Five top cruise destinations
Once seen as the preserve of the elderly or rich, cruise holidays have seen a phenomenal burst in popularity in recent years.
In 2011, the number of holidaymakers taking a cruise hit 20 million globally for the first time, with 1.7 million of those from the UK. So, what exactly is behind this trend?
Well, cruises have certainly become more affordable of late, with a wider range of operators and destinations than ever before. Good value doesn’t have to mean no frills, though, and travellers are increasingly discovering the appeal of a holiday that combines all the best features of a smart hotel – great food, a comfortable bed, and activities galore on site – with the thrill of waking up somewhere new each morning.
The only thing you have to decide is which of the many cruise holiday options you’ll choose – so let’s take a look at some of the top cruise destinations of the moment.
The Mediterranean cruise is, and will always be, one of the favourite choices for holidaymakers – and little wonder, when there are beautiful and historic cities one after the other to enjoy.
You might stop off at the culture-filled Basque port of Bilbao, followed by a visit to the majestic city of Barcelona. What about calling at the ‘Eternal City’ of Rome before leisurely experiencing the Amalfi coast? The stunningly restored Croatian city of Dubrovnik with its medieval Old Town might appeal to you, or perhaps a cruise along the French Riviera. Malta, Cyprus, Gibraltar – the list of possibilities is long.
You might fancy something more compact but no less enjoyable, such as taking a cruise around the Canary Islands.
Tenerife is the largest island and its capital, Santa Cruz, is a mixture of the ancient and modern. You may prefer a touch more liveliness in the resorts on the south side of the island, but there again, Gran Canaria – with its tropical landscapes and lively capital of Las Palmas – still provides much variety. You may want to visit Fire Mountain on Lanzarote or marvel at its dramatic rock formations, which are more akin to the surface of the Moon than a European hotspot.
This may surprise you, but it’s also worth giving consideration to a cruise closer to home.
Britain itself is an island rich in history, tradition and waterways, so take your time in getting to know some of these places better. Stop at Liverpool with its fabulous architecture, musical history and trendy waterfront. Newcastle is developing as a city all the time and it has a strong maritime heritage and nightlife the envy of many a European city. Embrace the wonders of Scotland with its castles and mountains, not forgetting the style of Edinburgh and the energy of Glasgow.
Alternatively, go the whole hog and luxuriate with a Caribbean cruise. Just the word ‘Caribbean’ conjures up images of sun-kissed beaches, glorious weather and that sense of timelessness that true relaxation can bring. Visit Barbados, St. Kitts and Grand Cayman to name but three destinations, and enjoy great hospitality, sumptuous food and that ‘oh so slow’ pace of life.
The Middle East has certainly developed over the last few years into a prime tourist destination and you can see why with the most special of cruises on offer.
Dubai, with its wall-to-wall shopping, sandy beaches and desert safaris, is a holidaymaker’s dream. Stop at Port Said, the gateway to Cairo and one of the most fascinating cities on Earth. Wonder at the Pyramids and bring those memories home with you. Jordan, with its coral reefs and the ancient city of Petra, is a must on any itinerary.
These destinations give just a flavour of some of the enchanting cruises you might choose from. So, whip out the guide books, peruse the holiday brochures, and start planning your own holiday of a lifetime!
Photo credit: Graham Soult