Advice & Information
The ships are more spacious, even more luxurious
and ever more interesting.
If you are anything like us, you will have heard an increasing number of friends, relatives and colleagues discussing cruising as an exciting holiday alternative. The days of cruising being the preserve of the privileged few is long gone and no matter who you are (a family, couple, party animal, culture vulture, sophisticated senior, adventurous single or fanatical bridge player) there is a perfect cruise waiting for you.
The ships are also more spacious, even more luxurious and ever more interesting places to be as the industry invests literally billions in creating these impressive floating resorts. They aim to provide everything that a land based resort has to offer, turning the journey into as much part of the holiday as the destinations themselves. In addition, whereas the land based resort holiday is traditionally centred on one location, a cruise holiday has an almost limitless choice of destinations and itineraries.
Of course there are many reasons why people choose to cruise rather than go on alternative land based resort holidays:
- It’s a hassle-free holiday
- It takes you away from it all
- You’ll never have the opportunity to be more pampered
- You can visit a broad geographical area in one trip
- It represents fabulous value for money
- It’s an ideal place to make new friends
- It’s the perfect romantic holiday
- There’s a cruise to appeal to every taste
- A cruise is one of the safest ways to travel
- A cruise offers huge variety in activities, dining and entertainment
However, it is no surprise that the popularity of No Fly Cruising continues to grow as there are a number of factors in its favour that are particularly attractive to cruise virgins and experienced cruisers alike.
‘No Fly’ cruising is convenient
We live on an island and with no town more than 70 miles from the sea it is easy to get to one of the major ports. Even with the major sailings from the south coast the UK rail and road infrastructure makes getting to ports relatively easy and certainly considerably easier than flying abroad!
All of the major ports have invested in secure car parking facilities and all the major Cruise Lines make the transfer from car to ship as painless as possible.
The Cruise Lines have invested heavily in security to ensure the safety and comfort of their passengers and this has certainly been shown in recent surveys that compare cruises favourably against other forms of travel. But above all else Cruise Lines have an enviable safety record when compared to all other forms of transportation.
You don’t have to fly
Not unsurprisingly this is the most important reason as to why No Fly Cruising is becoming increasingly popular. Airport delays, cost, concerns over safety and worries over luggage all work in favour of No Fly Cruising.
You don’t have to suffer airports
Of course less time queuing and dealing with noisy departure lounges make cruises from the UK a perfect option for families where there are young children, or indeed groups organising a party of several people. The hassle free process of arriving at the departure port and boarding your ship makes for the perfect start to your holiday.
You don’t have to put up with ‘low cost’ service
With low cost airlines grabbing such a large slice of the market, most of us have experienced the misery of cramped seating, lack of customer service and ‘extra’ charges for everything from luggage to refreshments. A No Fly Cruise avoids all of this ensuring that your holiday commences as soon as you reach your UK departure port.
There are no luggage limitations
Another reason why regular cruisers prefer to No Fly Cruises is that they are able to take as much luggage as they wish on board. After all, it’s pretty difficult to get all your packing into one bag of less than 20kg at the best of times. If you are embarking on a longer cruise the restriction on weight becomes a pressing (and potentially expensive) issue if you have to pass through airport check-ins. But you do need to consider the storage space in the cabin as it may be more restricted than the amount of luggage you have packed!!
Each Cruise Line has a slightly different policy (and you will have to make sure that each single item of luggage weighs no more than 24kgs for health and safety reasons), but as a guide up to 90kg is generally perfectly acceptable!
You only go through security once
On all foreign holiday and fly cruises you are obliged to go through airport security up to four times (twice on the way out and twice on the way back). On a cruise this only happens once, at your departure port in the UK, cutting down on aggravation, stress and queuing!
Your holiday starts immediately
At your UK departure port your luggage is generally taken from you where you park or as you enter the departure hall – you then go through security and passport control and only see your luggage again in your cabin. And once on-board ship your holiday begins immediately because on a cruise your destination is just another stage in your itinerary, your journey is all part of the holiday by design.
You sail with like-minded passengers
On a No Fly Cruise the vast majority of your fellow cruisers will be British. The cruises are designed to appeal to the culinary and cultural tastes of British citizens, so you will be sailing with fellow travellers who are likely to have shared values and interests to those of your own.
