Nautical but nice – why the popularity of cruises continues to be buoyant.
Between 1996 and 2006, the popularity of cruise holidays doubled, with 1.2 million people annually taking to the seas for their holidays. In 2009 this figure grew even further, with 1.53 million British passengers opting to set sail. And with forecasts for 2012 expected to rise to 1.73 million people, it’s clear that the cruise holiday industry is not just ship-shape, but on the crest of a wave.
So with the range of cheap flights on offer, why are people choosing a life on the ocean wave, rather than taking to the skies? Well the difference between air and sea is the chance for holidaymakers to navigate all corners of the globe without having to struggle through hours spent at airports.
The key feature that cruise holidays offer is the sheer number of exotic locations that can be visited as part of one trip. The world can be your oyster, with magical destinations ranging from the far-flung delights of the Caribbean and Oceania to ports closer to home in the Mediterranean.
The latter destination, according to 2009 figures revealed by the Passenger Shipping Association (PAS), is the most popular, retaining a 39 per cent of the overall cruise market. And the likes of Spain, Portugal and Morocco are likely to retain their crowns as top cruise destinations in 2012.
Sail away – while your budget doesn’t
From the luxury of the mega ships, which host 3,000 passengers, to a more intimate and basic cruise on a 700 berth boat, there is something to suit all pockets. A number of tour operators offer cheap cruises as well as last minute cruises, which means that you can get a fantastic experience without blowing your life savings. The very word cruise conjures up a relaxed atmosphere, which you can soak up as you sit back and sail past some of the most glorious coastlines in the world.
Let them entertain you
Cruise ship crooners may come in for a bit of stick from Simon Cowell, but the fantastic entertainment offered on cruise holidays is one of the reasons people set sail time and time again. Loose women star Jayne McDonald launched her career on cruise ships as did Pop Idol and West End star Gareth Gates had a stint on the waves and even pop princess Britney Spears. With entertainment like this, evenings remain the social highlight of the cruise. With live bands, comedians, magic acts and full-scale musicals, night after night you will be kept busy on board, with a cabin only a short walk after a long night.
Fun is a shore thing
The centuries’ old Captain’s Table honour is another pinnacle enjoyed by many on a cruise holiday and each boat has a variety of restaurants, with some of the more luxurious cruises boasting Michelin star restaurants, from the likes of celebrity chef Marco Pierre White.
All are specially tailored, so whether you’re a honeymooning couple, silver surfers on a retirement cruise or a family looking for fun, there will be something to suit all passengers on a cruise with big names such as P&O and Royal Caribbean.
With clubs for children and teenagers, swimming pools and spas it’s a miracle anyone actually disembarks the boat to discover the delights of the destinations from ancient European cities in countries like Spain to tropical paradises like Bermuda.
With all this entertainment and activity in one tidy package why not book your cruise of a lifetime, schooner rather than later.