Taking a cruise doesn’t mean you have to be all at sea. Cruise customers are increasingly discovering that the perfect way to spice up sailings is to turn their holiday into a cruise and stay by adding on a few days ashore.

This could mean chilling out on a Caribbean beach; chasing high-adrenaline thrills at Florida’s theme parks; or even joining high-rollers to place their bets in the bright lights of Las Vegas.

Added adventure

Royal Caribbean cruise guests on a whale watching trip in Alaska

Alaska

There is no end to the different ways of bringing a new dimension to cruise holidays, and travel companies are becoming increasingly imaginative when it comes to putting together exciting combinations.

The most popular option is the Rocky Mountaineer train ride that takes travellers through the mountainous backdrop of the Rockies to Seattle or Vancouver, before they jump aboard one of the many cruise ships sailing to the remote wilderness of Alaska.

It is a winning combination, but for many cruisers, just adding on a few nights in the cities where their cruises start or finish works well too.

Caribbean escapes

A Royal Caribbean cruise passenger standing in front of a waterfall in Puerto Rico

Puerto Rico

Florida is popular thanks to its myriad attractions and convenient location as a departure point for Caribbean cruises, with sailings from Miami, Fort Lauderdale and Port Canaveral.

The Caribbean also proves a natural setting for cruise and stays with passengers combining a week on islands such as Barbados or Jamaica with a seven-night voyage.

European immersion

Houses lining a canal in Bruges - a PO Cruises destination

Bruges

In Europe, Barcelona generally leads the field as a major cruise departure port with excellent air links, while the city itself and surrounding areas are prime tourist havens.

The romantic squares and bell towers of Venice make it an irresistible add-on to voyages that depart from here to sail around the Adriatic coast or Greek islands. For an extra classy twist, stays in the romantic city can be combined with a memorable journey aboard the Venice Simplon-Orient-Express to or from London.

Athens is another option for those wanting to explore its ancient antiquities before or after their voyage, while the ancient attractions of Rome are a strong choice as the cruise port of Civitavecchia is just 90 minutes away.

Further afield

Guests on the deck of Cunard's Queen Mary 2 on a transatlantic cruise to New York

New York

Across the pond, New York is a natural contender to twin with transatlantic sailings on-board Cunard’s classic ocean liner Queen Mary 2.

Soak up unforgettable views of Manhattan as you sail in just after dawn, or depart from the city knowing you can shop ‘til you drop in the days beforehand without having to worry about airline luggage restrictions.

In Asia, good flight connections mean it is easy to combine the frenetic buzz of cities like Hong Kong and Singapore before sailing away to explore the Far East’s more inaccessible regions along the coasts of Vietnam, Thailand, Indonesia and the Philippines.

A rise in sailings along the coastline of southern Africa with companies including Fred. Olsen Cruise Lines now add safari stays, while others include overnight stays on South Africa’s iconic Blue Train.

Cruise & stay in a new way

Uniworld's River Beatrice cruise ship sailing past Budapest

Budapest

Upscale lines such as Seabourn, Regent Seven Seas Cruises and Silversea have also added more land stays or, in Silversea’s case, a 'Couture Collection' of land adventures that vary from exploring Tibet to gorilla trekking in Rwanda.

River cruise companies are also jumping on the cruise and stay bandwagon, with the likes of AmaWaterways and Scenic offering packages that include pre or post stays in cities including Budapest, Prague and Zurich combined with European river voyages.

Further afield, lines such as APT, Viking River Cruises and Avalon Waterways generally incorporate hotel stays in Ho Chi Minh City and Siem Reap with sailings along the Mekong.

It simply proves there is no end to the choice of combinations out there – the only limit is your imagination.

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Sara Macefield
Sara Macefield
Sara Macefield is an award-winning travel journalist of more than 20 years standing, and has spent the last decade writing about the cruise industry – exploring the world's oceans and rivers on ships of all sizes. Having notched up more than 100 cruises, her most memorable trips have been to Alaska with its superb wildlife, and sailing along Burma’s remote Chindwin River to villages far off the tourist track. She writes regularly for The Times and Daily Telegraph and has written for the Daily Mail, The Guardian, Daily Express and Woman & Home Magazine.

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