Life on board
Life on board your cruise ship will depend on the Cruise Line, ship size, itinerary and style of cruise you have chosen. There are cruises designed to suit virtually every interest and personal preference.
Your holiday is the same length as the cruise duration
If you book a 7 day No Fly Cruise you arrive at the UK port on your first day and you arrive back to the UK on your last day, maximising your holiday time.
Unlike ‘fly’ cruises, you do not have to factor in travel time to an airport, check-in times, flight time, time-zone changes and extra time for potential delays that, without taking into consideration, could see you arrive at your port of departure to see your ship sailing off into the horizon.
And in such a circumstance be under no illusions, it is you who is responsible for the costs of getting to the next port of call in order to join your cruise.
So to ensure that this eventuality does not happen many fly cruises recommend that you arrive in your city of departure the day before your cruise departs, adding further hotel costs to your holiday expenditure.
It’s great value for money
With cruises from the UK you start your holiday the moment you board the ship, giving you even more time to enjoy your holiday. And without the cost of flights to take into consideration the value for money of a No Fly Cruise stands out.
When you are looking at a No Fly Cruise for the first time you need to take into consideration all of the costs of an alternative holiday option when making a value comparison. Then, when comparing, you will see that a No Fly Cruising holiday represents a superb value for money option.
Are all ships fairly similar?
Size does matter. Cruise ships range from intimate and yacht-like vessels catering for up to 100 passengers to ships stretching longer than three football fields where up to 5,000 passengers are on board. The facilities on board will also vary from ship to ship; you can enjoy atmospheres ranging from casual to formal, contemporary to classic. Enjoy the endless activities offered on a contemporary resort-style cruise from climbing walls and ice rinks to smaller ships where you have more of a personal and relaxed atmosphere.
Are there different classes of service?
Most cruise ships today are “one-class” where everyone can use all of the ship's facilities. The price is primarily based on the cabin size and location. Regardless of the category you book, you'll enjoy the same menus, activities and entertainment as everyone else on board.
There are several different grades of cabin on board cruise ships and this is the main factor that determines the cost of the cruise. All cabins have a separate bathroom with shower washbasin and toilet. Higher cabin grades normally have a full size bath mini bar fridge and personal safe. All cabin grades have supplies of soap, shampoo, conditioner and towels.
A basic guideline for cabin types:
This is the standard cabin and normally what the lowest (often published) cruise fare is based on. The cabins are situated on the inside of the ship so you have no windows or port holes for natural light. The cabin can be quite compact but has sufficient space for bed and separate bathroom with shower. These cabins are not suitable if you feel uncomfortable with no natural light.
These are usually slightly bigger than inside cabins but will either have a port hole or a window. Some will have a shower in the bathroom while some will have a bathtub.
Superior outside cabins have a picture window and a bathtub in the bathroom, you can also get junior suites/ deluxe suites which will be larger in size and have a separate bedroom and sitting area.
There are several types of cabins with a Balcony, superior suites, mini suites, marquee suite, deluxe suite, premier suites and many more. They differ in size, facilities, size of balconies and location of suite.
Suites are obviously the most luxurious and spacious and most come with butler service, plus a lounge or sitting room separated from the bedroom. On more modern recently built ships balcony cabins account for 60% – 80% of all the ship’s accommodation.
The benefit with balcony cabins is you can sit and enjoy the view or even have dinner arranged on the balcony. Some can be small and can’t accommodate two chairs they may also only be separated from the adjacent cabin’s balcony by a full floor to ceiling screen, so are not as private as they could be. You also have to consider the location of balcony cabins on the ship; if on the bow side they may face forward and can be subject to wind where stern balconies are more protected.
Other balconies are covered providing shade and privacy while others maybe open to the weather but perfect for sunbathing. Some ships also have French balconies which have doors to open for fresh air and a great sea view, but you are unable to sit on them.
Location of cabins
The higher the deck the higher the cabin price normally is. You also have to consider the location of the cabin on the ship as this will make a difference. If you are looking for a quiet location then make sure it is not above the late bars and disco. If you have difficulty with walking distances then ask for a cabin mid ship as this will be nearer the lifts. Mid ship cabins are also normally more stable, less noisy and vibration free. Ships powered by diesel (which is most modern ships) create and transmit some vibration, especially at the stern during manoeuvring.
