MSC Cruises is known for voyages packed with fun and fascination. Now, the cruise lines newest ship, MSC Meraviglia, is taking this one step further, offering cruises that are sure to inspire all who step on-board.

Meraviglia’s name translates as ‘wonder’ in English – a fitting moniker when you consider the ships size and scale. The largest ship built by any cruise line based in Europe, she clocks in at 1,033ft: catering to 4,500 guests with 2,250 staterooms and countless facilities.

So, what can you find on-board?

Galleria Meraviglia

Galleria Meraviglia on-board MSC Cruises' Meraviglia

Galleria Meraviglia forms the central promenade of this Vista Class cruise ship. It is a 96m haven of boutique shops, enticing restaurants and tranquil relaxation spots; perfect for socialising and indulging your discerning tastes. But that isn’t all. When night falls, Galleria Meraviglia comes alive with music, parties and spectacular entertainment.

Cirque du Soleil

MSC Cruises partnership with Cirque du Soleil

Speaking of entertainment, Meraviglia hosts one particular show that will astound and delight everyone on-board. In a first for MSC Cruises (and indeed, the cruising world in general), Meraviglia has an exclusive partnership with Cirque du Soleil.

Twice a night, six nights a week, Cirque du Soleil’s performers will put on a breath-taking show of beauty and acrobatics in the custom-built Carousel Lounge. You can even savour a delectable culinary experience while you watch.

Speciality restaurants

Vegetable tempura in a speciality dining venue on MSC Meraviglia

The Meraviglia cruise ship offers a delectable collection of restaurants: 12 dining venues, to be exact!

Even the fussiest eaters will retire to bed with full bellies after sampling the Mediterranean specialities and international favourites served at the Marketplace Buffet. Open 20 hours a day, it is the perfect spot for a relaxed breakfast or midnight snack. Then, of course, there are MSC Meraviglia’s speciality restaurants.

Eataly – Ristorante italiano offers guests the chance to explore, taste and buy the very finest Italian-inspired Mediterranean cuisine. Butcher’s Cut is an American-style steakhouse serving prime cuts from around the world, all paired with fine wines and delicious cocktails. Or perhaps you are in the mood for something a little more exotic? The Kaito Teppanyaki Restaurant & Sushi Bar is a charming venue that serves truly authentic Asian cuisine. Only the freshest, finest quality ingredients are the order of the day, and are complemented beautifully by the restaurants traditional-meets-modern décor.

F1 simulators

Sleek F1 simulators on-board MSC Cruises' Meraviglia

Whether you are young or young at heart, a fan of racing or not, MSC Meraviglia’s F1 simulators will give you a rush like never before. Compete against your family in two virtual-reality racing cars that will transport you to the heart of the track. Winner stays on!

Clubs for kids of all ages

Children enjoying the Lego Experience on-board MSC Meraviglia

MSC Cruises are dedicated to providing fun for the whole family. From the exhilarating slides of the Polar Aquapark to the ships full-size bowling alley, we guarantee there is no risk of boredom. However, this hasn’t stopped MSC from creating a range of clubs for kids of all ages, just in case someone does start to complain!

  • Baby Club: Activities and games for children aged between one and three years old, designed in partnership with Chicco.
  • Mini and Juniors clubs: Thanks to a partnership with LEGO®, kids aged from three to 11 years old can while away an entire day in brick heaven. Every cruise also includes the LEGO® Experience On Board: an entire day dedicated to fun LEGO® activities for the whole family.
  • Teens clubs: With a club for 12 – 14 year olds, another for 15 – 17 year olds and an extra-special teens-only area, there is always something to keep older children entertained. The teens-only area serves as a cinema, gaming room and disco, depending on the time of day.

Wellness venues

Woman enjoying a Balinese massage on MSC Meraviglia

MSC Meraviglia is as much about slow-paced wellness as non-stop fun. If you want to spend a day at a more relaxed pace, visit the gym. Equipped with state-of-the-art Technogym® equipment and running a range of fitness courses and training programmes, it is the perfect place to let off some steam and feel reinvigorated.

Afterwards, why not rest your aching limbs in the MSC Aurea Spa? This luxurious Balinese retreat seeks to heal your body and soul, featuring a thermal area, beauty salon and nail boutique that will pamper you from head to toe.

MSC Meraviglia is more than just a cruise ship, it is a destination for couples, families and groups of friends who are seeking as much fun, excitement and relaxation as in-port culture. With facilities for absolutely everyone, you are guaranteed to return to dry land feeling like new.

Are you craving an unforgettable escape on-board MSC Cruises’ Meraviglia? Contact our Cruise Concierge on 0207 980 2847 to plan the personalised cruise holiday of your dreams.

The latest member of the Cruise118.com team to hop on-board a ship is Scott Perry. He paid a quick visit to Saga Group’s Saga Pearl: a stylish and intimate cruise ship known for sailing to little islands and lesser-known ports.

Take a look at what Scott thought of Saga’s small but perfectly formed vessel.

