Belfast Telegraph Holiday World Show: We are sailing
Back in the day, cruising was for well-to-do oldies intent on socialising and hob-nobbing at the Captain’s Table. Today that old school image has been blown out of the water and the cruising demographic is younger, more laid-back, and more adventurous than ever before.
Old school cruising styles have given way to more relaxed ambiance and great new destinations. As a result, cruising has become the new ‘must do’. It’s one of the fastest-growing holiday sectors, popular with couples, singles, families, over 50s … just about all of us! In Northern Ireland it seems we just can’t get enough of this holiday genre, with more locals than ever before opting for holidays afloat. So why do so many of us choose to set sail each year?
The case for convenience. Step on board, check into your cabin (or stateroom) and unpack just once. What could be easier than life in a floating hotel room? You may opt to fly to meet your cruise ship in an exotic departure port but, if you want ultra-easy-peasey, look out for sailings direct from Belfast or Dublin.
It’s a family affair
Today’s ships are packed with kids’ entertainment designed to keep tots to teens entertained with incredible (and supervised) fun. Even better, it all comes as part of the package so no more whining for extra pocket money for treats and activities! Travelling with kids has never been easier or more relaxing. For a small extra charge most ships even offer baby-sitting services.
Bring ‘em all!
Did we say families? Well, we don’t just mean the kids. Cruising is fantastic for multi-generational holidays, so why not include the grandparents in your cruise plans?
There are so many events, entertainments and activities on board that you’ll never be at a loss for something to do. When you all get together, the shared experiences will add to the fun and build marvellous memories.
Whatever floats your boat
Want entertainment? Look no further! Cruise liners are famous for their on-board entertainment, with amazing West End shows, lively bars and thrilling casinos, but it doesn’t stop there. When it comes to entertainment, innovation is key, with some surprising attractions.
Viking Ocean Cruises offers a spa with snow falling from the ceiling and you’ll find a challenging rope course on board some of Norwegian Cruise Line’s ships.
Royal Caribbean International’s 800 feet aqua coaster is the longest water slide at sea, partly suspended over the water to enhance the thrill. On Celebrity Edge you can step on board the ‘Magic Carpet’, a platform the size of a tennis court which seemingly floats over the sea as it glides effortlessly between decks.
Every day’s a school day
‘Experiential’ is one of the big buzzwords on the holiday scene right now, as people look for ways to connect more meaningfully with the places they visit. When you cruise, you’ll find programmes of on board lectures and imaginative shore excursions to help you to do just that.
Go Local excursions with Regent Seven Seas for example includes opportunities to spend a day at a family-owned goat farm in Andalusia or try fishing with residents of Portofino.
In Cuba, Silversea Cruises brings Havana to life with immersive onshore excursions in authentic 1950s style from the comfort of a vintage American car, bringing its guests to an authentic cabaret-style venue for the rhythm of Havana with ‘Legendarios del Guajirito,’ and an exclusive live performance by the Grammy-winning Buena Vista Social Club. How cool is that?
It’s budget friendly
There is some amazing value to be found amongst holidays afloat and all-inclusive allows for perfect planning and is great for the cost-conscious. Some luxury cruises will even include alcoholic drinks.
Expect to pay a supplement for dining at alternative restaurants, and for extras such as spa treatments and onshore excursions. Plus, be sure to talk to your travel agent to get the inside track on value-added drinks and gratuities packages.
And it’s high-end exclusive
While value cruising abounds, there’s aIso been major expansion in the luxury end of the market. Those who demand perfection will be spoilt for choice, with stunning ships, uber-refined service and dazzling global itineraries on offer. If you really want to push the boat out, there is simply nothing to compare with the ultimate luxury holiday of a world cruise.
The world’s your oyster
Sail the world’s great oceans, or float serenely along beautiful, heritage-lined rivers, the choices have never been more exciting or extensive. You can also mix and match, adding a few days on land, based in a special destination, to your vacation itinerary.
Making a splash?
When you want a holiday that is absolutely off-the-radar special what better way to celebrate? Toast a special birthday, achievement or anniversary, mark retirement, or celebrate getting the kids packed off to uni... whatever the big occasion, a cruise holiday is the perfect way to celebrate in memory-making style.
Onboard eateries range from poolside casual to haute cuisine and many cruise companies have teamed up with celebrity chefs to create remarkable menus, while their culinary teams often showcase their talents with cookery masterclasses.
For those with a taste for excellence, luxury liners offer fine dining of the highest order, with wines and menus that will stay in your memory long after the holiday tan has faded.
Up close and personal
Sail into the heart of the scenery and be at one with nature. Revel in the beauty of the Norwegian fjiords, the dramatic Yangtse Gorge, the amazing Arctic or glorious Galapagos. You may have seen it on TV, but there’s nothing to equal being there!
You’ve never done it all!
Every year cruise companies are introducing new ships, amenities and itineraries so that even the most dedicated cruise aficionado will find there is always somewhere new to go and something new to see beyond the next holiday horizon. Consulting with cruise experts and benefiting from their inside knowledge and professional insight will help you to steer your course to your perfect holiday afloat.
Before you set sail, visit the Oasis Travel cruise pavilion at Belfast Telegraph Holiday World
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