Whether you’re a nervous flyer, or simply looking for a more relaxing way to travel, cruise holidays are an excellent option. By cutting out the hassle of airport security, transfers and planning your itinerary, you can enjoy a stress-free holiday, whether it’s an exciting weekend short cruise or an adventurous world cruise. If you’re still undecided, read what some cruise and travel experts had to say on why cruising is better than flying.
Cruising is less stressful
Many people opt to cruise simply to avoid flying. As well as being the preferred choice of anxious flyers, cruise holidays take a lot of the stress out of planning. Gary Bembridge, the brains behind travel blog Tips for Travellers, started out with an audio podcast and YouTube channel (which now has over 30.6 million video views) before eventually putting pen to paper (or fingers to keyboard) to document his cruise experiences. “I was working in a global marketing job and travelling all over the world most weeks and I started to share tips and advice on the places I was visiting based on my experiences and learning,” said Gary. “At the same time, I discovered cruising and so started to share experiences about that too.” The aim? “To help travellers, mostly aged 40+, to make the most of their precious travel time and money on both land and at sea.”
Since launching Tips for Travellers, Gary has been on over 50 cruise holidays, mostly ocean cruises but an increasing number of river cruises. He added: “These include two long stretches of different world cruises and also to remote places like the Arctic.” With a wealth of experience on cruise ships, we wanted to get Gary’s opinion on why cruising is better than flying:
“Flying has become very stressful as the tight security required to cater to the huge growth in numbers of people flying have made airports crowded and a real hassle. Airports are operating at close to full capacity and so there are often delays.
“Airlines are cramming more seats into planes to generate revenue as fares are under pressure, so onboard is less enjoyable. Flying is not a pleasant experience. Cruising is less stressful and also means you do not lose time commuting and travelling to a destination as you will be eating, watching shows, drinking with friends, gambling and sleeping in comfort as the ship takes you to the next destination. It is more efficient and enjoyable use of your time.”
Cruise itineraries have never been so exciting
Unlike planes, cruise ships can take you to the heart of Alaska’s glaciers, through the Norwegian Fjords and even to the remote Galapagos Islands. The wealth of destinations available to travellers on cruise holidays is ever-increasing and certainly one of the top reasons why people are opting for cruising rather than flying.
Cruise Critic, which hosts the world’s largest online cruise community, provides guides for both experienced and first-time cruisers to help them decide which cruise is best for them. We asked Editor Ashley Kosciolek why she thinks cruising is better than flying:
“Cruising has never been such a hot holiday choice. Travellers are frustrated with the ever-increasing annoyances associated with flying – whether it’s check-in IT glitches, bulk flight cancellations, flight company collapses or lengthy passport control processes. More people than ever before are looking at cruises as a great stress-free holiday option.
“Moreover, as the UK cruise industry continues to grow at a steady pace, there are now more exciting cruise itineraries, sailing directly from the UK to the Med, Canaries and Caribbean -- and from a plethora of new, smaller ports all over the country. This means that UK travellers increasingly do not have to fly anywhere to reach a host of exotic destinations.”
Ashley points out that one of the obvious reasons why cruising is better than flying is because you can explore a number of exciting destinations without having to worry about transfers and planning hiccups. “It also means that ships can seek out the best weather,” said Ashley, “so if a storm is on its way your ship can simply alter its route to avoid it.”
Dave Monk, avid cruiser, former deputy editor of the Metro and the brains behind award-winning cruise blog Shipmonk, agreed that the chance to see multiple destinations in one holiday is a huge attraction for travellers:
“With a cruise ship, you board, only have to unpack once and are then taken to various destinations, opening the curtains in your cabin to a new view every morning. It is amazing how many places, experiences and activities you can pack into one holiday. By taking a cruise from a British port, you can avoid airports and planes entirely and be sipping a drink on your balcony minutes after boarding. Cruising is a great way to see the world, where the journey, even on sea days, is all part of the holiday.”
