Cruising’s not for us. It’s for old people. Who wants to be cooped up on a boat all day. It’ll be really expensive….and so on and so on. That’s why we chose not to go on a cruise.
But we were wrong.
We eventually decided to go because someone we knew actually got themselves a job on a cruise ship on a long-term contract so to offer moral support and some friendly faces we decided to look into a short haul cruise.
You can book really early
We booked early in September 2017 and our cruise wasn’t due to take place until February 2018. The bonus of this is that as a thank you the cruise company, in this case, P&O gave us an allowance to spend on board of £80 EACH. Given that the cruise we’d chosen was only four days, that wasn’t too bad. Booking this early also gave us the opportunity to choose exactly what kind of cabin we wanted. We were never going to go for the penthouse, luxury suites but again we didn’t want to be cooped up in a tiny box with no windows. We chose a junior suite with a sea view and balcony and when we opened the door to it we were astonished at just how much space we had.
Now, this must come at a price, right?
Not really, we worked out that the whole thing cost about the same as we would spend on a week away in Portugal.
Well, the food is. All we paid for were the drinks and I thought they’d be massively overpriced but what a pleasant surprise to find they were no more expensive than the average pub.
On our ship, the Oceana, which by ship terms at 2000 passengers is pretty small there were about four or five different restaurants to choose from.
In addition to the restaurants included in the price, the shows are also free to see and with two theatres both showing well-rehearsed, professional quality productions you’ll be spoilt for choice.
The service is second-to-none
We were impressed on our arrival in Southampton that our cases were taken and we didn’t see them again until we boarded and they were outside our door.
Take a seat at a bar or cafe and within seconds, you’ll be asked what you’d like. There’s no obligation to have anything of course, but the level of service is that high.
Sit down to dinner and orders are taken within moments. Food arrives almost without delay. If I had one tiny gripe then it would be that it’s clear the food is not prepared to order, but if I was catering for 2000 people I wouldn’t prepare it to order either!
There’s a chance to dress up
I can’t speak for every cruise but certainly, on this one there was a Gala night and men wore black tie and dinner jacket, women were in cocktail dresses or evening gowns. I don’t know about you, but it’s not often I get a chance to wear my DJ and bow-tie and I loved the glamour of the evening.
You can do a whistle-stop tour at each port
The cruise we chose docked at Bruges and Amsterdam and the stop generally gives you just enough time to disembark, get to the centre and tick off all the major sights you need to see to get a big ‘been there’ in your travel diary. If you’re intent on seeing as many places as possible in a short space of time then cruising has to be the way to go.
It is surprisingly luxurious
We didn’t pay a fortune for our brief dalliance into the world of cruising but the luxury you experience makes you feel like you’ve spent your entire life-savings; staircases wind luxuriously down to an atrium decorated in gold while a glass-windowed lift glides slowly up and down the floors.
An art gallery is available for viewing original works of art and bars stock expensive brands of liqueur. There are even shops on board with top name brands like Boss, Ralph Lauren, Ray-Ban and more to tempt you into parting with your money.
It’s not just for old people
The image of cruising is that it is dedicated to the old and wealthy and cruise companies have worked hard to shed that image. The cross-section of passengers on board our recent trip was as broad as you’d expect to see on any holiday.
So, that was our first experience of cruising. Was it enjoyable? Definitely yes. Would we do it again? Definitely yes. Are we converted to die-hard cruisers? Mmm probably not, but it was an experience we’d certainly repeat, but next time go somewhere hot so we can make the most of the balconies and the upper decks.
Has this tempted you into giving a cruise a try?
Let me know.