Cruise holidays: 5 reasons there’s a cruise ship for everyone


The Pacific Explorer, the first cruise ship in two and a half years into the Waitemata Harbour, received a warm welcome to Tāmaki Makaurau Auckland. Video / NZ Herald

Cruise holidays can be a divisive issue. Advocates sing their praises – the romance of life on the open waves, the convenience, the value. Others scoff. Criticisms often include crowded ships, endless eating and not enough time on shore. Frequently, the skeptics have made their decision without actually experiencing a cruise. To these people I say; there’s a cruise out there for everyone. Open your mind, look at the variety on offer and try one. And once you find your cruise groove, you’ll be unstoppable.

1. Cruising is varied

Mainstream cruise ships aren’t for everyone; neither are large resort hotels. But no one lets the existence of large resort hotels stop them staying in characterful boutique hideaways, or rural farmstays, or top-of-the-range luxury addresses. All you need do is cherry-pick your ship the way you would a hotel.

High-end cruises offer sprawling suites with butler service, fine-dining restaurants and opulent spas – everything you’d expect from a luxury stay on land, except it’s in a different location every day. Handy, right?

Small ships have a truly nautical feel and help you get under the skin of a destination; calling in at tiny, off-the-beaten-track ports, organizing activities with local experts you’d struggle to find yourself, never wasting time on a bad restaurant or a dud sight because your itinerary is carefully curated.

Those large ships? You’ll find fun at every turn, from waterslides, climbing walls and cinemas to nightclubs, casinos and theatrical shows.

And expedition cruises are simply the best – and frequently, only – way to see some of the world’s wildest corners, whether we’re talking the frozen beauty of Antarctica or the tropical wonder of the Amazon.

2. Cruising makes travel easy

Whether it’s work stress, ill health or the travails of parenting, all our lives have their challenges. Holidays shouldn’t be one of them. Cruising smooths the way, whatever type of trip you’re taking.

If your focus is rest and relaxation, it’s hard to find a lower-effort holiday; with pools, restaurants, bars and entertainment just steps from your stateroom, you can spend many a lazy day, only hopping off the ship if you feel like it.

Even if you’re an active traveler and want to squeeze every possible experience out of your trip, a cruise places it all at your fingertips – a new destination every day and pre-planned excursions you can choose in advance. Why waste valuable time on planning and logistics when you could be out there exploring? Cruises are all killer, no filler.

And when you travel on the water rather than land, there’s no time wasted in traffic queues, and nobody needs to refuse an extra glass of wine because they’ll be behind the wheel tomorrow. Pop that cork and settle down to watch the world float by from your balcony or the top deck bar, because the journey is all part of the pleasure.

3. Cruises visit multiple destinations

It’s safe to say the past two years haven’t been anyone’s most adventurous ones. We’re all looking to make up for lost time, no matter which destinations are on our wish lists. And there’s no quicker nor more convenient way to pack a lot into one trip than by taking a cruise.

Unpack once, then wake every day to a new horizon and new experiences, whether you’re island hopping in Greece or Thailand, ticking off the picturesque ports of the Mediterranean or the Eastern Seaboard of the US, or taking a river cruise down the Danube or the Mekong. You’ll get a taste of a host of destinations in one holiday, and if there’s one you adore, earmark it for a longer stay on your next trip.

4. Cruising is sociable

Whether you’re traveling with a partner, family, friends or even sailing solo, a cruise makes meeting like-minded people along the way a breeze. There’s no pressure and it’s all very low-key – the days of set dining, and potentially being stuck at a table with the same people for your whole trip, are long gone – but instead, there are plenty of sociable situations.

Family-friendly ships offer age-specific kids and teens clubs where your brood can bond with others, and for adults, excursions and onboard activities will let you meet those with similar interests. If you get on, head for the bar together afterwards; if you don’t, don’t worry – ships are big enough that you can go your separate ways.

5. Your budget is under control

Inflation is hitting us where it hurts. Rents, mortgages, food, fuel and power are all costing more than before, so stopping our discretionary spend spiraling is a must for most. No matter which line you sail with and what your budget is, a cruise comes with an automatic level of control over your spending.

Accommodation, food, transport and entertainment are included on virtually every cruise, meaning a significant proportion of your holiday cost is set up front and in advance.

Luxury cruise lines sometimes include even more; drinks, shore excursions and even flights within the package cost. Your only extra spend could be on spa treatments and souvenirs, leaving you free to enjoy your trip without watching your wallet.

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