Please don’t tell me a cruise is not for you – it’s like saying you don’t like hotels. There are just as many varieties and styles of cruise holidays as there are hotel stays.
You can spend £200,000 on a luxury round-the-world cruise, or as little as £76 on a last-minute, two-night jaunt to Rotterdam.
So whether you want to kick back with a good book and take in clear sea views, dance on deck under a starry sky or city-hop around Europe – there is a cruise for you.
The huge Ultimate Abyss helter-skelter on board the Royal Caribbean liner Symphony of the Seas
Ships today are destinations in themselves, with so much to keep hyper-active kids busy. Many of these mega-ships sail year-round in the Caribbean and others do summer seasons on the Med.
Dare each other to drop down the vertical Free Fall waterslide, speed round the looping go-kart track and then fight it out in the laser-tag arena on Norwegian Bliss (ncl.com).
Whizz down the Ultimate Abyss helter-skelter and the Perfect Storm trio of waterslides and race against the clock in the Escape Room on Symphony of the Seas (royalcaribbean.co.uk).
MSC Seaside and MSC Seaview have the longest zip lines at sea, 20 decks above the waves (mscruises.co.uk).
The Star Flyer, pictured, a clipper that has 16 billowing white sails
Sea and romance go together but some ships have added elements for loved-up couples.
Skim through the Adriatic beneath 16 billowing white sails on clipper Star Flyer, stroll ashore on the pretty island of Cres, spy the dreamy windmills of Mykonos and enjoy the sunset on sexy Santorini.
A ten-night cruise from Venice departing on July 22, 2020 is from £2,395pp (starclippers.co.uk).
It feels like a private yacht sailing on the elegantly casual SeaDream I in the Caribbean. Sleep under the stars on deck in a ‘Balinese Dream Bed’ and feast on champagne and caviar on a palm-fringed beach, all included in the price, from £2,609pp for seven nights (seadream.com).
BUCKET LIST BOOMERS
Cruises can visit a clutch of countries in a week or two making them a time-efficient way to tick off your bucket list
A cruise is the most time-efficient way of ticking off a bucket list because a clutch of countries can be visited in a week or two.
The 14-night Viking Homelands cruise, aboard Viking Sky, visits eight countries. Tick Stockholm, Helsinki, Berlin, Tallinn, Copenhagen, and stay overnight in St Petersburg. Departures from Stockholm or Bergen are from April to September 2020. Fares from £4,790pp include 11 guided tours (vikingcruises.co.uk).
Choose a Med cruise with port-intensive, destination-immersive line Azamara (azamara.co.uk) and the selfie experiences keep coming. St Mark’s Square, John the Baptist’s cave on Patmos and Crete’s Samaria Gorge are just a few.
Restaurants on cruise ships offer on-trend fare from raw fish to molecular gastronomy and engage famous chefs to create menus and join selected sailings
Cruises are renowned for round-the-clock eating but it is no longer all about frequency and quantity.
Restaurants offer on-trend fare from raw fish to molecular gastronomy and engage famous chefs to create menus and join selected sailings.
Oceania (oceaniacruises.com) has high-quality restaurants, including French and Tuscan, and is now wowing fans with new plant-based dishes.
Shop with the chef and follow ingredients from a local market to your plate, helping cook dinner at The Kitchen Table on Viking ocean cruises (vikingcruises.co.uk). Or learn to make Marco Pierre White’s favourite dishes (from the great chef himself on selected sailings) in the Cookery Club aboard Britannia (pocruises.com).
Rolling along: Amsterdam is just one of fascinating dozens of cities you can see on a cruise
Sign up for a short, no-fly cruise sailing to the Continent overnight to arrive in cities ready for a day of sightseeing, shopping and bar-hopping.
A three-night Dutch City Break aboard Boudicca sailing from Dover on March 19, 2020 has a day in Amsterdam and the next in Rotterdam with fares from £299pp (fredolsencruises.com).
A Spring Break to Amsterdam and Antwerp aboard Columbus departs Tilbury for three nights on May 5, 2020, from £239pp (cruiseandmaritime.com).
A Hurtigruten cruise ship makes its way along a Norwegian fjord. For 125 years Hurtigruten line has plied the long coast of Norway
For 125 years Hurtigruten line has plied the long coast of Norway, year round, beneath the Northern Lights and midnight sun.
Ships depart daily on 12-day voyages, taking in 1,500 miles from Bergen to Kirkenes, far inside the Arctic Circle, with 34 ports of call and opportunities for husky-dog sledding, fishing and hiking along the way, from £1,008pp (hurtigruten.co.uk).
Antarctica in our winter has endless daylight, icebergs and penguins. Mountaineer Sir Chris Bonington is aboard new ship Greg Mortimer for a 22-day South Georgia & Antarctica Odyssey departing on March 22, 2021 costing from £16,950pp (auroraexpeditions.co.uk).
Many cruise lines (including Marella, Fred. Olsen, P&O, Cunard and Princess) offer Northern Lights cruises. Go to cruise.co.uk to see a wide range of ships and departures.
A Uniworld river boat sails through Budapest. European river boats are a great place to meet new people
For some, meeting new people is a highlight of a holiday. Head to the lounge, the social hub on European river boats, and enjoy shared tables for meals. Group excursions are perfect settings to meet fellow travellers while exploring the Danube, Rhine, Douro and Rhone.
Choose Shearings (shearings.com) to bond with fellow Britons when you travel to your boat from various pick-up points in the UK by coach.
Meet gregarious Aussies over free-flowing drinks included in the fare on cruises with Scenic (scenic.co.uk), while APT (aptouring.co.uk), Tauck (tauck.co.uk), Avalon (avaloncruises.co.uk) and Uniworld (uniworld.co.uk) are popular with outgoing North Americans.
On a seven-night voyage between Southampton and New York on Queen Mary 2 there are five days without sight of land
Choose the right voyage and restorative peace, quiet and anonymity can be found. On a seven-night voyage between Southampton and New York on Queen Mary 2 (cunard.co.uk) there are five days without sight of land.
Walks around the deck (three circuits equals a mile) and star-gazing on deck induce dreamless sleep.
For a wi-fi-free long voyage with few passengers and only occasional stops, book a berth on a working cargo ship. Italian freight line Grimaldi sails from Tilbury to Rio via West Africa, taking about three weeks (cruisepeople.co.uk).
Motor yacht Beluga explores the Galapagos Islands, pictured. There guests can encounter iguanas, giant tortoises, seals and blue-footed boobies
Small expedition ships can get into remote inlets and up close to rare and exotic creatures.
National Geographic for 96 passengers is ‘part grand hotel, part research centre’ with expert lecturers and expedition leaders on board, sailing on Mexico’s Sea of Cortez. Sightings of giant manta rays, grey, sperm and humpback whales and the chance to snorkel with sea lions are on the itinerary. (mundyadventures.co.uk).
Motor yacht Beluga explores the Galapagos Islands with a naturalist on board, encountering iguanas, giant tortoises, seals, blue-footed boobies, frigate birds, penguins, flamingos and many, many more creatures (wildlifeworldwide.com).