Despite the spate of cruise disasters that have hit the headlines in recent years, Brits still love a cruise. In fact, according to The Guardian, “the cruise market has never been healthier, and it is British holidaymakers who are at the forefront of an extraordinary rise in bookings. More than 1.7 million British holidaymakers took a cruise in 2012, making it the biggest cruise market in Europe.”
So what makes a sea-bound holiday so appealing? Apparently it’s in the variety with “niche cruises aimed at special interest groups also fuelling growth.” While the tattooed metal fan Barge From Hell or on-board sky-diving simulators might not be your thing, there are a growing number of specialist cruises exploring remote waters like the Arctic or the Galapagos. As the cruise liners grow larger and more varied, it’s harder to tell which one is right for you. For anyone over 50, bungee-jumping and boozy weekenders aren’t ideal, so here are some great ideas for the more mature cruise-lover.
There’s a multitude of lovely destinations to choose from in this region, with areas to suit all tastes. One of the most popular options is a Greek Islands cruise, taking in that island popularised on thousands of holiday postcards, Santorini, Mykonos, Crete, and Rhodes, home to the wonderful car-free village of Lidos with its own Acropolis. Note that during peak season, some stop-offs may be very congested.
Other Med cruises worth considering are routes exploring Turkey, Croatia, Italy, France and Spain. The Med. offers a great mixture of opportunities for absorbing culture and revelling in relaxation; abounding with beautiful beaches, chic cities to explore in unique ways like Venice’s gondolas, ancient sites to visit, and of course an abundance of wonderfully fresh food from the area known for one of the healthiest diets in the world. Cruising inside the euro zone also makes it easier for carry currency, simply load up a prepaid card with euros and you don’t have to worry about exchange rates and rip offs. Will Thomas from Tuxedo Money Solutions says, “prepaid travel cards are like the next generation of traveller’s cheques. They have the same level of safety and security without all the hassle. Once you’ve bought your euros or dollars, you can relax knowing you’re not going to suffer exorbitant forex fees and the volatile money market. It works like a credit card but it won’t cost as much to use.”
With over thirty islands to choose from, there’s far more to enjoy than just the sunshine and the laid-back vibes. They may all share similarly spectacular weather, but beyond the blue skies and white sand beaches each island has a unique flavour. Whatever your tastes, you’re guaranteed to find one that feels like a second home – and encounter welcoming, friendly people known for their easy-going attitudes.
Popular places to visit include Dominican Republic, The Cayman Islands, St Lucia, Aruba, St Barts and Jamaica to name a few – it’s well worth taking some time to research what each has to offer and choose a cruise which incorporates your intended islands. With historical settler communities including the British, French, Dutch and Spanish all leaving legacies, you’ll discover diverse architecture, culture and cuisines. It’s not all beaches – seek out bustling markets and verdant tropical forests full of wildlife.
The Telegraph claims that a “Baltics cruise is an excellent alternative to the Mediterranean, especially during the summertime” and include countries like “Denmark, Estonia, Germany, Finland, Latvia, Lithuania, Poland, Russia, and Sweden. Ports of call would potentially include: Copenhagen, Stockholm, Helsinki, Tallinn, Gdansk and St Petersburg.” Holidaymakers visiting the Baltic area have almost thirty ports of call to choose from, most steeped in rich history with culture abounding. Whilst perfectly pleasant, the typical climate suits those who don’t like getting too hot and bothered and would prefer to get out and about rather than simply soaking up rays. Many cruises start or end in Copenhagen or Stockholm, meaning you can build in time to explore the cities before or after your seabound trip.
Popular places to visit include Oslo, Riga, Talinn and Helsinki. Be prepared to encounter pretty high prices when you disembark – these countries aren’t cheap. But they’re worth visiting for the rich culture and awe-inspiring architecture – walk Riga’s Old Town, and discover the history of St Petersburg. The area also boasts some underexplored areas only now emerging as tourist destinations, so you’re sure to discover some unspoilt wonders.
The seven islands that make up the Canaries enjoy wonderfully temperate weather year-round, ideal for some winter sun. The volcanic island of Lanzarote is one of the most fascinating, featuring over 300 volcanoes whose eruptions have yielded strange, beautiful alien landscapes. The island was also home to artist Cezar Manrique, whose Gaudi-like legacy is felt island-wide. Tenerife is the largest island of the group and boasts a collection of mysterious pyramids to explore. Also worth discovering is the Tenerife town of Puerto de la Cruz. For the adventurous, a camel ride in Gran Canaria is a must.
A variety of cruise destinations and itineraries allow passengers to get to grips with the complex history and mystery of the Red Sea. Explore the ‘lost city’ of Jordan; discover awe-inspiring Egyptian archaeology and unravel lore and legend in Cairo and Luxor; and soak up the sunshine and opulent luxury of resorts like Sharm-el-Sheikh. The Nile forms the ‘backbone’ of Egypt’s transport system, and its busy waterways are endlessly fascinating. If you want to take a break from huge ships, board a smaller boat and enjoy a sight-seeing ride on a traditional felucca. The climate makes Red Sea cruises the perfect destination for winter sun-seekers, as summer temperatures can really soar and make travelling uncomfortable and unpleasant. For the adventurous, the Red Sea is a great place to try out diving.
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Sarah Thompson loves writing about two things finance and travel and how in an increasingly difficult economy, you can make the two worlds collide. With years of experience as a lifestyle journalist, Sarah is drawn to writing about how to get the best out of life for the least amount of money. You can read more of Sarah’s articles in a wide variety of blogs and websites. Sarah is also a lover of brogues, vintage dresses and trips to Paris – and the occasional glass of red wine.