More Brits than ever before are setting sail on cruise ships but before you book an off-shore holiday here’s what you need to know.
Cruise ships might conjure up images of tiny cabins and seasickness but things have changed in recent years, and cruises are back in fashion with more than 1.6 million Brits setting sail on ocean liners in 2010.
Cruise ships are modern, floating, holiday resorts with shopping malls, state-of-the-art spa facilities, activities, sports and lively nightlife.
On top of that you’re treated to a new destination almost every day and only have to pack your bag once, so it can be a great way to see more of the world than you would on any other type of holiday.
Which might explain why one in nine package holidays taken by Brits in 2010 was a cruise, despite the number of foreign holidays taken declining overall. The Passeneger Shipping Association (PSA) now predicts that 1.7m cruise holidays will have been sold by the end of 2011.
PSA director Bill Gibbons explains why cruises have become so popular: “In a challenging economic environment, these figures show cruising is giving the British customer what they want - a complete, inclusive holiday with exceptional value, high standards, endless variety and exciting destinations. It is a more contemporary form of package holiday that appeals to families, couples of all ages and those with an adventurous streak.”
What you need to know before going on a cruise
Like any holiday it’s important to take out adequate travel insurance before you set off but don’t rely on your traditional policy: cruises require special cover. That’s because you’ll be hundreds of miles away from land and a medical emergency can be far more costly, so it’s worth considering specialist cruise insurance.
Cruise insurance also extends to lots more activities than a normal travel insurance premium – so, things like jet skiing, wind surfing and snorkeling.
And because you’ll be visiting multiple destinations it’s important you’re covered for any incident no matter where you are on your cruise, which cruise cover will take care of.
Who are cruises for?
Until recently many Brits held the opinion that cruises were for the older traveller but that’s changing. According to the PSA more families are now cruising with children, with 7 per cent of passengers under 18 years old. The ratio of those under 35 has also risen from 11 per cent to 13 per cent. And the average age of a UK cruise passenger is now just over 54.
What will it cost?
Cruises used to be the holiday of choice for the wealthy but last year four out of 10 cruises booked cost less than £1,000. And because cruises are typically all-inclusive, it can be a good-value way to travel, with on-board drinks and meals covered, as well as certain activities.
Where can I go?
The most popular destinations continue to be the Mediterranean and the Caribbean.
Mediterranean cruises in particular have soared in popularity with a 41 per cent increase in 2010. Meanwhile cruises in the Baltic have trebled in the past decade and cruise spots in the Arabian Gulf and Red Sea are growing in popularity. So if you’re thinking about a holiday at sea this year, Confused.com has a few deals on offer, including 14 nights in the Mediterranean from £899 per person and 14 nights in the Caribbean from £1349 per person. And even Baltic cruises.