First impressions

Saga Pearl cruise ship docked in-port

My first impression of Saga Pearl was great. The embarkation process was incredibly smooth – in fact, I was out of the car and onto the ship in minutes, with no queues or lengthy waits. There was, however, a 20 minute wait in the reception before the tour commenced, and my group had to find our own way to the reception desk. After this, everything ran pretty smoothly.

Décor and accommodation

Deck of the Saga Pearl looking out to British port

The décor on-board Saga Pearl is very low key and traditional. As the cruise lines target market is the over 70s, I can see why they don’t want to glamourize the ship in such an ‘in your face’ way. That said, the ship did come across as a little outdated for the prices their customers tend to pay.

I would agree that a facelift is necessary: a refurbishment would definitely send passengers home happy.

Entertainment

Sophisticated restaurant on-board Saga Pearl cruise ship

Though my group didn’t get to observe Saga Pearls entertainment itself, we did receive a tour of the venues and learned a lot from the tour guides about the entertainment. It is all adult specific, as this ship is targeted specifically at passengers over the age of 50.

Saga Pearl has one main entertainment venue. This is probably the biggest room on the ship bar the main dining room: very nicely decorated and well-spaced out. It has a main stage with a piano for traditional music events, plus another piano one deck above. This is situated in the bar so passengers can enjoy a smaller and more intimate entertainment experience.

Rows of chairs in Saga Pearl's intimate cinema

Along with the main venue, there is also a small cinema for passengers to enjoy. It is very compact and intimate: not like your standard modern cinema.

Food and drink

Elegant tables and chairs in Saga Pearls dining area

There is only the one dining area on-board Saga Pearl. We couldn’t observe the evening meal, only lunch, but it was very laid back and casual while retaining a classy feel.

Passengers are free to come in and enjoy breakfast, lunch, afternoon tea and their evening meal in the main dining room. For meals before dinner, passengers have access to a buffet- style sweets stand complete with muffins and cakes.

Roast dinner with gravy on the Saga Pearl cruise ship

The standard of food itself was exceptional. I enjoyed a seafood starter, Sunday roast dinner and a rice pudding desert, all of which were undoubtedly satisfactory. We could not fault the service, as our drinks arrived minutes after ordering, and we were waiting just 10 – 15 minutes between each course – fast to say I was seated at a table of six! The waiters couldn’t be happier to attend to water refills and condiment requests, while the ordering process was seamless.

There doesn’t seem to be a theme variation for food. The extras needing to be paid, like most cruise lines, lie within the speciality drinks on board. Drinks on-board Saga Pearl seem exceptionally priced: a pint of lager at just £2, and a glass of the house wine for around £3. These are complimentary at meal times anyway, so it is only in the bars they need purchasing.

On-board package

Diners seated with menus on-board Saga Pearl cruise ship

On Saga all-inclusive ocean cruises, you can enjoy selected wines at lunch and dinner, Saga house-branded spirits with mixers or as cocktails, draught beer and lager, and all soft drinks. Saga cruises are also completely gratuity free, which is what I think is a key factor in their passengers’ return rate.

Final verdict

Swimming pool on-board the Saga Pearl cruise ship

Despite the fact that it is a smaller ship catering to just 602 passengers, Saga Pearl was very spacious. The Saga representative who sat with us at lunch said they always ‘sell out’ even before they have reached their maximum occupancy, because they know their clientele would not like to feel overwhelmed after paying good money. Passengers often get the choice to either mingle with others and make new friends, or keep themselves to themselves.

Overall, Saga portrays a very relaxed feel. The staff all around the ship (from cabin crew, bartenders and chefs to waiters and receptionists) were all very talkative and seemed happy to see and greet you. I would recommend the brand to customers no younger than 70, who are seeking a low key break away without too much fuss. I would only really recommend Saga to British passengers, too.

The branded tower on a Saga cruises ship

I think the perfect customer in Saga’s eyes would be a couple in their 70s or 80s wanting to enjoy an anniversary or to celebrate retirement, or even just get away. Saga doesn’t come as cheap as the likes of P&O, Cruise & Maritime and Fred Olsen, so I would definitely recommend this ship for a special occasion.

Overall, I wouldn’t pay to sail with Saga myself as I am far too young to enjoy what they have to offer. I would be more suited to a fun and lively ship with younger people on-board, but that said, the dining on-board Saga Pearl was faultless and I’m sure the accommodation would be satisfactory.

Saga is classy, relaxed, low key and caring. Although the ship needs a slight refurb, it still retains a luxurious feel.

Would you like to experience the care-free lifestyle and complete relaxation on-board Saga Pearl? Take a look at the scenic itineraries in our collection of Saga cruise deals, and call our Cruise Concierge on 0207 980 2847 to discuss your requirements.

If your wedding day is the happiest day of your life, then the start of your honeymoon undoubtedly marks the most magical. Amazing experiences, quality time and newlywed bliss – perfect. There is just one problem: how do you choose a honeymoon destination you know will give you unforgettable memories in return?

With so many spectacular cruise destinations right across the world, we thought we’d give you a helping hand. Here some of the six most amazing cruises for honeymooners, hand-picked from our exquisite Finest Collection.

