Travel writer Harriet Ferguson dispels some common cruising myths and explains why it is a perfect form of travel for students
It’s safe to say, as a student, hopping onto a Cruise Trip is probably something that has never crossed your mind or, if it has, is quickly dismissed from your list of top ten ‘Dream Holidays’. There are so many reasons why students avoid cruising: “the nightlife will be dull”, “the ship will be packed with OAPs”, “I’ll only get to see each destination for a small amount of time”, “the food will consist of nothing more than endless buffets” and the ultimate excuse of “I simply can’t afford it”. After admittedly sharing all of these views myself, I did my research and found that all these opinions are cruising MYTHS. Cruising has undoubtedly evolved through the years and is something which every student should consider for their next university break. Here’s why:
Cruising for students does not mean giving up on those warm summer-feel-good nights out in foreign cities. Many cruises are now offering overnight stops in places like Venice, St Petersburg, Ibiza and Barcelona with others also offering late excursion times the following day. Not only can you party hard without being left behind by the ship, but you’ll have time to recover from those pounding hangovers before setting off to explore the next day. Longer stopovers in your favourite places also means that you have plenty of time to explore each destination at your own pace without having to rush back to port to catch the boat.
Travelling and Accommodation
Cruising means travelling and living in luxury. Ditch the long and boring night trains through Europe, the shabby budget airline flights and questionable rented apartments for elegant living quarters and a fine ship to roam around (while still being affordable!). Restaurants, bars, and many activities are all in one place for you to enjoy while you’re not on shore discovering new places. What’s perhaps most appealing is that you will only have to unpack and pack once for the whole of your holiday. No living out of suitcases, lugging around huge rucksacks onto different modes of public transport, or keeping track of all your belongings. Not only is this less hassle but also means there is so much more time relaxing and so much less time travelling around to different destinations.
Something for Everyone
The age-old stereotype of cruises would suggest that your only shipmates are those exceeding the age of 65. Today, this is far from accurate with cruises offering entertainment for people of all ages including the young adult age bracket. There are often too many activities on board to check out whether you want to rock climb up the ship’s funnel, have a good chuckle at a comedy club, try your bartending skills in a mixology class or watch a movie under the stars with your SO (activities that you can guarantee the grandparents will avoid). There are also many student-orientated river cruises available to book yourself onto so as to avoid the oldies.
Cruise food is so much more than the good ol’ buffet. Cruise ships often boast an array of cuisines from Japanese, Chinese and Italian to the less explored Moroccan, Turkish or Nordic. As a general rule, the bigger the ship the more choice of cuisine (with up to 25 restaurants on the larger vessels). While the smaller river cruise ships pride themselves on sourcing their smaller selection on local produce. Many ships are now partnering up with professional chefs such as Thomas Keller and Marco Pierre White to provide high quality, photo-friendly, Michelin Star food. You can even try your hand at top quality cookery classes with James Martin on P&O Cruises and Jamie Oliver on Royal Caribbean International to impress your housemates when you return to university.
Not all cruises are 4-week round-the-world trips across all seven of the seas. Smaller and shorter cruise trips are equally (if not better) than the big daddies of the cruising world, and of course much more affordable. While huge ships can just about manage to dock at giant ports of popular coastal towns, River Cruise Ships can meander their way down narrow rivers to drop you off at the heart of a city, allowing you to explore away from the shore and a get a true flavour of a country for next to nothing. But how much are we talking? Just like any holiday, if you shop around and search out those easy-to-find deals, you could be on a 7-night cruise down the River Seine, exploring numerous medieval cities along the way for only £349 per person (cruise118.com). Alternatively, skip out on those Christmas break essays and head on a Christmas Cruise through Budapest, Bratislava and Vienna for only £180 per person per day with a welcome party, meals, 14 flexible excursions, mixology classes and much more included (ubyuniworld.com).
Still not convinced? Why not come along to the Birmingham Cruise Show at the NEC on the 16th and 17th September and quiz the experts yourself? You’ll also find exclusive deals and prices you won’t find elsewhere. This will be an event NOT to miss.
Reserve your free tickets online at http://www.cruiseshow.co.uk/birmingham/