A record 27.2 million people will set sail in 2018, according to the Cruise Lines International Association (CLIA). And cruising is growing faster than land-based vacations by 20 percent.
Below Best in Travel reveals 10 reasons why cruising is more popular than ever
The suite life
Luxury cruise ships tend to come equipped with a Jacuzzi or two, a media room, state of the art gym, spacious deck area – the perfect place to top up your tan – and private (and roomy) cabins.
Cabin facilities have also been carefully considered and upscale amenities include iPod docking stations, flat screen TVs, DVD players that enhance the entertainment system, satellite phone, on board internet and music and DVD libraries to cosset guests in true luxury.
Most upscale cruise ships are also kitted out with water toys (windsurfers, water-ski, jet skis, scuba diving apparel et al) for your entertainment and some even offer full blown spas and salons. In short, think bout today’s cruises as you might a stay in a hotel – do you want cool, laid-back and boutique? Hipster or traditional? Serene and grown-up, or a family resort, packed with activity? We’re confident that you’ll find a ship to suit your tastes.
Cruising is a fantastic way to visit different destinations
Cruising makes light work of ticking off multiple destinations. A European cruise will typically tick off the capital cities of Estonia, Latvia and Lithuania, as well as taking you to Helsinki, St Petersburg, Tallinn, Visby, Riga, Wismar and Copenhagen. Meanwhile a Caribbean cruise could call at Cozumel or Playa del Carmen in Mexico, Grand Cayman, the Dominican Republic, Jamaica, Belize, Costa Rica and Roatan. How else could you see so many destinations with such ease, all in one trip?
Cruise virgins invariably bleat that they’ll be bored on a cruise, but this view just doesn't hold water (excuse the pun). You'd have to work incredibly hard to be bored on a cruise ship.
Start your day in the state-of-the-art fitness centre, perhaps with an uplifting aerobics class, do a little duty-free shopping, listen to a history lecture, all before you even hit the pool.
In the afternoon, why not enjoy some ‘me time’ by booking a massage in the spa, top up the tan on a sun lounger, participate in fun games and wine tastings, watch a movie on a big screen or, if you’re on board the 3,954-passenger Carnival Vista, at an IMAX Theatre? And this is before you visit bucket list destinations.
Best of all? You don't have to stick to a daily regimen – on a cruise holiday, it’s up to what you feel like doing.
Top notch nightlife
Night-time entertainment could consist of live performances by comics, lavish show productions, piano bars, karaoke, ballroom dancing, lively casinos and clubs that are hopping well into the wee small hours.
On select Holland America Line ships, including the 2,650-passenger MS Nieuw Statendam, talented musicians show off their skills at venues including B.B. King Blues Club and Lincoln Centre Stage.
For live action of a different sort, attend a theme party – such as Gatsby Night, inspired by the roaring 20s, on P&O Cruises Australia ships.
Peace and quiet is possible
Cruise ships, by their nature, are social places and making new friends is part of the experience. That said, even the most colossal of cruise ships have nooks and crannies for those seeking some P&Q. Relax at an adults-only pool or sun deck, such as The Retreat on select ships of P&O Cruises, which comes with a special pampering service.
Alternatively if you’re after a more intimate experience, look to ultra-luxury small ships of Seabourn, such as the 600-passenger Seabourn Ovation, sister ship to the award-winning Seabourn Encore.
Cruising is for everyone
There is an undeniable romance to traveling at sea: think couples enjoying candlelit dinners on a private deck. However cruising is actually a great holiday for everyone from toddlers to teenagers and their grandparents owing to on-board kids’ clubs, teen hangouts (Princess Cruises recently enhanced its youth and teen centres and launched Camp Discovery, with hands-on science-focused activities created in partnership with Discovery Communications TV shows) and adults-only pools.
Thinking of talking the whole family? Special accommodations are designed for families, including German line AIDA Cruises' first-ever family staterooms on the AIDAnova.
Going solo? Don’t fret about being “Billy no-mates”: – solo travellers can ask to be seated with other guests for dinner. Meanwhile ‘meet-and-greets’ and other activities provide plenty of opportunity to meet others traveling alone. Furthermore an ever growing number of ships also offer solo accommodations created and priced for one. Cunard's Queen Mary 2’s 15 solo staterooms all come with ocean views, while six P&O Cruises ships have accommodations for one person, including an impressive 27 solo cabins on the Britannia.
The fear of being cut off from the outside world is unfounded – Wi-Fi hot spots are becoming more and common, and ships are ensuring technical help is at hand. Case in point? All Seabourn ships are equipped with Seabourn Square, a buzzing internet café-cum-business centre.
That being said, being on a ship out in the middle of an ocean offers an escape from technology. Back home our lives are full of screens, from smartphones to satnavs, so why not use a cruise as a chance to take a temporary break from the digital world?
You only have to pack once
If you’ve ever lugged suitcases out of cars, onto trains and up several flights of stairs, this could be the biggest benefit of cruising. While you can visit different destinations, your bag remains very much onboard. Result.
That hassle-free holiday experience is another reason for cruising's growing popularity.
Fantastic food lies at the heart of a cruise holiday. Royal Caribbean stands out for offering more than 20 outstanding restaurant concepts on any of its ships, some created with renowned celebrity chefs, including Jamie Oliver and Michael Schwartz. You’ll find leading American chef Thomas Keller on Seabourn and Australian-born chef Curtis Stone on Princess Cruises, while Gala Night menus on P&O Cruises ships feature the creations of legendary British chef Marco Pierre White.
Elsewhere an entire Culinary Council of award-winning chefs advises Holland America Line while on Italy-based Costa Cruises, Italian culinary traditions are very much alive: mozzarella is made fresh onboard.
Stay in shape
Worried about your waist line? Put the panic on hold. Today the majority of cruise lines offer light, vegetarian and vegan dishes to help guests ward off weight gain.
Of course half the fun of a holiday is indulging (would it really be a vacation if you came back a few pounds lighter?), so why not enjoy your food and then limit the damage by hitting the fitness centre, where you can even hire a personal trainer to whip you back into shape.
See you at sea!