Jewels of Japan

Yellow Japanese temple reflected in water

Snow-capped mountains, ancient culture, trees upon trees of cherry blossom: the land of the rising sun is romance personified. It is the perfect honeymoon cruise destination, and with the right itinerary, is gloriously immersive.

On-board Princess Cruises’ dazzling Diamond Princess, you will see first-hand how Japan perfectly marries its ancient traditions with the buzz of modern life. Over 19 nights you can ascend the imposing slopes of Mount Fuji before exploring the quintessential Japanese town of Kyoto. Visit peaceful temples and tranquil lakes, take part in a traditional tea ceremony and experience the humbling remains of Hiroshima.

Between all of this you will be treated to exceptional dining that encapsulates the best of Japanese cuisine.

Santorini, Mediterranean Havens and Barcelona

Santorini cruise port illuminated at sunset

If you are craving a honeymoon fuelled by both sun and culture, head to the Mediterranean, taking in some of the region’s most beautiful ports.

Including hotel stays in both Santorini and Barcelona, this 14 night luxury cruise is all about peaceful strolls and complete luxury. After all, it takes place on-board Oceania Riviera, a sophisticated ship with service that will make you and your partner feel like royalty. And the magic won’t end once you leave your vessel.

Embark on a volcano, hot springs, Thirassia and Oia sunset tour from Santorini, before exploring Sorrento, Capri and Monte Carlo. Your final port of call is Barcelona, where you can appreciate the city’s full beauty during a breath-taking helicopter ride.

Caribbean Serenity

Crystal clear water and palm trees on a Caribbean beach

The Caribbean might be a stereotypical honeymoon destination, but is it really surprising? Crystal clear water, gently waving palm trees and miles of sumptuous sand mean newlyweds can spend their days here in complete serenity. On-board a Holland America cruise to the Caribbean, you can pair complete contentment with once-in-a-lifetime luxury.

Sailing on-board MS Amsterdam, you will embark on a handpicked escape to the exotic islands. Your journey starts in Miami, where you will enjoy a luxurious hotel break with incredible attractions on your doorstep. You will then transfer to Fort Lauderdale, where you will hop on-board your luxury cruise ship.

From the pristine beaches of Grand Turk and the culture of San Juan, to picturesque St Thomas and pristine Half Moon Cay, this is relaxation at its finest. Your journey ends in Jamaica, where you will experience an all-inclusive hotel stay and dolphin swimming experience.

Amsterdam, Iceland and the Northern Lights

Northern Lights dancing over snow-capped mountains on a fjords cruise

If you are looking for honeymoon cruises with a difference, forgo the usual sun-soaked Caribbean cruises for an awe-inspiring fjords cruise.

Your cruise starts in Amsterdam, where you can soak up the sights, sounds and smells of this iconic Dutch capital over two days. From here, your journey begins on-board Holland America cruise ship, MS Koningsdam, which is headed towards the Norwegian fjords. Azure water, lush mountains and traditional villages will make you fall in love with this warm and welcoming country.

After touring the vibrant Norwegian capital of Bergen, you will board a plane headed for spectacular Iceland. The Blue Lagoon thermal springs, beautiful northern lights and thundering waterfalls await: sights guaranteed to take your breath away.

Borneo Nature Reserve, Singapore, Thailand and Vietnam

Sunlight breaking over Malaysian mountains and paddy fields

Asia is a magical continent that is perfect for honeymoon cruises. After all, what could be more romantic than this melting pot of fascinating culture, amazing wildlife, unrivalled scenery and exciting cities?

This astounding 19 night adventure starts in Borneo. After enjoying a three night hotel stay complete with your very own private nature reserve, you will fly to Singapore where, after close encounters with elephants and leopards, you will board the indulgent Celebrity Constellation to cruise to Thailand. Here, crystalline water, tumbling waterfalls and stunning white beaches are the order of the day: the perfect pairing for serene tours around local temples and cultural landmarks. The same is true of Vietnam: an immersive port of call you will remember forever.

Throw in Asian cuisine that will make your taste buds dance for weeks to come, and this is a honeymoon cruise for the history books.

Machu Picchu, Quito and Galapagos Expedition

Llamas standing in front of Machu Picchu on a cruise excursion

Are you an adventurous pair of newlyweds? A South American odyssey is bound to be your idea of honeymoon cruise heaven.

From Peru’s colourful capital of Lima to Ecuador’s most famous natural landmark, the Galapagos Islands, you will explore some of the most beautiful scenery on earth. Climb Machu Picchu for sweeping views over the Peruvian mountains and stroll the colonial streets of Quito. From here, you will board the indulgent luxury cruise ship, Celebrity Xpedition®, on a voyage to the fascinating Galapagos Islands.

A Galapagos cruise is the perfect way to explore this area’s natural wonders. Evolving in isolation, Galapagos wildlife is famously weird and wonderful, and affords once-in-a-lifetime photo opportunities.

Your honeymoon is your chance to experience something truly relaxing, indulgent and exceptional. The cruises included in our Finest Collection are second-to-none, offering unmissable experiences and the opportunity to make memories you will both treasure forever.

