Fancy a vacation afloat? From luxury liners to intimate river boats, cruising has become big business.
Water-borne holidays have become a perennial leisure time favorite for many travelers. Cruising essentially comes in two flavors – the deep-sea or river variety. You can book direct with the operator or via a specialist cruise agent. And, conveniently, you can spend two weeks abroad without changing money from dollars. Your ship docks, you join a tour, or just take a walk, and then return.
For regulars from the UK to the US, Cunard – which has been operating the Atlantic since 1840 – has a Queen Mary 2 between Southampton and New York that allows you to travel by air in one direction and by sea in the other. Price-wise, it is much the same as flying on a premium ticket. This year, there are 11 passages in each direction. Out of Southampton is the best for Brits, with no air passenger duty to pay, and the arrival in New York, sailing past the Statue of Liberty, is spectacular. Cunard certainly knows how to keep its customers happy, and busy, if required – even youngsters, who have their own area and specially qualified staff.
Other companies cross the Atlantic in the spring from North America and the other way in the autumn. It’s a good way to get a taste for cruising, and the operators offer a busy onboard entertainment program, franchise spas and well-equipped gyms. WiFi at sea is also getting better and better.
Spoiled for Choice
When choosing a cruise far from home, there are a number of factors to consider. How much do you want to spend? Would you prefer deep-sea or river cruising? Are you happy to fly to or from your start or end port embarkations? Or maybe you want to fly to just one destination?
Ship choice is vast, ranging from big liners with 2,500-plus passengers and medium-sized vessels holding 1,250 upwards, to something in the boutique class, which can mean from 50 guests to 750. Whatever size you choose, boarding and departure are swift and easy, and usually much better than airports.
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