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To cruise or not to cruise?

Tenele Conway

It is no secret that the Australian cruise industry is booming.

In a few short years, we went from having one ship based in Australia (shout out to the old Fairstar and the Pacific Sky) to having more than a dozen based in our waters on a permanent basis and many more passing through.

With more than one million Australians setting sail every year – a figure that is fast rising – we’re clearly are having a love affair with sailing the high seas…well some of us anyway. The rest of us are left wondering, what is this all about, why should I take a cruise for my next holiday?

There is no clear-cut answer to this question but I can lay out the pros and cons of cruising to help you make an informed decision.

Pros

Value for money

It is hard to beat cruising for value. In your upfront cost you have your accommodation, entertainment, and meals all covered and all you have to worry about is shore excursions (which are optional) and possibly tipping depending on which cruise line you travel with. This makes it very easy to budget for and with the prices starting at less than $100 per person per night for all of this it becomes a very good value holiday.

A Floating Resort

If a resort holiday is what you are after then cruise ships are the ultimate resorts. With multiple pools, dozens of bars and all-day entertainment and activities everything you could ever need is all in one place. Cruise lines are also getting more savvy to their customers desires. Chefs like Jamie Oliver, Curtis Stone and Mark Best have all put their names to restaurants at sea which is a nice change from the never ending buffets of the old days.

Transportation to exotic destinations

With all that cruise ships offer it is easy to forget that it is a means to an end. Cruise ships are a mode of transport and can take you almost anywhere in the world. Port Days, as they are known onboard, are your chance to step off the ship into a different world. The cruise companies do arrange activities and tours that you can purchase at an additional cost or you can make your own arrangements on shore, just make sure you are back onboard before the ship sails.

Kids Club

Most of the ships based in Australia offer extensive kids club programs. These are divided into age groups so they kids are catered for with activities appropriate to their age and they will have the children entertained morning and night.

Cons

One of the crowd

Cruise ships are getting bigger and bigger, the Ovation of the Seas which will grace our shores later this year and has a maximum capacity of just under 5000 passengers, not to mention the staff. With that many people in a confined space things you can develop a little cabin fever and without free rein to leave as you please on ‘sea days’ it can be a confining holiday.

Not a joiner?

To really enjoy a cruise and all it offers you need to be a joiner. Bingo at 3pm, trivia at 4pm, themed party at 6pm, dinner at a shared table at 8pm…you get the idea. This is not a holiday for the socially awkward.

Limited time on shore

If you are the sort of traveler who wants to really experience a destination, eat with the locals, spend hours wandering the streets and get to know a place in depth, a cruise is not for you. Most shore days are from 9am until 4pm and once you’re back onboard the ship sets sail.

Seasickness

It doesn’t affect everyone but it is real and it can be brutal. Everyone has their own tricks to combat seasickness and if it gets bad enough the ship’s doctor can administer an injection that is quite effective but it is something to consider – how good are your sea legs?

Hot Tips

  • If you are unsure if cruising is for you take a weekend cruise to see how you like it before committing to a cruise of a longer duration and larger monetary commitment. All the major cruise lines run three-night cruises affectionately called ‘Cruises to Nowhere’. You won’t get a feel for the port calls but you will get a taste of ship life to see if it something you want more of.
  • Do your research into which company is right for you. All of the cruise companies have different styles aimed at different audiences. You want to ensure the activities and amenities onboard cater to your tastes. There are specialists in family cruising like Carnival and Royal Caribbean. The modern luxury liners of Celebrity with their award-winning Celebrity Solstice based in Australia for some of the year. The tried and true Australian companies like P&O and Princess catering to various budgets and passengers. Head in to your local travel agency to get the full low-down on what is on offer and what is right for you.
  • Cruising is almost always on sale which does make it a fluctuating target that cannot be pinned down to a set price. When you see a price you are happy with buy it, it won’t stay around for long and you will go crazy continually checking for a better deal until you miss out altogether.

Now that you are armed with all the insider info on cruising go forth and holiday!

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Tenele Conway

Tenele Conway is a veteran of the Canberra Travel industry having worked in retail travel stores around the city for well over decade. Taking full advantage of the perks of the job she has travelled the world primarily at the expense of others and when she isn’t zip lining in Guatemala or cruising the Nile she is bringing together her two passions of world cuisines and travel on her blog www.hungryplanetblog.com. With a cookbook collection worthy of an episode of 'Hoarders' she sees a future as a travelling cookbook author, look out Rick Stein. More about the Author

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