If you have any questions about our Finest Collection, or would like to speak to someone about adding a more personalised touch to one of our other cruise deals, call our Cruise Concierge on 0207 980 2847.

Imagine a beautiful personalised wedding ceremony on the sea: a stress-free event you’ll treasure forever. After sealing your nuptials with a kiss, you and your beloved step out on deck to be greeted by a beautiful expanse of sparkling sea. This is a cruise ship wedding, and it is glorious.

While rising in popularity, wedding cruises are still one of the more unusual ways to tie the knot, throwing up a good few questions about logistics. Thankfully, we are on hand to fill you in on what to expect when getting married on a cruise ship.

A hassle-free ceremony

Couple holding hands after wedding cruise

Cruise ship weddings are perfect for couples who want the planning process to be as simple as possible. After all, there is nothing worse than feeling too stressed out to enjoy such a life-changing event.

Most cruise lines offer full service wedding cruise packages, taking the hassle out of planning. Many ships even have their own on-board chapel! Alternatively, you can get married at one of your ports of call, but either way, your cruise line will arrange everything from musicians and cakes to flowers, confetti and wedding photographs.

Indulgent extras

Woman having a massage in cruise ship spa

Getting married on a cruise ship offers the perfect opportunity to cater to your indulgent side. After all, you’ll have a whole range of additional extras to choose from.

Just some of the bonuses can include a reception hosted by the Captain themselves, commemorative formal photographs, cosy bathrobes to take back home, luxurious spa treatments, cabin upgrades and even champagne.

A family affair

Friends enjoying drinks at a wedding reciption

Your wedding is as much about spending time with your loved ones as it is about declaring your love for your other half. Cruise ship weddings offer the option of your family and friends joining you on-board, turning your big day into a proper trip away with all of your family and friends. From an intimate gathering to a full-on celebration, the choice is yours.

A honeymoon and wedding in one

Couple sitting together on a Caribbean beach

One of the best things about wedding cruises is being able to combine your wedding and honeymoon into one blissful journey. Honeymoons at sea are growing in popularity, with many cruise lines offering couples special honeymoon cruise certificates.

What could be more blissful than a wedding day of indulgent celebrations flowing straight into a honeymoon that takes in your dream ports of call? The pristine beaches of the Caribbean and serene atmosphere of Asia are just a few of our favourite honeymoon destinations.

A key regulation

Emerald Princess cruise ship sailing away from port

As with any ceremony, cruise ship weddings come complete with a few regulations. The main regulation is that, for the wedding license to be valid, your ship must be either in port or less than three miles from land. Not all cruise lines offer this, but you can rest assured that Celebrity Cruises and Princess Cruises offer legal, captain-led wedding ceremonies at sea.

A wedding cruise is the experience of a lifetime, embodying all of the luxury and romance you need to create memories you will treasure forever. With excellent facilities, mouth-watering cuisine and unrivalled entertainment, indulgence is a given.

Would you like to find out more about getting married on a cruise ship? Call our dedicated Cruise Concierge on 0207 980 2847 to find out more about on-board nuptials.

If you’re cruising with family, there’s no need to worry about anyone getting bored. The majority of cruise lines offer kids’ services, facilities and entertainment, to ensure even the little ones are kept entertained throughout the days and evenings. The majority of cruise lines also offer family-friendly staterooms and suites with additional beds/rooms/sofa beds/bathrooms, which not only save you money on the cost of your cruise fare, but keep the whole family together, yet are big enough to give you all the space you require.

We’ve picked out a few of our favourite cruise lines’ family propositions…

Royal Caribbean

Flow Rider

A brilliantly family-focused cruise line, Royal Caribbean’s offerings seem endless. From rock-climbing walls to surf machines, dodgems to basketball courts, there are some great activities. But it doesn’t end there for your kids.

Their Youth Programmes are fantastic, placing children in groups with others of similar ages giving them friends for the whole holiday. They can be taken for dinner with their club too, leaving you the opportunity to dine à deux, or you can take them for a hotdog at Johnny Rocket’s (and enjoy one yourself!). But you’ll never forget their faces when you take them to the DreamWorks Experience. Their award-winning Adventure Ocean® is already filled to the brim with exciting activities - just imagine how exciting it will be when their favourite characters pop in for some fun! These popular characters will interact with the kids in fun activities such as story time, dance parties and more.

Celebrity Cruises

Xbox

On-board Celebrity's ships you'll find dedicated Xbox stations and mobile consoles, creating one of the largest digital game and entertainment experiences at sea. Whether playing solo, or participating in an Xbox tournament or gaming theme night, there’s something for everyone in your family—from our youngest gamer to our most savvy teens. There is even programming for adults (but we won’t let the kids in on that little secret).

Celebrity cruises also have a programme for budding young directors and screenwriters where they will be taught how to create a film from scratch and there’s even an awards ceremony! There are fantastic youth programmes with activities arranged by age group, from games and treasure hunts for the little ones, to teens-only late night dances. There’s so much on-board to suit the whole family.

