The number of Britons taking ocean cruise holidays has doubled in a decade and has broken the one million mark, compared to 522,000 in 1997. Britons are now taking more cruise holidays than anyone else in Europe.
The Association of British Travel Agents (ABTA) said the increase is due to the greater variety available and the reduction in fares in recent years. There is a very wide range of ships and destinations available and truly a cruise for everyone. One word of advice though, as this is a recent trend and the variety of destinations, liners and prices are so wide and varied, it is most important that you make a choice that meets with your needs and requirements exactly.
In order to do so, it is advisable that you consult and make your booking through a reputable and well established travel agent specializing in cruises, he will know from experience which of the many cruises available at any time is the most suited for you and your family. Further more, the Cruise Agency also has the advantage of offering special discounts and special offers available that you will not be able to obtain going direct to a shipping line.
Passenger Shipping Association director Bill Gibbons said that the figure of cruising passengers was expected to rise to 1.5 million in 2008, two years sooner than predicted with the Mediterranean and the Caribbean as the top destinations. Â“But there are lots of emerging markets like South America, and Asia will see a big growth in the next few years.Â” He added.
While some people revel in fingering native currency, finding local accommodations and sampling unfamiliar foods, a key selling point for long cruises is the ability to see a truly exotic locale then get back to the ship in time to shower in your room and eat a steak dinner.
Leisure cruise vacations are also reaching new levels of popularity among American consumers while also attracting younger and more affluent guests, according to results from the Cruise Lines International Association (CLIA) 2006 Market Profile Study, conducted by TNS Travel & Transport Group, especially since the Â“11th SeptemberÂ”.
If you compare the cost of a 7 nights Mediterranean cruise at Â£473 (free for accompanied children under 18) on a luxury liner, to include 5 star accommodation, 3 luxury meals per day, entertainment, swimming pools, 24 hours service plus all the rest and travelling to 6 different destinations, with the cost of 7 nights in a hotel plus food, it certainly highlights the value of this type of holiday. ThatÂ’s without taking into account the added cost of travel to the 6 destination, entertainment and so on.
Many do argue that even six-figure cruises are a relative good value when you consider what it would cost in plane fares and hotel costs to see these remote destinations. Make the same comparison with the 5 figure cost of a 107 nights world cruise with 107 nights in 5 star hotels.
Eighty-two percent of cruisers gave the industry high marks when considering ratings of Â“veryÂ” satisfied and Â“extremelyÂ” satisfied. Seventy-one percent of past cruisers said they will Â“definitely or probablyÂ” cruise again in the next three years.
A study uncovered that a majority of respondents said cruises are superior to other types of vacations in terms of being pampered (57%), the chance to visit several locations (63%), fine dining (54%) and in being luxurious (52%).
Five-star Cruises are popular for their off-deck tours and adventures. These visits or tours are carried out with minimum fuss and fanfare. Even during tours, passengers can sleep, eat, exercise and even go sights seeing. The tour moves at a lazy pace, which benefits passengers looking to relax and improve their health. Other forms of travelling sometimes result in unpleasant experiences arising out of arguments or altercations with nasty flight attendants, cab drivers and grouchy hotel clerks; such unpleasantness increases the anxiety of travel and excludes the sense of excitement and adventure that should accompany any vacation, whereas travelling by sea includes only the experience of Â‘relaxationÂ’. The fellow travellers and staff on cruise ships are known to be very polite and pleasant; often fellow cruisers from a variety of backgrounds are keen to socialize and increase their number of friends and acquaintances.
The fact that we do live or have a second home on the Costa del Sol does not mean that we do not need to have a holiday and get away for a while. As a matter of fact we do have an advantage being on the Costa, especially with Mediterranean cruises, as the cost may well save us from paying the included price of the air fare from different destination to catch the ship in say Malaga, Barcelona or Gibraltar. Indeed by booking through a local Cruise Agency we night even be able to save some air fare costs on longer cruises, simply by catching the boat on the Mediterranean before it sets out on to the Atlantic.
In conclusion, cruise travel is popular for the variety it offers as a relaxing vacation option, for the attractive prices, for the sheer luxury of the accommodation, food and service plus the personal freedom, so letÂ’s make the most of it while we are right here on the Costa.