Cruising is a great way to see a variety of places without having to face the upheaval of transferring from hotel to hotel – and having to catch trains and planes in between. You go to bed and, in the morning, wake up to fresh sights and new experiences. If you’re at sea, you can join classes or workshops, listen to talks or relax by the pool. At night, there’s entertainment and the food is a top priority – with plenty of it throughout the day.
If you live on a Beechcroft development, you don’t have to worry about the home you’re leaving behind – even if you choose to go on an extended cruise. An Estate Manager is on hand to keep an eye on the property you’ve left behind – and to make sure that everything is in good order for your return. If you have a private garden, the Estate Manager will ensure that it is well-maintained and that you don’t come back to knee-deep grass.
If you don’t want the hassle of waiting at airports, it’s possible to cruise to anywhere in the world from the British Isles. For Beechcroft owners in the southern counties, Southampton and London Tilbury Docks are popular ports to start your cruise.
Godalming, Surrey (Hampton Manor) approximately 55 miles from Southampton Docks and 68 miles to London Tilbury Docks
Cobham, Surrey (White Lion Place) approximately 52 miles to London Tilbury Docks and 71 miles to Southampton Docks
Leatherhead, Surrey (The Farthings ) approximately 49 miles to London Tilbury Docks and 72 miles to Southampton Docks
St Albans, Hertfordshire (Maryland Place) approximately 48 miles to London Tilbury Docks and 88 miles to Southampton Docks
Wheatley, Oxfordshire (The Sidings) approximately 74 miles to Southampton Docks and 92 miles to London Tilbury Docks
Ham Common, London (Orford Place) approximately 57 miles to London Tilbury Docks and 71 miles to Southampton Docks
There’s a vast array of cruises on offer from short breaks and cultural city breaks to expedition cruises to the Arctic, Antarctic, Alaska and the Galapagos Islands and there are river cruises for those who enjoy watching beautiful, ever-changing scenery pass by.
These cruises are offered by an equally wide range of cruise lines with a selection of ships – from family and contemporary cruises, traditional cruises and themed cruises to premium cruises, luxury cruises and expedition cruises.
Your cruise may be ruled by your budget – all inclusive cruises may seem expensive but can represent excellent value for money. Don’t forget to budget for shore excursions and tipping.
Make sure you do your research before you book. What size ship do you want, what ports of call interest you, what on board activities do you want, do you want to be informal or dress up for dinner?
The family and contemporary cruise market provides an extensive range of activities for all ages with everything from ice skating to rock climbing. These ships tend to be large – up to 6,000 passengers and resemble floating villages with shopping centres, gyms, casinos, night clubs, art galleries, libraries and even night nurseries. Aboard these ships, there are numerous dining options with varied dress codes – so you can be relaxed or dress up.
Traditional cruise ships are not the most contemporary – they don’t usually have the most recent innovations or offer the full range of activities which you’ll find on the larger family & contemporary cruise ships. The focus is on value for money, comfort, good service and a relaxed atmosphere. These cruises tend to be at the lower end of the price spectrum and have a higher average age of passenger. The atmosphere is generally relaxed and friendly.
Some cruises are themed – such as the ‘Strictly Come Dancing’ cruise – dancers from the television show will be on board, sometimes along with one of the programme’s judges. There’s evening entertainment – including shows and daytime classes and workshops. The professional dancers lead dance classes and you can book private tutoring sessions.
These types of cruise ships tend to be small – and more like luxury yachts. The size of the ships means they are able to visit smaller ports and everything, including shore expeditions, is geared to the luxury market. Food is of the highest priority and you may find that that your food is being prepared by a renowned or celebrity chef.
Premium cruises bridge the gap between ‘Family & ‘Contemporary’ Cruises and the luxury market. They will take fewer passengers, have larger bedrooms and significantly more rooms with balconies. Attention to detail is key and the atmosphere tends to be semi-formal. These are cruises where you’ll want to dress for dinner.
These cruises tend to be in smaller ships which are able to get close to coastal and river sites and dock in small ports. Shore excursions are real adventures and are less ‘luxurious’ than those on other types of cruise. You might find yourself having to land on shore in an inflatable boat – so if you’re less than agile, this might not be for you. Rather than having a ‘cruise director’ you’ll have an expedition leader – and possibly a team including biologists, geologists or anthropologists who act as guides.
River ships carry on average 150 guests and tend to be informal and relaxed. They have large picture windows and mostly outward facing cabins so you always get a good view. River cruises usually dock in the centre of town with easy access ashore.
“We work on occasion and this necessitates travelling and we spend time abroad. Living at Beechcroft Development, we will be able to ‘lock up and leave’ – and that will certainly work as there’s an Estate Manager on hand to keep on eye on things – including our home and car.”
Pack efficiently – layers are usually the key.
Don’t over pack – cabins can be quite small and a massive suitcase is overwhelming. There is usually a laundry service on board.
Make sure you pack warm clothes for travelling when you disembark – and it can be quite cold in the evenings.
Do check the dress code – it may include some restaurants that require formal attire.
Keep essentials in your hand luggage because it can take time for your suitcase to arrive at your cabin.
Remember you can stay on board – you don’t have to disembark at every port.
Change it up – you don’t have to eat in the same place at every meal – there are usually several restaurants and café/bars.
Check how much you are supposed to tip – usually you need to tip a variety of staff members and the cruise line should give you some indication.
Spa – many cruise ships have spas and you can sometimes buy a day pass or a week pass – some people buy spa cabins which provide free access to the spa during the trip and the extra charge is often less than the price of a pass for a week and there may be discounts on treatment prices for port and embarkation days.
Budget for shore excursions – but check whether there are trips you could make on your own/in a small group as organised excursions can be expensive.
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