Cabins situated at the front of the ships can be slightly crescent-shaped and exposed to early morning noise such as the anchor being dropped at ports where the ship is too big to dock. Lower decks can be subject to heat and closer to any engine noise.
Finding your feet (especially on large ships)
When you first arrive in your cabin after embarkation your luggage will probably not be delivered for a few hours, so you could take this opportunity to find your bearings on board the ship. You will have been given a detailed map of the ship when you checked in so using this you should start to walk around the ship to find your bearings and the location of different decks, restaurants, bars, entertainment, pools etc. It is also wise to find the quickest route to your cabin as the ships are vast in size and you will probably walk endless miles in the first few days finding your way around the ship.
What should you pack?
Again this can depend on the cruise ship and the destinations. Many Cruise Lines now feature a more relaxed and casual approach to dress throughout the cruise - while on others, formal dinners or parties are part of the fun.Cruise holidays are generally casual by day, whether you're on the ship or ashore, but in the evening ships dress codes may vary. As a guideline short 3-4 night cruises will have one formal, one informal and one or two casual nights.
One week cruises will have one or two formal, two informal then two or three casual nights. On two week cruises there will generally be two to four formal nights, four to six informal and four or five casual nights. Formal evenings on ships can be grand but you don’t need to rush out to buy Black Tie, a dark suit is perfectly acceptable on most ships.
Most ships can accommodate salt-free, low-carbohydrate, low cholesterol, Kosher, or other dietary preferences. However this request must be made in advance so be sure to advise your ‘no fly’ cruise specialist when you book your cruise.
The costs of drinks on board were always normally lower than on land since ships have access to duty free alcohol, however this has changed over recent years and they are now generally priced at a small premium above standard UK pub prices. Dining rooms normally have extensive and reasonably priced wine lists but some Cruise Lines will also add a cover charge of approximately 15% to the bill. Some ships also sell duty free wine and alcohol which you can drink in your cabin; however this may not be taken into the dining or public areas.
This protects the bar sales which is a substantial source of on-board revenue. When purchasing duty free alcohol either on the ship or in port this will be stored for you until the last day of the cruise then returned to you prior to disembarkation.
What about meal times?
During the day, there are many different places to eat - in the formal dining room, on deck, in a pizzeria or at an espresso bar to name just a few. In the evenings some ships offer ‘flexible’ eating and ‘open’ seating which means you can eat and sit where you want within the opening hours of the dining room. On ships without ‘open seating’, unless you are with your family or a group, you will be seated next to strangers. The Cruise Lines are geared to accommodate each guest's wishes, and it is possible to request a table for two or four. In the unlikely event that you do wish to change table-mates, speak with the maître d', who will make every effort to seat you with more compatible dining companions.
Depending on the size of the ship you may have one, two or four sittings as dining rooms cannot accommodate all guests at one time. More traditional ships have two sittings in their formal dining rooms, which differ only by time: typically 6:00 p.m. and 8:30 p.m. To choose, just decide whether you prefer to dine early or late and then tell your No Fly Cruise specialist your preference when you book your cruise. Experienced cruisers say they prefer sitting at a table with several other diners; some lifelong friendships have been made this way.
Alternative dining might also be available but this would incur an extra cost of approximately £5-£35 per person. Alternative dining offers a more intimate and quieter dining experience with a good ambience and choice of menu. However be aware that as well as the initial additional meal and wine cost there will also be an extra cover charge, which soon mounts up during the duration of the cruise.
More and more Cruise Lines are opening up their informal lido areas to evening dining where the dress and dishes are always casual. You can even eat out under the stars and a large number of ships offer romantic in-cabin dinners. The choice is yours!
Can I smoke on-board?
Virtually all ships are now non-smoking in all public rooms with small sections on deck set aside for smoking. Some Cruise Lines still permit smoking in cabins but most only allow this on cabin balconies. It is worth looking at the individual policies by cruise line if you wish to smoke.
What's there to do at night?
When the stars come out, a cruise ship really comes alive. There's dancing, live entertainment, nightclubs and lounges, feature films and parties. Most ships also have casinos. What's more, there are many special events like the Captain's Cocktail Party, Passenger Talent Night and it’s all free. The shows are live, films first-rate and all included in your cruise fare. On a cruise, you do what you want when you want. You can do everything or do absolutely nothing. It's your holiday!
