Want to try a cruise, but not sure what type will suit you best? Jane Jurgens has the lowdown on some of the many options available.
These ships are the rock stars of the cruise world, the ones that get all the attention because of their sheer size and their increasingly crazy offerings. But even the ocean cruising category can be broken down into family-friendly or adults-only, cheap and cheerful or five-star, traditional or cutting edge. What you go for is up to you, but it‘s definitely worth describing to your travel agent what sort of experience you‘re after and allow them to guide you.
An example of what the future holds for ocean cruising is Royal Caribbean‘s new Symphony of the Seas, which will be the largest and most technologically advanced ship in the world when it launches in April. Among the new offerings for its 5500 guests are a two-storey suite for families of up to eight that features a slide from the kids bedroom to the living room, a 10-storey mega-slide, more than 20 specialty and complimentary restaurants, glow-in-the-dark laser tag and the largest spa and fitness centre and casino at sea.
Royal Caribbean‘s ship Symphony of the Seas. facebook twitter email linkedin google-plus whatsapp pinterest reddit
will be travelling on Symphony of the Seas‘ pre-inaugural cruise out of Barcelona in April. Keep an eye on our Instagram () to get an inside look at this brand new mega-ship, and stay tuned for the full story in print later this year.
This type of specialist cruising is so popular it needs its own category because there are a number of cruise lines devoted to going where others cannot. The domain of smaller, more agile ships — many purpose-built — adventure cruises will take you to the likes of Antarctica or the Arctic, the Amazon or the Galapagos Islands, Alaska or Iceland, where you can actively engage with local people, nature and wildlife.
Planned to launch later this year is National Geographic‘s 50-berth Venture, which will feature remotely operated vehicles and has technology designed to hear and film humpback whale vocalisations and see bow-riding dolphins. In 2019 Crystal Cruises‘ luxurious mega-yacht Crystal Endeavor, which is designed for the polar regions, will launch, carrying the latest technology and toys including submarines, helicopters, underwater scooters and jet skis.
If you have a particular interest, chances are there is a themed cruise out there for you. From fitness and wellness, photography, sport, gourmet food, wine or craft beer, motorcycle or cycle, gay or even nudist, you can surround yourself with like-minded souls. Or, go a step further and cruise with your idols — you can cruise with Oprah, David Hasselhoff or New Kids on the Block or sign up for country, comedy, 1980s, Elvis or opera cruises. Families could consider a Disney cruise. Last year Radiance of the Seas held Rock the Boat featuring performers including Status Quo, Jon Stevens and Angry Anderson; and there are a number of electronic dance music cruises on offer.
Hardcore Trekkies will probably already know about Star Trek: The Cruise III, a six-day journey through the Caribbean on the Norwegian Jade with iconic Star Trek actors and personalities; this year‘s cruise had Kiwi Karl Urban on board. Guests can attend nightly shows performed by the resident stars, who will also make appearances at interactive events and activities during the day and front up for autograph and photograph sessions.
The cruise will take place in January 2019 in and out of Miami, and takes in Great Stirrup Cay, Grand Cayman and Jamaica.
At the other end of the spectrum are river cruises, which are restricted in size because of the waterways they follow, which will often include tight locks (devices used for raising and lowering vessels between stretches of water of different levels on river and canal waterways). This makes for a much more intimate cruising experience, with passenger numbers certainly never exceeding 500, and most between 150-200. It is also a much more low-key experience all round, so you won‘t find as much entertainment, drinking and dining options, spa experiences or fitness facilities. Fares are more inclusive, making it easier not to blow the budget.
However, river cruising is changing too. Next year AmaWaterways will launch the AmaMagna, which will be the largest river vessel on the Danube with room for 194 passengers. It will feature ocean-style cabins, multiple dining options, an elevator, a heated top-deck pool and hot tub with bar, expanded entertainment, fitness and spa offerings and range of water sports equipment including zodiacs and canoes for guests to use. It will also be green, with a propulsion that is a hybrid of diesel and electric engines.
Uniworld has launched U by Uniworld cruises with itineraries such as Rolling on the Rhine from Amsterdam to Frankfurt over eight-days. The first departures will be in April. Think included nights out to bars and clubs, adventure activities and cool food experiences.
Uniworld‘s river cruise ship. Photo / Instagram facebook twitter email linkedin google-plus whatsapp pinterest reddit
Initially the cruises were restricted to ages 21-45, but that limit has been lifted due to consumer demand.
“Originally, U was very specific in defining its target market,” says Tony Laskey, of Travel Corporation, Uniworld‘s parent company “but has learned that the experience is less about a number and more about attracting a new generation of adult travellers to river cruising.”