Once upon a time, cruising was the only way for many people to travel to destinations around the world. Air travel was merely an idea and intercountry rail links could only take you so far. And so, cruises would depart from UK ports bound for their destination. After completing their cruise itinerary, they would then head home on the high seas too. Today, flying and cruising have merged together into what is known as, funnily enough, a ‘fly-cruise’. Choose a fly cruise and you’ll fly to a destination to join your ship, before sailing back. Some fly-cruises involve flying both inbound and outbound, particularly in the case of long haul and exotic destinations, such as Caribbean fly-cruises.
THE PROS OF A FLY-CRUISE
There are countless reasons to book a fly-cruise, from time-saving to experiencing more cruise lines and ships, to name but a few. If you have a fear of flying, it’s probably best to keep your feet on solid ground and stick to cruising from the UK. If not, here are some of the pros of fly-cruising.
The UK’s major ports are Southampton, first and foremost, followed by Dover, Harwich. For those who live in the south, having three or four cruise ports on their doorsteps is fantastic. However, such a focus can be highly inconvenient for Northern cruisers, who face extra expense, long drives and even overnight stays in order to be ship-side in time for check in. When it comes to fly-cruising, almost all major cruise lines now offer regional departures on selected sailings, with flights departing from Midlands airports including Manchester and Birmingham. With less stress, less driving and less money outlay for petrol and pre-cruise hotel stays in Southampton, local departures make for a simpler and less expensive start to your holiday.
More time in port
For many cruisers, the ship itself is as much of a destination as the places it will take them. And it is true; choose a cruise holiday and your sea days are every bit as exciting as your days ashore, filled with food, lazing by the pool and enjoying the entertainment, especially on board the fantastic action-packed ships of cruise lines such as Royal Caribbean, Norwegian Cruise Lines and MSC Cruises. Cruising from the UK is perfect if you love spending time on board.
For others however, cruising is merely a way of travelling from A to B, seeing many different sights and experiencing different cultures at every new port of call. A fly-cruise minimises your time spent at sea, meaning that you spend more of your time exploring your destinations. So, whilst the Norwegian Fjords are just a couple of hours away by plane, reaching them via sea from the UK will take a whole day. A Transatlantic flight to New York takes around 7 hours, whereas a transatlantic crossing takes seven days. If you’re keen to do nothing but relax and enjoy your ship, a cruise from the UK is ideal. If you’re desperate to start exploring your destinations, you’d better choose a fly-cruise.
Cruise and stay holidays
Most cruise ships dock for just a number of hours during the day, often between the hours of 8am and 6pm, unless your itinerary incorporates overnight stays in port. You’d be amazed how much of a place you can experience in a day and there is something really exciting about getting back on the ship for the evening, tucking into dinner knowing that you’re bound for a brand new place tomorrow. For those who want to spend more time in their embarkation or disembarkation port, a fly-cruise allows you to extend your holiday by anything from a couple of days to a couple of weeks. You’ll have more time to shop in the Dubai malls, soak up the sun in Sydney and live it up in New York City, making for an even better holiday.
THE CONS OF A FLY-CRUISE
Like anything, fly-cruising isn’t all sunshine and smiles, and there are some cons to consider alongside the many positives.
Shopaholics rejoice, because if you’re sailing to and from the UK on your next cruise holiday, the world’s shops are your oyster, thanks to super relaxed baggage limitations. However, this isn’t the case with fly-cruises and you’ll need to meet the luggage restrictions of your airline; often one case per person, weighing no more than 23kg. Whilst this might be plenty for a land-based holiday, when shorts and tops are the norm, it doesn’t seem quite so generous when you start adding tuxedos and evening wear to your case for cruising!
Cruising from Southampton or one of the many UK ports is a breeze, and due to heavy fines, ships very rarely deviate from their planned schedules. Of course, this isn’t always the case when it comes to airports. Many things can lead to airport delays stretching in the hours, from bad weather to technical glitches and maintenance work. Unfortunately, this can mean inconvenience when it comes to getting on board your ship at your port of embarkation, especially if your flight was due to arrive just a few hours before the ship sails. Cruise lines will also make the necessary arrangements to ensure you meet the ship eventually, but even a slight delay can put a dampener on your holiday.
An important thing to bear in mind if you are booking a fly-cruise is transport. Whilst your fly-cruise holiday may depart from a regional airport such as Manchester, it is likely to return to Southampton or another southern UK port. If you drive to the airport, you’ll need to arrange transportation back there from your disembarkation port or rely on helpful friends and family to act as chauffer for the day. Though it can be a pain, the problem is easily solved by arranging a post-cruise shuttle service at the same time as you book your fly-cruise holiday, usually via your Sales Consultant here at Bolsover Cruise Club.
A fly cruise is a great way to see more of the world for less of your annual leave. Book a two-week fly-cruise to the Mediterranean and you could see as many as 10 or 11 destinations in one holiday.
How many land-based holidays allow you to do that?