These are really exciting times for the cruise industry which continues to grow at a steady pace.
There are sixteen spectacular new Ocean ships and 11 River cruise ships scheduled for launch in 2018, and the UK is getting very close to reaching its 2 million cruise passenger mark. Britain is the third largest cruise market in the world after the US and Germany, and perhaps as a result of increasing public frustration with airlines – from check-in IT glitches, bulk flight cancellations to flight company collapses – more people than ever before are looking at cruises as a great stress-free holiday option. Cruise lines continue to roll out new on-board activities and programmes to appeal to all ages, and expedition small-ship cruises are certainly increasing in popularity.
In fact, for those with physical limitations, an expedition cruise is a great choice to experience a truly epic holiday adventure. More cruise lines are departing to exotic climes directly from the UK – and from a number of easily accessible, new, regional departure ports too, such as Falmouth, Newcastle, Liverpool and Swansea – so UK travellers really can avoid all the hassle of air travel. A number of cruise lines have also introduced special onboard features that enhance the experience for travellers with disabilities. Whether it’s accessible cabins that open automatically, lifts in all the right places, fully accessible toilets and public areas, or just a dedicated, personal customer service, many cruise lines really do know how to provide the best comfort for those with most types of physical limitations.
Exciting Expedition Cruises
There are currently some really exciting expedition cruise itineraries available that promise something for all great adventurers. For those that love wildlife, the Galapagos is a perfect, year-round destination. A visit to the Ecuadorian islands is a science fiction adventure – with the ship acting as a time machine, as you visit a prehistoric land of volcanic eruptions, alien cactus trees, swimming iguanas, flightless birds and tortoises of lumbering immensity. A cruise is the perfect way to review the remarkable evolutionary variations of a number of islands, and offers a truly, immersive experience for wild-life spotting. December through February is the mating season for turtles, tortoises and sea lions – a perfect opportunity to record unforgettable wildlife scenes.
For those wanting a warmer experience, Africa offers a broad array of cruising possibilities. Wedged between the Atlantic and Indian Oceans and capped off by the Mediterranean Sea, Africa features a stunning and generous coastline.
Cruises to Africa
Cruises provide a practical and exciting way of getting acquainted with Africa’s rich native cultures, legendary landscapes – from rolling dunes to sweeping savannas to rain forest-blanketed isles – and majestic wildlife. An exotic adventure there awaits, all from a comfortable floating home base. You can choose your cruise based on your interests – nature and wildlife scouting are top attractions in Africa, so you might want to sync up your sailing to coordinate with safari opportunities in game reserve hot spots like South Africa or Kenya. Perhaps you want to bask on glorious beaches, explore coastal deserts and dunes; or set out in search of rain forest biodiversity – such as in Madagascar?
Wherever you cruise, you’ll be guaranteed evocative memories and illuminating insights that are distinctly African. A cruise holiday makes the logistics of any trip there nearly seamless. The hardest part is deciding which area to see first and with what cruise line.
Cold Water Alaska Cruises
For those that aren’t bothered by the cold, then Alaska is an intriguing, culturally diverse destination with thousands of miles of scenic coastline that make it a natural draw for cruise ships. Cruise travellers can readily enjoy the history and the frontier ambience of the 49th US state, but its wildlife and scenery are the main attractions. Towering mountains, massive glaciers, tranquil – and often turbulent – waterways, countless acres of rainforest and Arctic tundra are the magnets for cruise passengers.
Whales, eagles, bears, moose, seals and seabirds may be seen from your ship, in port or on a shore tour. Alaska is a cruise destination unlike any other, showcasing a side of the United States that’s rarely seen – still truly wild and open to endless adventure.
Bigger Isn’t Always Better
Rugged expedition ships are usually smaller ships, where passenger counts are always less than 300. Beyond offering a cosier atmosphere, the small size of these cruise ships creates a whole different experience, both onshore and onboard. Smaller ships allow easy access to tinier, less-trafficked ports that the bigger vessels just can’t get to, lending to refreshingly unique itineraries. Onboard, the crowd-free experience is predictably more intimate and social and you can expect a much more personalised service from the crew. Similarly, food quality is often superior as they are catering for fewer passengers. Small-ship cruises tend to provide destination-driven itineraries that are usually enhanced by enrichment programs and hosted excursions which can often be led by the likes of specialist historians, naturalists and other seasoned pros.
There is whole world out there ready to be explored, regardless of your physical capabilities, and a cruise might just be the best option to get to see and understand more of it, than other travelling alternatives.
By Adam Coulter, UK Managing Editor, Cruise Critic
Adam has worked in the travel industry for over 18 years, and has been a cruise specialist for the past eight years writing for the UK’s leading trade and consumer publications. He offers excellent insight into the cruise industry, along with current trends and important issues impacting cruisers. Adam and had been featured extensively in the national print, online and broadcast media and has spoken at many travel events, across the globe.