Norwegian Cruise Line

Spongebob

When it comes to keeping the kids happy, Norwegian Cruise Line have got it all covered. Offering an exclusive Nickelodeon entertainment programme, the only thing your children will have to complain about is going back home. Kids can take part in interactive game shows, eat breakfast with SpongeBob SquarePants and sing and dance at Dora’s Music Party.

Not only will the older kids love the on-board waterpark’s slides and tubes, but they will also have access to their own lounge area, where they can take part in Wii and Xbox challenges, team building and sports activities. Norwegian Cruise Line ensures that your children will be supervised by qualified childcare professionals, so you can relax in the knowledge that they are safe and sound. The entertainment doesn’t stop there, as NCL have recently introduced The Blue Men group as part of their world-class line-up, ensuring the perfect entertainment for all the family.

Sticking to their freestyle policy, you will find a host of suites and staterooms on-board your vessel, to ensure that you find the perfect accommodation for you and your family. The Private Haven, which is perfectly hidden on top of the ship, is a well-appointed suite, perfect for the privileged few. NCL’s suites and Penthouses offer spacious living areas, luxury bathrooms and your very own butler.

MSC Cruises

Doremi Castle

No one understands families better than MSC Cruises and they will ensure you and your loved ones enjoy every moment to the full. The Aqua Park, pools, water slide and games consoles are all included and much more.

The family will always be made to feel welcome with MSC Cruises – special welcomes, beepers and a whole programme of activities, social events and entertainment all combine to make it the perfect family holiday. Your children are free to explore a social life of their own, meeting new friends from around the world in a safe environment on a holiday they’ll never forget. As for the grown-ups, you can relax in the knowledge that your children are being looked after and are enjoying the time of their lives.

Carnival

Carnival golf

The award winning Carnival youth program is certainly one they are proud of and it’s not hard to see why. With pool parties, dance competitions, arts and crafts, video games, exclusive teen shore excursions, sleepovers and karaoke, your youngsters certainly won’t be bored on their holiday. Additionally, on-board you can expect waterslides, spray fountains, countless swimming pool and on Carnival Vista the first ever IMAX screen. In the evenings, Carnival ships truly come alive, when you can enjoy exceptional production shows in the show lounge

Here at Cruise118, we have a team of dedicated Cruise Concierge who are on-hand to help to plan every aspect of your cruise. If you'd like some help in choosing the ship that's best for your family, or any advice about the types of staterooms that are available to accommodate you, please don't hesitate to give us a call on 0207 980 2847.

Winter cruises are cheaper

Because families make up a big portion of the cruise market, there’s much less demand when children are in school. But cruise ships need to be filled all year round, meaning that you’ll find some of the best discounts outside of the school holiday periods.

Even when you consider passengers without children, many only take one cruise per year, and they opt for the summer season.  This leads to less demand for winter sailings, and this is when you’ll find cruises at a fraction of the price of the peak summer dates.

The reason most people automatically think of summer as the time to take a cruise is usually the weather. However, this only applies to cruises in Europe. Which leads us on to our next point

It’s the best time to cruise around Dubai and the Emirates

Dubai

Between June and September, the weather in Dubai usually reaches 40°C each day, and sometimes the mercury even hits 50°C. This can be too much for even the hardiest of sun-worshippers. However, in December, January and February, you’ll find temperatures are a more ambient 25°C, perfect for sightseeing and still warm enough to come back with a nice tan.

You’ll avoid hurricane season

Barbados

In the wake of Hurricane Matthew, which wreaked havoc on many Caribbean islands, hurricanes are a concern for many cruisers planning holidays around the Caribbean, Mexico and Bermuda. The Atlantic hurricane season runs from June to November.

Even if you avoid a ‘hurricane’ as such, strong winds and high swells can mean that your ship may have to divert and miss out certain ports of call. With extra sea days, and outside decks closed off, your holiday can suffer if bad weather strikes. Although inclement weather can happen at any time of year, you’ll find the lowest chance of hurricanes and storms in February – making it the ideal time to visit the Caribbean.

The scenery of Northern Europe is stunning

magdalenefjorden

Another place that we recommend to enjoy a cruise in the winter is Northern Europe. The magnificent scenery of the Norwegian Fjords is made even more beautiful when the mountains are snow-capped. You’ll also find some fabulous winter activities on offer; such as dog-sledding and snowmobiling.

The Northern Lights, which are best viewed between October and March, are a phenomenon that everyone should experience at least once in their lifetime. Avoiding light pollution gives you the best view – making a cruise ship at sea the perfect place from which to see them.

Cruise ships are less crowded

Magellan

While it’s unlikely that your ship will be empty, you’ll definitely notice a less crowded atmosphere on-board outside of the peak summer season; particularly for Mediterranean itineraries. You’ll have the advantage of not queueing for lifts or restaurants, better seats during the evening entertainment shows and a hassle-free experience when finding a sun lounger.

Ports of call are less crowded

Rome

Similarly, sightseeing out of season can be a much more pleasurable experience. You won’t have to worry about queuing or getting tickets in advance for the popular tourist attractions. Some of Europe’s cities can get very hot and crowded in summer, so visiting in winter can be a much less claustrophobic experience.

