So, you want to book a cruise. Exciting times! There’s nothing quite like arriving at the port and seeing your home for the next week or two gleaming in the water. Cruising has never been more popular, with 27.2 million people expected to cruise in 2018, up 20% in the last five years. More Brits than ever are leaving land-based resorts behind and taking to the seas instead, with almost two million British passengers set to cruise in 2018. If you’re planning on joining them and booking your first cruise holiday, check out our top tips for finding your sea legs, starting with how to choose the perfect cruise line for you.
WHICH CRUISE LINE IS BEST FOR FIRST-TIME CRUISERS?
When it comes to cruising there are a LOT of options out there for first-time cruisers. It can be a little overwhelming! When booking your first cruise, it is so important to choose the right cruise line for you and your family. Not all operators are created equal; some offer classic cruising in the Atlantic, while others promise action-packed adventures in the Caribbean or romantic sailings to Europe’s great cities. Choosing between them depends entirely on what kind of experience you are looking for as a first-time cruiser. Here are some of our favourites.
BEST FOR CRUISING FROM THE UK
P&O Cruises is a favourite with UK cruisers thanks to its modern ships, British hospitality and many sailings from Southampton. In fact, P&O Cruises is often considered the best cruise line for sailing from the UK. The cruise line offers itineraries around the world, from long voyages to Asia and the Pacific, to Mediterranean cruises, Caribbean fly-cruises and even short breaks to Bruges, which are a great way to get a taste for cruising without committing to a full holiday!
The four Fred Olsen ships attract a loyal following and the cruise line offers departures from a whole host of ports around the UK, including Southampton, Liverpool, Newcastle and Rosyth. The cruise line is a great option for anyone who isn’t keen on flying too, thanks to voyages venturing as far as Australia, Mexico, Canada and New England, and beyond – all without stepping foot on a plane.
BEST FOR FAMILIES
NORWEGIAN CRUISE LINE
Norwegian Cruise Line recently debuted Premium All-Inclusive, making them a great option for your first family cruise. NCL ships are a haven of activity, so the kids can have literally endless fun while mum and dad rest easy knowing that they’re not going to be faced with a big bill at the end of the week and a holiday full of “can I haves!”. If you’re planning your first cruise to the Caribbean, or fancy a family cruise to Alaska, NCL is definitely worth a look!
Another must for families is Royal Caribbean. Creator of the largest cruise ships at sea, the cruise line turned holidaying at sea on its head with features like water slides, dodgems, ice-skating and trampoline parks. Independence of the Seas is a great opportunity to cruise from the UK this summer with Royal Caribbean, with the ship set to bring its adrenaline-fuelled adventures to Southampton following an extensive refurbishment. And of course, there is Symphony of the Seas; the largest cruise ship ever built will deliver a family holiday unlike anything you’ve ever experienced this summer, before relocating to the Caribbean for some winter sun.
BEST FOR CLASSIC CRUISING
Cunard is unique in its ability to offer classic cruising with contemporary home comforts and modern cuisine that is considered some of the best at sea. The three Queens – Queen Mary 2, Queen Elizabeth and Queen Victoria – cruise around the world, their arrival tending to cause quite the stir in port. A Transatlantic crossing aboard the Queen Mary 2 remains one of the most iconic journeys on earth. The ship is the only cruise liner in the world and its six-night cruises from Southampton to New York or vice versa hark back to the golden era of travel, albeit with the luxurious touches we’ve come to expect over time.
You won’t find water slides and climbing walls on a Princess Cruises ship; the fun happens ashore with this cruise line. Known for offering some of the best itineraries in the business, Princess Cruises are almost unbeatable when it comes to cruising Alaska; industry insider Travel Weekly has recognised them as Number 1 Cruise Line in Alaska for an incredible 11 consecutive years. The experience on board is leisurely yet refined and the cruise line is famed for its food too. With 19 ships in the fleet, sailing to destinations around the world, Princess Cruises is a top choice for first-timers who want a classic cruise in amazing destinations.
BEST FOR ADVENTURE
If you’re reluctant to trade adventure for time at sea, it has to be Hurtigruten. The totally unique cruise line operates in the world’s most adventurous regions. They have sailed the Norwegian coast for 125 years and their Classic Round Voyage is unbeatable when it comes to seeing Norway in the most authentic possible way. They’re a no-brainer if you’re searching for the Northern Lights, thanks to their promise that they’ll give you a free cruise if the lights don’t appear on your 12-day voyage. Incredibly knowledgeable expedition teams will accompany you on explorer voyages to Antarctica and Svalbard, land of the polar bears.
BEST FOR WELLBEING
Celebrity Cruises is like the A-list of cruise lines. Hip, modern and with a clientele that loves great food and even better cocktails, it is the ideal cruise line for 30-something first-time cruisers. When Celebrity Edge joins the Celebrity Cruises fleet this year, it will be the place to be seen at sea. If you’re big on wellness and health, book an Aqua Class cabin. The spa-themed accommodation incorporates enhanced features such as a spa shower and aromatherapy diffusers, plus an expanded room service menu with healthy options. Aqua Class passengers can also dine for free in the health-conscious eatery, Blu.
Viking made its mark with river ships but despite being relatively new to the oceans, its ships are already touted as the best at sea in terms of rest and relaxation. The cruise line expanded to the seas when loyal passengers asked them time and time again to bring their unique appeal from the rivers. The 930-passenger ships were an instant success, thanks to modern Scandinavian style and port-intensive itineraries. A standout on every ship is the Nordic spa, a seductive space that could quite easily compete with some of the most exclusive – and expensive – spas on dry land. Between soaking in the thalassotherapy pool or hot tub, lazing on ceramic lounge chairs and chilling out in the first snow grotto at sea, it’s hard to believe that the spa experience is included in your fare.
BEST FOR ULTRA-LUXURY
Luxury cruising with Seabourn may mean unlimited champagne and caviar but there is nothing ostentatious about this cruise line. The atmosphere on board is relaxed and ships are beautifully refined, designed by the most esteemed names in interiors (including Adam Tihany, the man behind the Beverly Hills Hotel.) Everything about the cruise line confidently proclaims that it is the best of the best; Michelin-starred Thomas Keller delights diners with the same skill he applies to his famed land-based restaurants Bouchon, French Laundry and Per Se, while entertainment is offered courtesy of Tim Rice, a man you may recognise as the name behind Evita, Jesus Christ Superstar and Joseph and the Amazing Technicolour Dreamcoat. It isn’t every day you find stage shows at sea created by an Oscar, Grammy, Golden Globe and Tony Award-winner.
REGENT SEVEN SEAS CRUISES
If luxury to you means getting everything included and more, Regent Seven Seas Cruises could be perfect for your first cruise. Billed as ‘the most inclusive luxury cruise line at sea’, RSSC incorporates everything from drinks and tips to unlimited excursions, pre or post-cruise land tours and even business class flights in its fares, depending on which suite category you book. The small ships are spacious and glamorous, with lots of polished marble, crystal chandeliers and even a Picasso or two dotted around. It is what happens off the ship that really sets Regent Seven Seas Cruises apart; the free excursions go far beyond your usual bus tours and really focus on what is so unique about each destination, plus there’s nothing to stop you doing more than one a day if time allows.
If you’re still not sure which cruise line is best for first-time cruisers, give our Sales Consultants a call on 01246 819819. Between us, we have spent over 13,500 nights at sea – that’s equivalent to around 37 years! – and nobody knows cruising better.