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What to expect from a cruise holiday

23rd July 2016 Print

You might think that hopping on a cruise ship is all loungers, sangrias and evening cabaret. But the truth is, the cruise industry is becoming ever more innovative in how it captures the attention and imagination of its passengers, and advances in both technology and consumer expectations are redefining how you'll be spending your time at sea.

That said, many of the most appealing things about cruising are as classic and unchanged as ever. There's plenty of relaxation, a sense of crisp white luxury about your surroundings, and food and drink well worth the cost of entry. Depending on your chosen cruise style, you could be seeing the sights of Western Europe, sampling the blazing heat and party atmosphere of the Caribbean, or basking in the warmth of both the weather and the culture of the Mediterranean. What's more, fantastic deals and packages are available all year round, and as the number of cruise deals grows, cruising is becoming as popular as many other classic holiday types.

One of the first decisions holidaymakers need to make is how exactly they plan to spend their time while cruising. Relaxation and lazy days are best catered to by a mid-sized vessel, yet the largest cruise ships today are almost like floating cities, to the extent that some even think of them as closer to full blown resorts than cruise ships. As technology has ever more impact on how we spend our leisure time, everything from robotic bartenders to simulated skydiving can be enjoyed on board these leviathans. Cruise ship operators are always looking to introduce the next big innovation, with vessels like the famous Quantum of the Seas being recognised as leading the way in that regard.

As well as convenient technology and advanced entertainment, cruise lines are making it easier for you to tailor your holiday to your expectations. Whereas before, families, couples and singles of all ages were forced to mingle in the same space, operators have recognised the different kinds of cruisers they're attracting - and nowadays, you're as likely to find an adults-only sunbathing area, free from scuttling youngsters, as you are a colourful day of activities for families to enjoy, or a peaceful retreat for retirees. The general rule is to always book early if you want your ideal cruise secured, and that includes your choice of cabin.

Whichever cruise type is chosen, packing correctly is vital. Many cruise ships adopt dress codes for evening meals leaning towards the formal style, meaning you'll be at a loss if you try to turn up for dinner in your bathing suit. Other than that, though, the usual holiday sundries and necessities are often the way.

Cruises that leave from the UK are also becoming easier to find, making life much easier without the need to fly to where your cruise begins. More than 200 cruises leave from Southampton every year, and not just to Europe – you can leave from the UK and travel all over the world.

In essence, a cruise can be a classic ocean voyage as much as an experience of technology and entertainment rivalling the greatest theme parks of today. It's an experience to be recommended, and whatever options you go for, being doted on by a legion of staff while relaxing and socialising is certainly one of the better ways to spend some time at sea.