There are fewer children on-board

carnival-pool-couple

If you’re looking for a relaxing cruise, winter is your best bet. With the children at school, you’ll likely find older, more sophisticated passengers on the ship. So if you’re looking to enjoy the pool without getting splashed, or enjoy a game of mini golf without kids getting in the way, a winter cruise is recommended.

You can do your Christmas shopping

Paris Christmas Market

Here’s an idea – why not cruise in November and December and do all your Christmas shopping on the continent? In Europe's cosmopolitan cities, you’ll find some fabulous Christmas markets and shops selling unique gifts. Plus, if you’re sailing from the UK, you won’t have to worry about a luggage allowance; meaning that you can stock up on as many gifts as you can fit under the bed in your stateroom.

Celebrate Christmas and New Year on-board

Surfing Santa

Christmas and New Year can be a wonderful time to enjoy a cruise. You’ll find the ships decorated in style to create a lovely festive atmosphere on-board. Enjoy a top-class Christmas Day meal at no extra charge, and you’ll even have the pleasure of avoiding any washing up (or relatives, if this is a concern!)

Give yourself something to look forward to

Couple on balcony

January can be one of the most depressing times of the year. It’s for that reason that it’s the most popular time make a cruise booking, with cruises departing later in the year. Why not reverse that trend and book your cruise in advance to depart in January or February? That way you’ll have something nice to look forward to once the festive period is over. A great way to beat those winter blues!

If you'd like any advice about the best time of year to visit certain destinations, or any help with booking your cruise, our cruise concierge team are on hand to help. Just give us a call on 0207 980 2847.

Perhaps you've cruised before as a couple and are planning your first voyage with a family in tow? Or maybe you've taken your little one for a hotel stay but never on a ship? Whatever your situation, if you're taking a cruise holiday with a baby or toddler, it pays to plan ahead.

Packing for babies can be a mammoth job even for a short trip. So to save you some time, we've produced this handy list of things you need might need during your cruise getaway.

 

Pram

This is a must. Even if your toddler prefers to walk, most cruise ships are pretty big, so they’ll probably get tired of walking whilst on-board, not to mention during excursions. A comfy pram will also give them somewhere to take a nap if you don’t plan on returning to your stateroom for nap time. Taking a cheap umbrella-folding buggy could be a better choice than your usual bulky pram, as you’ll need to fold it up any time you board a coach, mini-bus, plane or tender boat.

 

Baby carrier

A baby carrier or sling is sometimes preferable to a pram, depending on what you and your baby are used to. If you’re travelling by plane, you’ll have to check in your pram, and may then have some distance to walk through the airport before you get it back at the other side – a baby carrier can come in very handy at this point.

 

Car seat

Why would you need a car seat on a ship? Well you won’t, bit if you’re travelling by coach or taxi during your journey from home to the ship, or on excursions, you’ll probably feel safer to use it than to sit your baby on your lap. You aren’t limited by luggage restrictions on the ship, and most airlines let you take a car seat for free in addition to your luggage allowance.

 

Inflatable baby bath

This is necessary for two reasons. Firstly, most staterooms have showers rather than baths - and giving a baby a shower in a cramped bathroom is likely to be unpleasant for both of you. Secondly, you can take it poolside to create a private paddling pool for your tot. Children in swimming nappies aren’t allowed in cruise ship pools for hygiene reasons, so their own paddling pool is vital if they like to splash around.

 

Baby food and formula

Some cruise lines will puree food for babies, but it’s generally easier to take your own. Make sure that you take enough baby milk for the trip. Check that your stateroom has a kettle if you'll need to boil water - you can also get boiled water in most bars and restaurants. A few of the ready-made bottles are sure to come in handy for during excursions as well.

 

Bottles and steriliser

Take as many bottles as your baby uses in 24 hours. That way you’ll only have to do the washing up once per day. If you usually sterilise at home, you’ll probably want to continue this while you’re away. Sterilising tablets are recommended for this job, as they don’t take up much room and can be used with any large container.

 

Washing up equipment

You’ll want to wash your child’s bottles and sippy cups each day in your stateroom, so remember to pack sponges, brushes and washing-up liquid. You probably won’t be able to buy these on-board.

 

Bibs

Imagine the scene – you’ve dressed your toddler up in a cute yellow dress for formal night, and then you head to the buffet where she demands spaghetti bolognese. You’ll definitely be needing a bib for that – a tucked-in napkin just won’t cut it. The best kind of bibs are probably the plastic ones which you can wipe clean with a baby wipe at the end of each meal. Some even roll up to save space. Although some people find that disposable paper bibs are preferred as you can throw them away after dessert.

 

Plates, bowls, cups and cutlery

Whilst most cruise lines will have some plastic plates and bowls on hand – it’s better to be prepared – especially if your little one is a ‘thrower’. Carrying your own can save you from asking every time you visit the buffet or snack bar.

 

Nappies, wipes and nappy bags

Most cruise ships don’t sell nappies and wipes on-board, so it’s important to bring your own. Check the cruise line’s policy on swimming nappies. They’re generally not allowed in the main pools, but may be allowed in certain splash pools in the kids’ area.

