Herald Travel writers give their best tips for cruise holidays.
Don't write off cruising as a whole, just because you get seasick or you don't like the idea of a 6000-passenger mega-liner. There really is a cruise out there for everyone. River cruises are gentle and sturdy, great for those prone to seasickness. On my Uniworld cruise along the Seine earlier this year, I found the ship's movement to be very soothing and I slept soundly every night. The luxurious bed helped, of course. Small-ship cruises are good for those who want to be out on the water but don't want to fight hundreds of people to get to the buffet - try Peregrine Adventures' newly released Adventure Cruising itineraries for all the benefits of a cruise, minus the huge crowds.
Big ship cruises are actually pretty fun though, so don't discount them. I once cruised on the Celebrity Millennium with about 1800 other passengers, and had a really good time.
When I was hungry, there was food. When I was thirsty, there were drinks. When I wanted entertainment, there was always some activity to join in or watch. When I wanted alone time, I hung out in my cabin watching the ocean drift by. Try it . . . you may find it's the most relaxing holiday you've ever had.
- Stephanie Holmes
Do your homework and make sure the size of your ship and the culture of the line suits you. Like-minded cruisers are happy cruisers and if you want a floating resort with scores of activities every hour of every day and night, you won't want to find yourself on a destination vessel featuring lectures on the culture and history of the next port of call.
- Maureen Marriner
Challenge yourself. Each morning choose something totally random from the itinerary of activities. Never done yoga? Be flexible! Comedy workshop? Time to stand up! Lecture on astronomy? Reach for the stars!
- Winston Aldworth
When you're in the pool, make sure your belongings are weighted down. When I was on the Queen Mary 2 this year, I went for a swim only to discover afterwards that my T-shirt had disappeared and my towel was strewn across the deck. I had to make my way back to my cabin shirtless, which didn't feel very dignified on such a classy cruise line. Apparently you can buy special towel clips to attach to a deck chair that solve this problem.
- Eli Orzessek
Do the reading while on board. There are detailed (but not overwhelming) information sheets slipped under your door every day about the following day's activities that you must sign up for. On our recent European trip on the Avalon Luminary, the daily "port talk" from our Belgian cruise director Katy Huyskens was a must - informative and entertaining and delivered with great comedic timing.
- Grant Bradley and Estelle Sarney
Do not, under any circumstances, be late back on board. For cruise companies, time spent in port is a costly business and although the crew will do their level best to find you, THE SHIP WILL GO WITHOUT YOU. And you'll have to bear the cost of rejoining it.
On board, take some time to relax, unwind and just watch the sea go by. You may be rewarded by the sight of seabirds, flying fish or even something more exciting but it will definitely - and more importantly - be good for your soul.
- Isobel Marriner