Six of the best cruises for 2023/24
11 minute read
We’ve come up with some of the best cruises in six different categories to help you pick your next big trip for 2023/24
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As we get older, many of us begin to appreciate the many benefits a cruise holiday can offer. Cruises allow you to see multiple destinations in comfort and style, without the hassle of preparing an itinerary, finding accommodation or re-packing.
Larger, new-build ships are designed with accessibility in mind and this extends to cabins, theatres, restaurants and swimming pools. Some lines accommodate assistance dogs and offer assisted shore excursions. All of the cruise lines mentioned in our guide at the time of writing will have medical staff on board.
In this guide, we highlight six different types of cruise and match each category to a best-fit ship or cruise holiday. We’ll also offer some practical tips to make sure your cruise holiday goes off without a hitch.
Here’s a sneak peek at what’s inside the guide:
- Affordable cruises. Cruises for those who want wallet-friendly options that come in at just over £800 or less
- All-inclusive cruises. Book a cruise where everything is included in one convenient package
- Singles cruises. Perfect for solo travellers, whether you’re seeking solitude or socialising
- Family cruises. A fantastic way to make new memories and enjoy time together. Our pick of cruises is for people of all ages
- No-fly cruises. Looking for a no-fly, no-hassle break? We’ve compiled a selection of cruises from home shores
- Mini-cruises. These cruises pack big experiences into a shorter duration, perfect for dipping a toe into cruising or an easy, one-step short break
You needn’t compromise on quality when paying less for your cruise. Fares vary according to when you sail and the type of cabin you choose. Booking well in advance or holding out for a last-minute deal can bring significant savings. Inside cabins are more affordable and not having a window isn’t a problem if you plan on spending time on deck and going on excursions. On a cruise with multiple at-sea days, a cabin with a view might be worth the extra money.
- Marella Cruises has a five-country Mediterranean getaway from £883, depending on when you book. It also has accessible rooms and services
- P&O Cruises has cruises to the Canary Islands from £699. The line caters well to those with special needs
- MSC Cruise has Mediterranean summer getaways on its new ship World Europa from £649
All cruise holidays include meals, on-board entertainment, gym access, guest lectures and talks and accommodation. Beyond that is a sliding scale of inclusions covering tips, excursions, Wi-Fi, spa access, flights and alcoholic (and non-alcoholic) beverages, and dining in speciality restaurants.
Among the most inclusive lines are Viking, Regent Seven Seas, Saga, Silversea and Seabourn. British lines including P&O Cruises and Marella include tips in the cruise fare, and other lines offer bolt-on drinks packages. Ask your travel agent or cruise line for details.
- Viking includes flights, complimentary shore excursions in each port, Wi-Fi, alternative restaurant dining, 24-hour room service and access to the spa’s thermal suite
- Arguably the most luxurious cruise line at sea, Regent Seven Seas includes flights, port-to-ship transfers, free bars (including a daily replenishment of mini-bars), laundry and gratuities
Cruises for singles over 60 are growing in popularity. New-build ships feature solo cabins as standard and many lines offer dedicated solo sailings and waive the single supplement on selected sailings. Lines including Cunard, Holland America and Regent Seven Seas offer a host at tables shared by solo travellers at mealtimes and at social events. Norwegian Cruise Line groups its solo studios near a dedicated lounge for easy mingling.
- Fred Olsen’s small ships and friendly crew are popular with solo travellers. The line hosts drinks parties and mixed dining tables and offers solo cabins
- One Traveller offer fully-escorted cruise holidays with a dedicated tour manager from UK ports
- Feeling adventurous? Hurtigruten has removed the single supplement on selected sailings to destinations including the Galapagos, the Arctic and Alaska
Cruise ships provide an ideal setting for multi-generational holidays with plenty to do for all ages. The kids can stay busy at waterparks, on rope courses and in games rooms while grandparents and parents can enjoy activities at their preferred pace. Children’s clubs are free.
- Carnival is one of the most family-friendly cruise lines. Kids will appreciate the 24-hour pizza restaurant and on-tap ice cream, while mums, dads and grandparents should love the shows
- P&O Cruises screens films throughout the day at a cinema (two of its ships have outdoor screens as well). There are kids’ clubs for ages six months to 17 and a complimentary night nursery.
- Norwegian Cruise Line has family suites and interconnecting rooms and some of the best activity facilities at sea
- MSC Cruises has family cabins and dedicated family excursions
Cruising from the UK eliminates airport hassle and frees you from luggage restrictions. The list of destinations that can be reached from UK ports may surprise you.
- Fred Olsen Cruises is an award-winning British line offering departures from Liverpool, Dover, Portsmouth, Southampton, Edinburgh and Newcastle to destinations including South America, Greenland and the Indian Ocean. A World Cruise could take you as far as Australia
- Ambassador Cruise Line specialises in affordable no-fly cruises departing from ports including Belfast, Tilbury and Bristol. Its mobility policy can be found here
- Celebrity Cruises sails from Southampton to much of the Mediterranean plus Portugal, the Norwegian fjords, the Canaries, Denmark and Sweden
- Based in Southampton, P&O Cruises offers sailings to more destinations than any other line, including the Caribbean and the US
Two to four-night trips offer a taste of the cruising lifestyle without having to spend money on a holiday you may not like. En route to your destination, you’ll be able to enjoy the on-board entertainment and facilities such as the spa and gym (the larger the ship, the more facilities it will have). A mini cruise also works for a short celebration cruise or even a Christmas shopping trip. The most popular destinations are Guernsey, Le Havre, Amsterdam and Zeebrugge (for Bruges).
- Fancy Hamburg? Visit the city’s rathaus (town hall), the Indra Club, where the Beatles performed, and shop at boutiques in the historic Alster arcade, on a four-night cruise on Cunard’s Queen Mary 2. Cunard offers accessible cabins and inclusive children’s facilities
- Fill your case with cheese, wine and beer on a four-night cruise to Amsterdam and Bruges, with Ambassador Cruise Line. Departs Tilbury on December 17
- Southampton Cruise Centre has plenty of mini cruises to cities such as Amsterdam, Bruges/Brussels, Hamburg, Antwerp and Guernsey
Prices correct as of 28 July, 2023