 

Portable changing mat

You’ll find plenty of baby-changing facilities on-board your ship. However, whilst on land, the same facilities may not be available, depending on the country and places you’re visiting. If you’re forced to change your baby on a toilet floor, beach or coach, you’ll be glad of a changing mat! So take a small, fold up one for emergencies.

 

Medications

Even if your child is rarely ill, packing some Calpol, nappy rash cream, teething gel and a thermometer is a good idea as you may struggle to get these items on-board.

 

Sun protection

Sun cream, hats and sunglasses are all a must for little ones in warm destinations, and much cheaper to buy before you board. Babies should avoid direct sunlight altogether, so a clip-on umbrella or sun-shade for the pram can also be handy.

 

Toys

Yes, there’s lots to do on-board, but much of this is geared at the over 3s. There’ll be plenty of times when you’ll want your child to be kept busy so that you can enjoy a meal or a drink in peace. You’ll also want to keep them entertained during your journey from home to the port – so take a new toy which they haven’t seen before.

 

Tablet

Parents these days will wonder how people coped before iPads were invented. From calming a screaming toddler in a restaurant, to entertaining them with an hour or two of ‘Peppa Pig’ during a flight, many mums and dads choose to abandon their rules on limiting screen time whilst on holiday. Come 10pm when you want a cocktail, letting your little one watch ‘In The Night Garden’ in the pram can be preferable to pacing up and down the ship trying to lull them to sleep.

Do you have any more ideas for what to pack for your cruise holiday with young children? Let us know in the comments below.

Here at Cruise118, we have experts on hand to help you plan the perfect cruise for your family. For advice about any specific cruise, or prices on the most suitable family staterooms for your needs, please don't hesitate to give us a call on 0207 980 2847.

If you're planning a cruise with children under 3, it's important to plan ahead. Choosing the right cruise line for your family can make all the difference to your holiday. Will your little ones be allowed in the kids club? Can they go in the pool? And what facilities are available for babies and toddlers in the restaurants?

We've picked out the best cruise lines for families with under 3s, based on the facilities they offer...

P&O Cruises

P&O Night Nursery
Why P&O Cruises are great for little ones…

  • The kids club takes kids as young as two
  • When you leave young children in the kids club you get a pager in case you need to be contacted
  • There are soft play areas where parents can take under 2s
  • Free babysitting is available between 6pm and 2am for kids aged 6 months to 5 years
  • Restaurant staff can provide baby food and puree fruit and veg
  • Bottle warmers and baby bathtubs are provided on request

The negatives…

  • There’s no in-cabin babysitting available
  • Children who are not toilet trained and are wearing swimming nappies are not allowed in any of the pools

Cunard Line

Cunard Kids' Club

Why Cunard is great for little ones…

  • There are nurseries open from 6pm to 11pm, where children aged under 2 are looked after free of charge, with pagers available for parents
  • The kids' club takes children as young as two – for most cruise lines they have to be three and toilet trained
  • The library has some great kids’ books which you can take away to read
  • The restaurants serve baby food and will also blend food on request

Any negatives?

  • There’s no babysitting past 11pm and no in-cabin babysitting
  • The in-cabin TVs don’t have any kids’ channels
  • Children who are not toilet trained and are wearing swimming nappies are not allowed in any of the pools

Carnival Cruise Line

Camp Ocean

Why Carnival is great for little ones...

  • The kids' club takes kids as young as two
  • When you leave young children in the kids' club you get a pager in case you need to be contacted
  • Evening activities are available until 10pm for kids aged 2-5
  • There are designated play times for children under 2 on sea days, accompanied by parents they can explore the toys provided
  • Dining rooms have kids’ menus, milk, activity books and crayons
  • Carnival’s standard cabins are pretty large, with some sleeping up to 5 people.
  • The Cartoon Network is available on in-room televisions
  • Single and double buggies are available to hire

Any negatives?

  • No in-cabin babysitting is available. Children two and older can be babysat in the kids club until 3am, but they will be among older children watching movies.
  • Children who are not toilet trained and are wearing swimming nappies are not allowed in any of the pools
  • Baby food and formula cannot be bought on board, and they won’t puree food for you

Royal Caribbean

Royal Caribbean babies

Why Royal Caribbean is great for little ones…

  • Royal Babies and Royal Tots nurseries offer daytime and evening childcare for babies as young as 6 months, for an additional fee of $8 per hour
  • Playgroups are available for parents to attend with under-3s
  • Under-3s can borrow Fisher-Price toys to play with in their staterooms and books from the ship’s library
  • Children over 2 can drive Barbie Jeeps on Oasis and Freedom class ships
  • Babysitting is available in your staterooms between 8am and 2am at a cost of $19 per hour for up to three children
  • Oasis and Freedom class ships offer inside cabins that sleep up to six people and suites that sleep up to 14
  • In-room televisions offer three kids’ TV channels including Boomerang and the Cartoon Network
  • Children wearing swimming nappies can play in the specially designed Baby Splash Zone which can be found on Freedom and Oasis class ships

The negatives…

  • The free kids’ club is only available to children aged 3 and over
  • Children who are not toilet trained are not allowed in the ship’s pools, hot tubs or the H2O Zone

MSC Cruises

MSC babies

Why MSC Cruises are great for little ones…

  • MSC is the only cruise line to have no minimum age for babies. For most others it’s 6 months or 1 year depending on the itinerary
  • Children sail for free on selected sailings
  • There’s a playgroup available for under-3s during certain times, when accompanied by parents
  • One and two year olds can be left in the kids club between 1pm and 2pm and 6pm and 7pm each day

Any negatives?

