I went on my first ever cruise a little over a year ago, and ever since then have been cruise daft! I’d now choose one as my preferred type of holiday (if I had it my way) and already have a long wishlist of itineraries that I want to experience.
Before I went on my first on last year, I’d had all the usual apprehensions but when I actually made my way onto P&O Cruises magnificent Britannia for the first time they were instantly forgotten, and I knew that I was going to have an amazing week. All those silly little worries like getting seasick, running out of things to do (impossible), feeling claustrophobic and of course the age-old misconception that cruises are only for ‘old’ people were quickly forgotten and what I got instead was a new love of life at sea.
I’m still asked loads of queations by people who have seen my social media posts about cruising and it seems that a lot of you are put off for a lot of the same reasons that had deterred me for so long. Last month I went on my second P&O Cruises cruise in the Caribbean, so with that trip fresh in my mind I’ve decided to share with you some of the key things that I love about cruise holidays…
There is an Itinerary that’s just right for you
The first thing to remember about cruising is that it’s not a one size all approach, there is a ship and an itinerary to meet absolutely everyone’s taste. Whether you want a weekend of pure relaxation in the Caribbean sunshine in January or whether you want to go exploring the Norwegian Fjords you can find a cruise itinerary to suit you. Cruise ships are all extremely different too, some cater more to families, some are adults only and some have an older more traditional vibe. Personally, I’ve really enjoyed my trips on Britannia as it has a nice mix of ages and it is large enough so there is absolutely loads to do while at sea.
I’ve never had a more relaxing and stress free holiday than on a P&O Cruises trip because from the moment you check in at the airport every single thing is taken care of for you. After you drop your luggage at the airport in the UK, the next time you will see it is when it’s delivered directly to your cabin on-board the ship shortly after you embark. You are collected from the plane (yes, right from the bottom of the steps) and transferred right over to the cruise terminal. There’s no faffing around waiting on bags or going through customs at your destination airport which means you can enjoy your holiday right from the off.
The proper relaxation really kicks off when you get on the ship though. It’s your holiday and you can decided exactly how you want to spend it. Whether that is chilling in the luxurious setting of The Retreat (a daily premium applies), lounging by one of the main pools or finding a quiet spot on one of the top decks to watch the world go by the choice is yours.
Waking up to a new view each day
Now this is my absolute favourite thing about a cruise holiday and to be honest it was something that I hadn’t really considered until I went on one but where else on earth would you open your curtains each day to a completely new and often breath-taking view? I really can’t think of anywhere else, can you?
Every single morning without fail, I’d run to the curtains and excitedly pull them back to see what view awaited me. Sometimes it would be a pretty harbour town, sometimes some stunning scenery and others the sunrise over the ocean. All really special in their own way.
The chance to explore lots of new places
Ok, so you can do a multi trip holiday where you visit a few places in a week but that takes extra travel, extra stress and extra time. The magic of cruising is that you can simply go to sleep in one place and wake up somewhere new.
In our week-long Caribbean cruise, we visited 6 different countries (Grenada, St Lucia, St Kitts, Martinique, Antigua and Barbados) so it’s a great place to experience lots of new places, culture and sample lots of new food and drink. A lot of people have the misconception that all the islands in the Caribbean are pretty similar but that couldn’t be more from the truth. In total there are 26 countries in the Caribbean sea and they are spread across a massive expanse of water. Some countries are very dry sunny, and others are very green and have huge rainforests and mountain ranges. This varied landscape means you will have loads of opportunities to get out and see some very diverse landscapes, beautiful beaches and if it takes your fancy try some extreme or water sports too.
You can keep active
Cruise ships are basically like huge floating hotel resorts so they have everything on them that you’d expect to find in a luxury hotel. Every ship in the P&O Cruises fleet has a fitness centre on board and they don’t come much better than the huge Technogym facility on Britannia. It has more than enough equipment to keep you going and offers some of the best views from any gym anywhere, especially on a sea day.
