Cruise. The Marmite of holidays.
Mention it to one person and their face will light up like a Christmas tree, to another and they will look at you appalled. Did you just say the C-word in the presence of a cruise-atheist? But, and we’re going to say something quite extreme here, there is a cruise to suit absolutely everyone.
Don’t believe us? Read on, naysayers, read on.
1. The anti-cruiser
You want all the perks, without the razzle dazzle. You don’t want garish shows, game shows or contests. You like simplicity; freedom to do as you please and a home-away-from-home. With Seabourn, you get just that. Small in stature, their svelte yacht-like design means your cruise is never crowded. Pool games and tannoy announcements are noticeably absent, and ‘entertainment’ is more likely to be a unique concert in a niche destination. Perhaps one of the more challenging aspects of cruise travel is the baggage check-in and reclaim, but with Seabourn, guests can pick the Personal Valet Luggage Service, whereby luggage is picked up and delivered directly to your suite. What’s more, Seabourn’s all-inclusive pricing eliminates the risk of unexpected cruise expenses.
2. Hold up. I love razzle dazzle. Show me the razzle dazzle!
Love a jazz hand? Sure you do. And so does Norwegian Cruise Line. Take a trip with these guys and you’ll receive a nightly entertainment program of acrobatic shows, magic acts, comedy stand-up, jazz, blues and piano bars. Not forgetting the Broadway-style productions like Rock of Ages and Chicago.
Norwegian Cruise Line
3. The family clan – with tweens
Teenagers don’t like hanging out (or holidaying) with their highly embarrassing parents. Fact. But that’s okay, because on-board a Royal Caribbean cruise they don’t have to. With rock climbing walls, ziplines, ice skating (and regular skating), surfing and skydiving simulators, swimming pools, water slides, basketball courts and volleyball, every minute they don’t want to spend with mum and dad, they can spend doing any of the above. And for all those with kids desperate to be adults, Royal Caribbean offer specialised teen-tailored spa treatments and ‘no elders allowed’ lounges serving sinless mocktails.
Basically, don’t wait up.
4. The new parents
In which case, you’ll be in dire need of a holiday. Cruise with Disney Cruise Line and the on-board nursery will look after your little tykes from ‘fresh outta the womb’ right up to three years old. For everyone else, the entire ship is decked out with play areas, planned Disney events and spontaneous encounters with all your favourite Disney characters. Restaurants are adorned in Disney décor, with venues such as Animator's Palate allowing you to bring your doodles to life. And there are plenty of discos too - where the boys can slide on their knees. But don’t be mistaken, this isn’t a children’s resort per se; sophistication abounds. For the adults in your crew, there are also adults-only dining venues, adult pools and even a Great British pub.
Disney Cruise Line
5. The child-free
“They may take our lives, but they'll never take our FREEDOM!”
Braveheart jokes aside, if you don’t possess children in your cavalry then take a look at Silversea. Children are a scarcity in these parts. Silversea’s small scale ships range between 100 and 596 guests, the staff to passenger ratio is almost one for one, and they cater for limited mobility. Couple that with 800-plus locales (across all seven continents), understated elegance and enough space to swing a sea-faring cat, and you have a whole heap of reasons to travel, child-free, with Silversea.
6. The solo traveller
Think cruising is all about family dinners and couples getting reacquainted? Wake up and smell the seaspray, lonesome dove, because Holland America are here to feed all your single needs. With hosted parties for the unattached and singles-themed cocktail nights, you’re just one drink away from the Dutch courage you’ll need to mingle (Dutch courage – get it?) If you’re on-board for 40 days or longer, the cruise line also provides male hosts to accompany single ladies to dinner - or the dance floor. Knock em dead, kid. Another contender would be Norwegian Cruise Line, which offer studio cabins targeted (and priced for) solo cruisers on their Norwegian Escape, Norwegian Bliss, Norwegian Breakaway, Norwegian Getaway, Norwegian Epic, and Pride of America ships - but refrain from charging a single supplement. Hurrah for that.
Holland America Line
7. Cruises for couples
Referred to as “The Love Boat", Princess Cruises have quite the reputation amongst amorous couples. Promoting everything from private balcony dinners to a chocolate couple’s massage, if romance is on your agenda you won’t go far wrong with Princess. Take in a movie under the stars or descend on one of their candle-lit dining rooms for a romantic dinner. Request a tango dancing lesson together, or get on the ‘Kiss Cam’ at the Love Boat Disco Deck Party. And with an adults-only area called The Sanctuary located on all Princess ships (except Pacific Princess) you can always saunter off to the spa together.
