In the past, flying has all been part of the whole holiday experience and an integral cog to the excitement of getting away. Nowadays however, since 9/11 particularly, the thought of taking a flight is by many, seen as more hassle than it’s worth. Busy airports, long check-in times, tight baggage restrictions, rises in Air Passenger Duty tax, tightened security, flight delays and strikes mean that people are understandably thinking twice about flying – not to mention those who have a fear of flying in the first place. So it’s no real wonder that taking a no-fly cruise sailing round-trip from the UK, is becoming such a popular choice.
For many UK cruise passengers, the ultimate draw of a sea voyage is not so much the endless dining options or wall-to-wall activities, but the simple delight of jumping into your car at a sociable hour and driving to your port of embarkation, where porters await to unload as much luggage as you care to pack with no excess baggage concerns. Before you know it, you’re on-board your floating hotel with a cocktail in hand and starting your holiday off in style.
P&O Cruises, Cunard, Fred. Olsen Cruise Lines and Cruise & Maritime Voyages continue to sail predominantly from the UK, however other major cruise lines such as Royal Caribbean International, Celebrity Cruises, MSC Cruises, Holland America and Princess Cruises have reacted to this demand. They have all increased the number of British port departures as well as basing larger ships in their fleets at UK ports. For example, Royal Caribbean’s Independence of the Seas, the second largest ship in the world now sails from Southampton throughout the year whilst Celebrity Cruises has based its new Solstice Class ship, Celebrity Eclipse in Southampton.
Whilst the Mediterranean remains the top destination for ex-UK cruise passengers, the choice of itineraries is extensive from more than 10 ports throughout the UK. As well as the Med, ships depart for the Baltic, Norway, Iceland and Greenland, the Canary Islands, Transatlantic, the Caribbean, the east coast of America and round the world plus of course, around the British Isles and Ireland. Durations range from two-night taster cruises to round the world voyages of over 100-nights. Southampton is the UK’s busiest cruise liner port with no fewer than 11 cruise lines offering ex-UK itineraries from there including P&O Cruises.
So it’s little wonder that the number of people choosing to cruise directly from the UK is so on the increase. With cruises from the UK, you start your holiday the moment you board the ship, so avoiding the hustle and bustle of crowded airports, and giving you more time to enjoy your holiday.
By Ian Lewis