the leisure travel company and what they have to offer in the cruising world.
Cruise from Anywhere in the World
See Carnival’s World Cruise Lines. And then click on the box link that suits the location in the world you want to sail from. For instance if you live in Australia you may choose to book with P&O Australia through Carnival. Because P&O Australia sail from Sydney, Brisbane, Melbourne and Adelaide.
You can book cruises with Carnival from the UK as they offer P&O Cruises and Cunard Cruises.
The North American cruise line ‘Seabourn Cruises’ offer extreme-luxury cruises. You can book to set sail with Seabourn via Carnival.
Starting your Cruise from American Ports
If you live or are based in America, you can follow this link to book with Carnival. Their own American version of the website is worded as if you are going on a date with the cruise!
Where to find Cruise Deals in the UK
Offers on all different cruise companies and Cruise liners can be found on the following websites
Visit websites such as PlanetCruise
For world wider Cruises try Cruise1st
If you are a First-Time cruiser all good cruise companies offer a tour of the boat and a tour representative. Also there will be a meet and greet reception where you will have your mind put at ease about anything worrying you
Why not break yourself in to the world of cruising with a short-haul cruise on a smaller boat to see if this type of holiday is for you.
Look forward to seeing you next time for our next voyage!