There’s so much to enjoy en-route
While airlines have taken great strides in developing planes to include films on demand, quality in-flight meals and even beds, many of these features can only truly be enjoyed in business class or first class. On cruise ships, however, a huge array of entertainment is available to all guests:
"Modern-day cruise ships are packed to the gills with innovative onboard activities, such as ropes courses, water parks, mini-golf, movie theatres, rock climbing walls, zip wires, bumper cars, surfing and skydiving simulators and host of other thrilling offerings,” said Ashley of Cruise Critic. “Cruises also now incorporate wine tastings, dance classes, educational programming, trivia games and other activities into their daily schedules – so there is always plenty to do for all ages. Whilst cruise evenings can bring Vegas-style shows, West End musicals, comedy, magic acts and a variety of live music and dancing, ships also have dedicated youth areas with kid-specific and family-friendly programming to keep everyone, from tots to teens, happy. The equivalent package on a land-based flight holiday would be much more expensive.”
Dave of Shipmonk echoed this point: “Cruising is totally different from flying. No one gets on a plane solely to enjoy the facilities of the aircraft, it is a way to reach a destination. With a cruise, the ship is all part of the enjoyment of the holiday.
“Some cruise ships nowadays have so many dazzling features onboard, such as bumper cars, climbing walls and go-kart tracks that passengers sometimes prefer to stay on them rather than get off at every port. For this reason, it is important to find the right cruise ship for you, otherwise it might totally spoil the enjoyment of your holiday.”
Recommended cruises for first-timers
For those of you who are still sceptical about taking a cruise holiday, we asked the cruise experts for their recommended routes and destinations for first-timers.
Cruises from Southampton
Ashley Kosciolek, Cruise Critic:
“If you really are hesitant about cruising, I recommend taking a short, 'taster' cruise. Cunard, Royal Caribbean and P&O Cruises offer cruises from Southampton. You can expect two or three nights on board and a short hop across the Channel or the North Sea to ports like Zeebrugge (for Bruges) and Le Havre (for Paris).
“Fred. Olsen has short breaks from Dover, Southampton, Tilbury, Harwich, Bristol, Liverpool and Glasgow to France, Belgium, Ireland and The Netherlands, while Cruise & Maritime Voyages sails from Cardiff, Dundee, Greenock, Harwich, Tilbury, Bristol, Liverpool, Hull, Newcastle, Poole, Portsmouth and Rosyth to ports that include the Faroe Islands, Cobh, Amsterdam and St Peter Port in the Channel Islands. In the Mediterranean, Celestyal Cruises offers a wide range of short itineraries; in a four-night break from Piraeus, you'll call at Mykonos, Kusadasi, Patmos, Rhodes, Heraklion and Santorini.”
Dave Monk, Shipmonk:
“For a slightly apprehensive first-time cruiser, I would recommend a short voyage of two, three or four days across the Channel to see how you feel about being at sea.
“And remember, if the oceans don’t appeal to you, there is always river cruising, allowing you to sail right into the hearts of beautiful towns and cities. With no chance of feeling seasick and a constant view of land, these small ships of fewer than 200 people suit active travellers who may not want to be at sea for long spells. By doing your research, I’m sure you will find a cruise that suits you and offers the holiday of a lifetime.”
Mediterranean and Caribbean Cruises
Gary Bembridge, Tips for Travellers:
“The most popular cruising regions are the Mediterranean and Caribbean, and I recommend one of these for first-time cruisers. Most cruise lines operate itineraries in both and so a new cruiser can find a line that will meet their personal style, preference and budget.
“Getting on the right cruise line is essential for a good cruising experience and they will have a lot of options in the two areas. Due to the popularity and length of time these have been big cruising destinations, the infrastructure, choice of ports called on and excursions have been crafted and are well-proven.”
We hope the experts have quashed any doubts you had about why cruising is better than flying, but if you’re searching for your first cruise holiday and have any further questions, don’t hesitate to contact our friendly team.
Image credits: Benson Kua