8. The pet owner
Holidays are almost always a challenge when you own a pet. Kennels, chipping, paying a mate to ‘pop in’, the expenses all add up. And let’s be honest, pooch doesn’t like it when you leave either. In 2016 Cunard’s Queen Mary 2 spent a whopping NZ$181 million on renovations and that included new accommodations for pets. The QM2 has always facilitated four-legged passengers (they’re the only cruise line with kennels-at-sea) but now they have 24 plush kennels, larger play spaces and a new ‘Owner's Lounge’ for their human visitors. There’s also Kennel master, Oliver Cruz who cares for all the fur balls; walking, feeding and playing. Owners can visit, but cannot take them to their cabins. Both cats and dogs are welcome.
Queen Mary 2
9. The food lover
It’s tempting to disregard cruise food as a mere medley of buffets and stainless steel serving stations. But we’re here to dismantle cruise stereotypes – and show you the Michelin star meals. Cruises are now at the forefront of prestigious cuisine; the only difference between a cruise restaurant and one that’s found in the fourth arrondissement of Paris, is that one of them floats.
If you’re a die-hard foodie, take a look at Oceania Cruises. They boast French chef Jacques Pepin as their executive culinary director. That means the lobsters are plucked directly from the line's very own Maine lobster farm, and the beef is dry-aged for at least 28 days in Oceania's premier aging facility. Love a bit of theory to complement your practical? Oceania also offer cooking classes in their much raved about ‘Culinary Center’, or opt for a 'Culinary Discovery Tour’ and the entire itinerary focuses on dedicated food-centric excursions.
10. The creature comfort cruise-goer
By 2018 Princess Cruises will boast 44,000 speciality beds designed by Dr. Michael Breus. Who’s that you ask? Well he’s also known as “The Sleep Doctor”and he’s an ambassador for health-beneficial pillows, so rest assured you’re in for a decent snooze. If you don’t feel like lifting a finger, both Regent Seven Seas and Silversea employ butlers trained by the Guild of Professional English Butlers (outta my way, royalty coming!) And if you upgrade to Royal Caribbean's Star Class, you’ll not only receive complimentary fitness classes, internet, in-suite movies, included gratuities, thermal room access and bottled water, all for no additional charge, you'll also get all of these fab extras:
- Still and sparkling water replenished every day
- 'Best Seats in the House' in selected entertainment venues
- Priority entrance to multiple onboard activities
- Complimentary minibar stocked with Coca-Cola beverages and water
- Access to exclusive activities such as the Bridge, Galley and Back Stage Tours
- All day access to Coastal Kitchen
- Suite lounge and sun deck access.
11. The fan of all things hassle-free
Something that Princess Cruises have been showcasing for years, and an idea Carnival Cruises have recently announced they will also be installing, AI-style wristbands grant passengers wireless technology whilst on-board. Wear it like a watch and it’ll do all kinds of wonderful things. It’ll electronically open your stateroom as you near the door, track your whereabouts (no danger of getting left at the last port), it’ll let your cruising comrades know where to find you and allows passengers to purchase food. Called a ‘medallion’, there is no requirement to wear one, but if you choose to do so, Carnival's can be worn as a watch, pendant or necklace.
12. The active relaxer
Almost all cruise lines offer some sort of on-board enrichment program, covering anything from educational lectures (think TED Talks) to cooking classes and digital photography lessons. Cunard offer a very civilised Cunard Book Club on all three ships: Queen Mary 2, Queen Victoria and Queen Elizabeth, while you can learn a new language on both Crystal and Celebrity. If you’re after a cruise experience that is non-stop activity, Carnival Cruise Line offer a ship that can’t be out-done. Carnival Vista boasts an IMAX cinema, waterpark, beer brewery and a bike riding route that’s aerial. Yes, you’re pretty much cycling on a tight rope.
Queen Mary 2
13. The anti-inside cabin cruiser
And yet we all know that these are the cheapest staterooms, and sometimes price does dictate what we book. Can’t stand the thought of an internal cabin? Don’t write off a cruise just yet. Royal Caribbean feature internal rooms that are both inviting and functional. With floor-to-ceiling HD-TV windows featuring real-time panoramas of the ocean and selected ports. As well as virtual balconies accompanied by the sound of waves.
See what we mean? You're cruise enlightenment is now complete. Go forth and choose the right cruise for you. Want cruise deals? yup, we've got them too.