Cruising: There's never been a better time to take to the high seas

A cruise offers the chance to enjoy a grand tour of exciting destinations without endless unpacking. Don't let recent events put you off these good-value holidays

What's the attraction?

The number of destinations you might visit in one trip, a high standard of accommodation and range of entertainment on board give a cruise pulling power. However, the cost of some might put you off – take a top suite with Cunard (0843 374 2224; on the Queen Mary 2 for the week-long crossing from Southampton to New York and you'll be looking at £12,139 a head. But there are more affordable options.

The sinking of the Costa Concordia marked a tragic start to the year and bookings have been hit: the rate of £100 per person per night has been typical, but some cruise firms are now selling at £80 or less.

Keep your eye out for deals. Costa Cruises (0845 351 0552; is selling the 2 May 10-night Mediterranean departure on Costa Magica, taking in Palermo, Athens, Izmir, Rhodes, Malta and Marseille, for £699 – though you need to get yourself to Livorno, where it starts and ends (It's an easy hop to nearby Pisa). Or you can get a seven-night cruise of the Norwegian fjords on the Ryndam with Holland America Line (0845 351 0557; for £498 per person, departing Dover on 30 June and calling at Eidfjord, Alesund, Geirangerfjord and Bergen. And a seven-night cruise of Venice and the Greek isles with Norwegian Cruise Line (0845 201 8900;, is £541 per person, with flights from Gatwick.


In the mainstream

Britain's big, mainstream tour operators started selling their own cruises in 1994, but now only Thomson (0871 231 3243; caters for the middle market, on a range of mostly smaller, older ships that are well regarded by their clientele. Prices also include all tips. The company has a seven-night Moorish Delights tour on Thomson Spirit, visiting ports including Casablanca, Gibraltar and Tangier, for £550 per person with flights from Gatwick to Palma de Mallorca on 12 May and full board.


Windows of opportunity

Make the most of limited-period special offers. Royal Caribbean International (0844 493 4005; is running a "Don't Wait – Book Now" promotion until 30 April, including deals such as a seven-night Western Mediterranean cruise on Adventure of the Seas from £599 per person, including flights. Also until 30 April, MSC Cruises (0844 561 7412; has a special "second passenger for £1" promotion. Deals include a Mediterranean Pearls cruise for £759 for the first passenger – or £760 for two people – which equates to just £380 per person.


Join the club

Making repeat cruises with the same operator is the key to unlocking more benefits. Most run loyalty schemes, enrolling guests to encourage them to return and amass points for rewards such as priority access to upgrades. Princess Cruises (0843 373 0333; includes reduced deposits and extra discounts on sailings among the benefits enjoyed by its Captain's Circle members. Current best deals to which these can be applied include a 12-night Grand Mediterranean cruise, departing Venice on 11 June, from £898 per person (flights extra).


Let me entertain you

Cruise lines are offering innovative ways to pass the time between ports, often for free or a small supplement. Some offer learning programmes featuring eminent speakers. Celebrity Cruises (0844 493 2043; offers language lessons. Passengers can also enjoy fine dining for as little as £5 to £30 at restaurants run by Michelin-starred chefs, for example Nobu Matsuhisa on Crystal. A four-night trip on P&O Ventura, departing Southampton for Zeebrugge, Le Havre and St Peter Port, costs from £449, with an extra £25 to dine in The White Room by Marco Pierre White.


Who said that?

"A life on the ocean wave." – Henry Russell.

"Cruising has two pleasures. One is to go out in wider waters from a sheltered place. The other is to go into a sheltered place from wider waters." – Howard Bloomfield, author.

"It isn't that life ashore is distasteful to me. But life at sea is better." – Sir Francis Drake


Time is money

Cruise companies want their ships filled and early booking is often rewarded with the best deals. Crystal Cruises (020-7287 9040; has introduced "Book Now" fares, giving a two-month window to buy a 2012 cruise on Crystal Symphony and Crystal Serenity at the lowest price available at that time. Booking your next cruise while you're still aboard is another way companies try to tempt travellers. It wins an extra 5 per cent discount with Oceania Cruises (0845 505 1920;, knocking a further £44.95 off the £899 price of its 13 August 10-day cruise from Rome to Venice.


Look who's talking

Experts and celebrities frequently give talks on cruises. Florist Paula Pryke, who counts the actress Kate Winslet as a client, will be on Crystal Serenity in July ( Jean-Michel Cousteau, oceanographer and environmentalist, will speak and join guests on dives on four sailings in the South Pacific with Paul Gauguin Cruises (020-7434 0089; The ornithologist and wildlife expert Peter Holden will be with Saga Cruises (0800 096 0079; And award-winning TV director and producer Terry Hughes will sail with Silversea Cruises (0844 251 0837; in December.


The generation game

Attempts to woo families are being met with value-added services that go beyond kids' clubs and discounts. P&O (0845 355 4444; admits children on board some of its sailings and has a free nursery from 6pm to 2am for under-fives. Disney Cruise Line (0800 028 3179; has just launched its "World Moms Panel", where mothers from around the world offer advice about family cruises, with a specific section on budgeting. It offers seven nights cruising the Caribbean, departing Port Canaveral on 21 July for £4,463 per family of four sharing.