Other facilities on board
All large cruise ships have a wide range of day time activities ranging from fully equipped fitness gyms, exercise and dance classes for the more active passengers to spa’s massages and body treatments, steam rooms and saunas for the passengers who want to unwind and relax. Not forgetting the on-board swimming pools and decks where you can top up your tan or catch up on your reading.
Learning experiences and special educational programmes
Many Cruise Lines feature an extensive programme of on-board enrichment seminars hosted by distinguished guest experts. In addition to lectures highlighting the history and sights of ports you will be visiting. Some cruise companies specialise in Adventure and Expeditions. These ships tend to be smaller and less formal than the bigger cruise ships and the itineraries and programmes are very specific. They are aimed at experienced travellers who prefer an educational environment and do not want all the activities and entertainment typical of mainstream cruises.
What about tipping?
Tipping is a matter of individual preference and most cruise companies now even publish guidelines in the brochures. A general rule is to plan for a total of approximately £4 - £7 per person per day. Some cruise companies will automatically add gratuities to your on-board account which can be adjusted if required when the account is paid at the end of the cruise. Gratuities are sometimes included in the cruise fare normally those at the luxury end of the market, where no tipping is permitted – at least that is the theory!
Communication with the outside world
Most ships have a daily newsletter with news, headlines, selected stock quotes and sports results and many cabins are equipped with televisions and have satellite or cellular telephones. New ships all have the technology to enable passengers to use their own personal mobile telephone with the cost being charged to the mobile account. But beware this can be expensive. The best and cheapest way to keep in touch with family and friends is to use e-mail as most ships have an internet cafe. Alternatively send e-mails while in port as this would be a lot less expensive than on-board.
Extra charges on-board
Although all the entertainment and food is included in the price you do have to be aware of some additional expenses that you need to budget for as these could soon add up to be paid on your final account. Shore excursions are bookable prior to your cruise and also when you have boarded and the price will vary depending on the excursion. Drinks on board during the cruise, although they are reasonably priced will mount up and also remember 10–15% can be added for wine ordered in the restaurant. Additional costs can include laundry, spa treatments, alternative dining, internet access, medical costs and duty free shopping both on board and in destinations.
Are there medical services on-board?
Virtually every cruise ship (except for some smaller vessels operating in coastal waters) has a medical facility and health care professionals on staff which will normally consist of a doctor and two nurses who would be able to handle almost any emergency. One of the most common concerns for passenger’s especially first time cruisers is suffering from sea sickness! Today’s ships have stabilizers which should reduce the effects of sea sickness and as a result less than 3% of passengers suffer.
A good tip to try if you notice the first movement of the ship is to walk back and forth on the deck. You will start to find your knees, your natural form of stabilizers which will start to get their feel of balance. This is known as getting your ‘sea legs’! Alternatively you could try pressure pads that can be purchased from a pharmacy or chewing ginger tablets. As a last resort, the ship’s Doctor can prescribe a more powerful remedy; however that would be at your own expense.
Shopping on-board / Duty free
Shops on-board cruise ships are duty free and competitive in price. A variety of shops can be found such as jewellery, gifts, accessories, fragrance & cosmetics, fashion, necessities and alcohol. So whatever you have forgotten to pack or if you want to treat yourself you will be able to purchase while on-board. Be aware though that the shops on-board are normally closed while in port due to international customs regulations.
Certain cruise companies may allow you to bring a bottle of wine or champagne to drink in your cabin, however it would not be permitted to be taken into dining areas and any public areas to drink. All alcohol purchased while on-board or from a port will be kept for you and returned prior to disembarkation.
Paying your on-board account
It is now normal for all Cruise Lines to operate cash-free cruising so all purchases and expenditure will be added to your personal account. When you board the ship an imprint of a credit card will be taken to ensure you can cover any on-board expenses. Throughout the cruise you sign for everything. Some cruise ships have the facility to check the balance of your account on the television in the cabin. All cruise ships will deliver a detailed statement to your cabin the day prior to disembarkation.
Some Cruise Lines may discontinue their ‘cashless’ system on the last day of the cruise, some may also add a currency conversion service charge to your credit card if not in the same currency as the Cruise Line.