Cruising

 If someone mentions cruising to you, you probably think of what could be called "Classic Cruising": a largish ship, sailing from harbor to harbour, probably in the Mediterranean or round the Caribbean, with an idea that a lot of the passengers would be late middle aged or retired.  Whilst that sort of cruise is as popular as ever, there are many other sorts of cruises, and many different types and styles of cruising: in fact, a cruise for everyone.

There are several different types of cruising.  These include:

Classic Cruising

This is what probably most people think of as a cruise: a ship, which cruises from harbour to harbour, often overnight and docks during the day.  The passengers then go on shore excursions whilst in port.  It is enjoyed by couples whose children have left home.  Well, many people do enjoy exactly that and come back every year for more.  However, there is more to Classic Cruising than that.  Rock  climbing, zip-lining, surfing and even Mickey Mouse.  Many of the ships are aimed squarely at young people, particularly those with families. 

River Cruising

River Cruising differs from Classic Cruising in that it involves cruising down a river, naturally.  However one big difference is that the cruising is as an important a part of the holiday as the stops.  In the majority of cruises they travel during the day to give their passengers a good view of the passing countryside, mooring for the night and to explore the attractions next to the river.  The boats are normally specially designed for use in rivers, being shallow draught and depending whether they need to pass under bridges, possibly having a low profile.

 Possibly the most popular destination for river cruises is the Nile, with next the Rhine and Danube vying for equal second.  However, it is possible to sail down most of the worlds large rivers, including the Volga, the Mekong, the Yangtze, the Amazon and the River Murray in Australia.  And for fans of Mark Twain, it is even possible to sail down the Mississippi on a stern wheeler.

Coastal Cruising

Coastal Cruising is typically done on the same kind of ship as Classic Cruising, except that the voyage takes you along some of the more spectacular coasts.  Like River Cruising, the scenery plays a major part in the cruises attractions.  The most well known coastal cruises take place along the Norwegian coast, visiting the spectacular fjords.  Lesser known, at least for Britons, are the cruises that take place along the Alaskan coast.  The scenery is equally spectacular, with islands, inlets and glaciers.  Nearer to home, round Britain cruises, particularly whilst sailing round the west coast of Scotland, provide world class scenery watching.

Ocean Voyages

One immediately thinks of the North Atlantic Run, preferably on a ship with "Queen" in her name.  (I personally cannot think of better way to get a first glimpse of New York than sailing into the harbour, past the Statue of Liberty.)  Whilst the Queen Mary 2 has a year round schedule, several other cruise ships make a biannual crossing on what are repositioning voyages, from the Caribbean to European waters for the summer and back to the Caribbean in the winter.  These tend to take a more southerly route to avoid the worst of the weather, and go via the Azores or the Canaries, taking twelve days rather than the five of the more direct route.

Expedition and Discovery Cruising

One advantage of a ship is it can get you to places where no other transport can.  Consequently, if you want to visit the Antarctic, the Arctic or remote Melanesian islands; get close to nature; or interact with different cultures then expedition cruising might be for you.  If after a grueling day exploring, you would like to go back to a five star floating hotel, then it definitely is!

Whilst providing entertainment, do not expect West-End style shows on an Expedition Cruising ship.  A lot of the entertainment tends to be more on the lines of lectures on the areas to be visited plus the culture, flora and fauna to be encountered.  These are frequently given by renowned experts in the field.  There are also cruises which cannot really be described as expedition, but have a similar ethos – visiting cultural/archeological destination accompanied by experts.

Cruising Under Sail

Whilst the majority of cruise ships are powered by diesel engines, there are a few cruise ships that use sail.  Some are motor sailors, but some are jaw droppingly beautiful proper tall ships.  If you want to be on the most beautiful man-made creation in a thousand miles, these are for you.