  • The kids’ club is only available to children aged 3 and over
  • Babysitting isn’t available
  • Children who are not toilet trained are not allowed in any of the pools

If you're travelling with small children, it's important that you make sure that everything about your cruise matches your needs. This is where our cruise concierge team can help. We can find the best family deals, ensure you book the right cabin type and answer all your questions about cruising with children. Just give us a call on 0207 980 2847.

Cruising from the UK is a great option for people enjoying cruises in Europe, around the Mediterranean or even further afield. When it comes to convenience and cost, it can't be beaten. But how many of these little-known facts about UK cruising were you aware of?

There’s a wider choice of cruises than ever before

Emerald Princess

The number of cruises departing from the UK is increasing every year, with record numbers of passengers departing from UK shores . The cruise lines are keen to meet this demand, sending more and more of their best ships on exciting new itineraries.

International cruise line Princess Cruises have announced that 2018 will be their biggest year yet for cruises from the UK – with over 1 million cruise nights available. Embracing all things British, their flagship, Royal Princess, will offer cruises around the UK with overnight stays in Dublin, Glasgow and Edinburgh. They’ll also have a host of other new itineraries available, including cruises from Dover which call at some of the most popular capital cities in Europe.

You have a choice of ports to cruise from

cruise-liverpool

You’d be forgiven for thinking that the port of Southampton is your only option when taking a cruise from the UK. It’s true that a whopping 90% of passengers set sail from Southampton when departing from the UK, but there are other options available.

The London Cruise Terminal, located in Tilbury, is a popular choice for cruisers living in the capital. Those living in the North East of England may opt for Newcastle International Cruise Terminal. When heading to Northern Europe, you can save a day’s sailing each way compared to travelling from the South.

A variety of smaller ports offer cruises from the UK too, including departures from Scotland and Northern Ireland.

It’s cheaper than a fly-cruise

schooner-bar-1200x628

As you don’t need to pay for a flight, the majority of cruises from the UK will come at a cheaper cost than a fly-cruise. Great news for those on a budget, you can often get UK cruises for under £500 per person. When you consider how much you’d spend on accommodation, food and entertainment on a week-long hotel break in the UK, a cruise can be a much cheaper option.

You have no restrictions on luggage

luggage 

If your cruise doesn’t include flights, you can generally bring as much luggage as you like! But before you get carried away with the packing, remember that you’ll need to store your cases in your stateroom, and depending on which grade you book, space may be limited. Also, if you’re planning on travelling by car, taxi or coach, you’ll need to make sure that your cases can fit.

Most of your fellow passengers will be Brits

carnival-pool-couple

If you prefer the company of fellow Brits whilst on holiday, then a cruise departing from the UK is the way to go, as you’ll find that the majority of passengers tend to be British. Exceptions to this may be cruises around the UK itself, which are popular with other nationalities, especially Americans, who like to explore the UK and enjoy our rich history.

The proportion of UK cruisers to other nationalities on-board will vary by cruise line. Some cruise lines, such as MSC Cruises, are popular with Europeans who may board the ship at various points along the itinerary. If you’re determined that you’d prefer British cruisers on your ship – opt for P&O cruises – this British-owned cruise line sells the vast majority of its cruises to Brits. You’ll even find a 94-metre Union Flag painted on the bow of most ships.

You can have two holidays in one

Stonehenge

Cruising from the UK gives you the option to create your own personalised cruise and stay holiday – and take advantage of the attractions that our homeland offers. Close to Southampton you’ll find the historic monuments of Stonehenge, the New Forest National Park with its wild ponies and the beautiful the Isle of Wight to name but a few. Those travelling with children could take the opportunity to visit Peppa Pig World or the seaside town of Bournemouth.

If you’re travelling a distance by car to start your cruise, you might opt to break up the journey with an overnight hotel stay or two along the way. Visit a new city, or admire the rolling countryside views, the UK is your oyster!

You can get fly-cruise packages on cruises sailing from the UK

Flight

When sailing from Southampton, you'll need to consider how to get to the port. If you live a few hundred miles away, flying to Southampton Airport could be a cheaper option than driving or taking the train.

Here at Cruise118, we have a team of dedicated cruise concierge who can put together a package cruise holiday that's tailored to your needs. So if you'd like to get a price that included flights from your local airport to the city that your cruise departs from, be sure to mention this when you call, and we'll help you weigh up the options.

For expert advice on choosing and booking your cruise, please give us a call on 0207 980 2847 and our expert cruise concierge team will be happy to help.