Insider information

"Consider what's going on in the rest of the world. Thanksgiving week is a really good time for Brits to travel to the Caribbean, because there's low-occupancy as Americans stay at home. And if you're trying to save money on a cruise and want to try a nicer ship than you might ordinarily afford, choose an unpopular route." Sue Bryant, UK contributing editor, Cruise Critic (

The Independent travel offers: Discover a world of inspiring destinations

people Emma Watson addresses celebrity nude photo leak
Katie Hopkins appearing on 'This Morning' after she purposefully put on 4 stone.
peopleKatie Hopkins breaks down in tears over weight gain challenge
peopleHis band Survivor was due to resume touring this month
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Arts and Entertainment
Robert De Niro, Martin Scorsese and DiCaprio, at an awards show in 2010
filmsAll just to promote a new casino
In this photo illustration a school student eats a hamburger as part of his lunch which was brought from a fast food shop near his school, on October 5, 2005 in London, England. The British government has announced plans to remove junk food from school lunches. From September 2006, food that is high in fat, sugar or salt will be banned from meals and removed from vending machines in schools across England. The move comes in response to a campaign by celebrity TV chef Jamie Oliver to improve school meals.
people'It can last and it's terrifying'
Arts and Entertainment
Life and Style
fashionModel of the moment shoots for first time with catwalk veteran
ebookHow to enjoy the perfect short break in 20 great cities
Tom Cleverley
footballLoan move comes 17 hours after close of transfer window
Alexis Sanchez, Radamel Falcao, Diego Costa and Mario Balotelli
footballRadamel Falcao and Diego Costa head record £835m influx
Life and Style
fashionAngelina Jolie's wedding dressed revealed
Boris Johnson may be manoeuvring to succeed David Cameron
Independent Travel Videos
Independent Travel Videos
Simon Calder in Amsterdam
Independent Travel Videos
Simon Calder in Giverny
Independent Travel Videos
Simon Calder in St John's
Independent Travel Videos
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

ES Rentals

    iJobs Job Widget
    iJobs Travel

    Marketing Executive / Member Services Exec

    £20 - 26k + Benefits: Guru Careers: A Marketing Executive / Member Services Ex...

    Sales Account Manager

    £15,000 - £25,000: Recruitment Genius: A fantastic opportunity has arisen for ...

    VB.NET and C# developer (VB.NET,C#,ASP.NET)

    £30000 - £45000 per annum + Bonus+Benefits+Package: Harrington Starr: VB.NET a...

    Business Development Manager / Sales Pro

    £30 - 35k + Uncapped Comission (£70k Y1 OTE): Guru Careers: A Business Develop...

    Day In a Page

    Stolen youth: Younger blood can reverse many of the effects of ageing

    Stolen youth

    Younger blood can reverse many of the effects of ageing
    Bob Willoughby: Hollywood's first behind the scenes photographer

    Bob Willoughby: The reel deal

    He was the photographer who brought documentary photojournalism to Hollywood, changing the way film stars would be portrayed for ever
    Angelina Jolie's wedding dress: made by Versace, designed by her children

    Made by Versace, designed by her children

    Angelina Jolie's wedding dressed revealed
    Anyone for pulled chicken?

    Pulling chicks

    Pulled pork has gone from being a US barbecue secret to a regular on supermarket shelves. Now KFC is trying to tempt us with a chicken version
    'I’ll tell you what I would not serve - lamb and potatoes': US ambassador hits out at stodgy British food served at diplomatic dinners

    'I’ll tell you what I would not serve - lamb and potatoes'

    US ambassador hits out at stodgy British food
    Radio Times female powerlist: A 'revolution' in TV gender roles

    A 'revolution' in TV gender roles

    Inside the Radio Times female powerlist
    Endgame: James Frey's literary treasure hunt

    James Frey's literary treasure hunt

    Riddling trilogy could net you $3m
    Fitbit: Because the tingle feels so good

    Fitbit: Because the tingle feels so good

    What David Sedaris learnt about the world from his fitness tracker
    Saudis risk new Muslim division with proposal to move Mohamed’s tomb

    Saudis risk new Muslim division with proposal to move Mohamed’s tomb

    Second-holiest site in Islam attracts millions of pilgrims each year
    Alexander Fury: The designer names to look for at fashion week this season

    The big names to look for this fashion week

    This week, designers begin to show their spring 2015 collections in New York
    Will Self: 'I like Orwell's writing as much as the next talented mediocrity'

    'I like Orwell's writing as much as the next talented mediocrity'

    Will Self takes aim at Orwell's rules for writing plain English
    Meet Afghanistan's middle-class paint-ballers

    Meet Afghanistan's middle-class paint-ballers

    Toy guns proving a popular diversion in a country flooded with the real thing
    Al Pacino wows Venice

    Al Pacino wows Venice

    Ham among the brilliance as actor premieres two films at festival
    Neil Lawson Baker interview: ‘I’ve gained so much from art. It’s only right to give something back’.

    Neil Lawson Baker interview

    ‘I’ve gained so much from art. It’s only right to give something back’.
    The other Mugabe who is lining up for the Zimbabwean presidency

    The other Mugabe who is lining up for the Zimbabwean presidency

    Wife of President Robert Mugabe appears to have her sights set on succeeding her husband