Yes cruising. But we don’t mean ‘across a crowded room at some sensuous stranger in a sleazy late night gay bar for some hot man-on-man home-made burgers with extra mayo action’. We’re talking about holidays. On a ship.
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Cruise holidays are more popular than ever and cruise companies offer something for people of all ages and all interests. And for a hip young man-about-town like yourself, you could be pleasantly surprised. These days ships offer everything from fully equipped gyms to nightclubs, so you’ll never be bored.
Along with the surge in popularity, cruising has also become more affordable, with companies such as P&O offering cheap voyages throughout the Pacific that depart from Auckland, or Sydney and Brisbane. Passengers can visit destinations such as New Caledonia, Vanuatu, Fiji, Tonga and Samoa. Other ships cruise to four beautiful Tahitian islands as well as a trip to the Cook Islands or the Marquesas Islands. These are great for couples or a group of friends.
If you’re looking for a bit more adventure, try a cruise in Alaska, Europe, the Caribbean, South America, Asia or Hawaii. And if you get that Christmas bonus at work, you can even try river cruising through the wine regions of France or a trip to Antartica. Popular with younger travellers is a cruising holiday on a Turkish Gulet. With only 8 to 12 guests, this is a far more intimate experience that allows you to sample the local culture and natural beauty. Staying on a unique sailing vessel with comfortable cabins complete with private facilities, you can swim in the settled coves and bays dotted about the coastline.
So, what are the benefits of cruising? The biggest plus is value for money. Remember, you’re getting your transportation (to a new port of call almost every day) your accommodation, plus all your meals and entertainment included in the cost. All you really need money for is your souvenir shopping, beverages and the casino! It’s a hard life.
The beauty of it (as well as only having to unpack once) is that you can do as much or as little as you like. If lying on a deck chair is about as energetic as you feel like getting, you can usually choose between several swimming pools and spas throughout the ship. Or you could make the most of 24 hour dining, several bars, a casino, a gym, a library, duty free shopping, an internet café, fitness centre, jogging track and much more. Some of the larger ships even have simulated or miniature golf, theatres, rock climbing walls, lectures and cooking classes.
Yes, there’s plenty to do on board, but make the most of your ports of call. It’s best to book and prepay for your shore excursions as early as possible to avoid disappointment and most cruise lines also provide onboard lectures during the cruise to introduce you to the highlights of each port visit. Check for any local and cultural customs that you need to adhere to, especially dress code.
If you’d rather go it alone and explore the destination independently, it’s a good idea to at least reserve a return transfer to and from the ship. Not only will it help you get your bearings, but you’ll ensure you’re back at the ship on time.
If it’s kids you’re worried about, check with your travel agent for the cruises that have fewer families, but remember all ships have kids clubs and kids entertainment so for the most part, you won’t have a lot of contact with them. And you don’t need to spend your time in a tux either – not all cruise lines have a formal evening but if you don’t mind a bit of glamour, you can get a dress schedule before your cruise so you know what to expect.
So if cruising is something you haven’t considered before, now’s a good time. Cheaper than ever, and with more choice, you can’t go wrong.
For more information, contact House of Travel on 0800 838 747, visit www.houseoftravel.co.nz, or your nearest travel agent.
Amber Blair works for House of Travel, which has 90 outlets all over New Zealand.
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