If slaving away in the gym is not your bag then don’t worry as you can do some laps of the upper decks, play some sport or take part in the group games throughout the day. You can literally keep yourself as busy and active as you wish. On port days too, you have the opportunity to head out on foot and explore a brand new place or if you choose you can book onto one of the group excursions which are fantastic.
On my most recent cruise, I signed up for the off-road safari in Antigua and I’d highly recommend it for any thrill-seekers. We headed deep into the rainforest, along some beautiful coastal routes and even stopped off for some deliciously juicy fresh local fruit. Just make sure that you wear clothes that you don’t mind ruining as you will most likely end up absolutely filthy!
The on-board spa
If being on holiday isn’t a treat enough for your body, you can enjoy a wide range of treatments in the ships on-board spa. Each of P&O Cruises ships have a great team of skilled therapists who are able to offer massage, skin treatments, hair styling and holistic experiences.
If you’re not one for the whole treatment malarkey then you can still book in for the thermal experience where you can take some time out in the selection of whirlpools, saunas, steam-rooms and relaxation areas. It’s the perfect place to spend a day if the weather isn’t playing ball or you want a little break away from the sun
The food & drink
Food lovers are literally spoiled for choice on a cruise. In fact, if you take a trip in Britannia, you will struggle to find time to sample all of the dining options in just the one week so booking a fortnight is probably advisable.
P&O Cruises holidays are full board, so with the cost of your holiday you will have access to a main dining restaurant, room service, poolside snacks and a really great buffet (that operates almost 24 hours a day). In addition to these options they have a great range of select dining options that range from the informal setting like the beach house, the award-winning Sindhu to the Epicurean, the ships fine dining option. The restaurants will vary from ship to ship with the larger ones like Azura and Britannia obviously having more to choose from. And that’s just the food on the ship itself. Every port you call into offers a vast number of restaurants and bars to try…!
The sailaway was another thing that I wasn’t all that familiar with until I went on my first cruise but it’s now one of my favourite parts of the cruising experience. Essentially, it’s what happens when you depart from a port at the end of a day and make your way onto the next destination. The ship’s entertainment crew often put on a little party to celebrate this occasion too but if you prefer to quietly watch as you drift off then head to the back of the ship and grab a swifty at the bar instead.
It’s definitely one of those things that you have to experience for yourself to really understand but it offers some of the most beautiful views from the whole trip as you head off into the sunset under an (often) magical sky). It really is like nothing else.
To be entertained
Entertainment is another speciality of P&O Cruises and it comes in all shapes and sizes ranging from their big production west end style shows in the main theatre all the way down to karaoke and quiz nights in the pub. Every night they out together a great programme of stuff to keep you entertained so keep a look out for the daily listing in the newsletter that gets delivered to your cabin so that you know what is going on.
The Black-Tie Evenings
Black tie evenings are one of my highlight’s of the cruise and I’m so pleased that P&O Cruises continue to keep this tradition alive. The atmosphere on the ship takes on a new edge as everyone slips into their finest gear and heads out to enjoy the evening.
I enjoy heading up to the crow’s nest bar on Britannia and grabbing a pre-dinner drink to the music of the house jazz pianist. It’s a fantastic setting and a great way to start your black-tie night.
Don’t worry if dressing up isn’t your bag then fear not as it’s not compulsory either but some of the bars will enforce a dress code on these nights but there are still plenty of places where you can enjoy the evening in a more relaxed setting.
It had been my intention when I started writing this to keep each point short and snappy, but I realised that hasn’t really happened in the end. I don’t apologise though, this is a topic that I genuinely really enjoy talking about, so I wanted to give you as many of the reasons why as possible.
If you have any questions or want to share your cruise tips with me and everyone else then please leave a comment below or drop me a message over on twitter @everyday_man.
If all of that has convinced you to book a cruise for your next trip then visit pocruises.com where a 14 night Caribbean cruise next January is priced from £1859pp.
Disclosure: P&O Cruises invited me along on this cruise, but as always, all words are my own. I really do love this way of holidaying!