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  • Writer's pictureChantell van den Heever

To cruise or not to cruise? ...that is the question!

I often have people enquiring about a cruising holiday, and my first question usually is - "What is it about a cruise holiday that you are attracted to?" their answer quickly determines whether a cruise holiday and what type of cruise holiday is a suitable choice, to spend their hard-earned money on.

Hopefully this will provide you with some insight into whether a cruise holiday is a good choice for you at this moment of your life, and then most importantly what type of cruise holiday is best for you.

Mostly, people are attracted to the price. It is true that a cruise holiday provides so much more than a bed. When you pay for your cruise holiday, your "commute" from one amazing place to the next is paid for, on most cruises all your gourmet meals are paid for, your magical evening entertainment and on-board activities are all paid for. On some even drinks are included and daily off-shore excursions. When looking at the price and comparing the many options, you should make sure you are comparing what's included very carefully. River cruises are usually more expensive but mostly include drinks at mealtimes and at least one off-shore excursion is already included. The one offer may seem more expensive at first glance, but make sure you have done your homework. Planning a spending-money budget from here is so much easier.

The cruise Itinerary is attractive and interesting This statement is very true but this is also where you start discovering what type of cruise will be best suited. The big cruise-liners with 1000+ passengers on board can only dock at the bigger ports. This is perfect when you are doing a 7–10-day trip to see the big cities and the famous tourist sites. If you are looking for back-roads, small villages and mostly off-the beaten track kind of trip, you will be better off looking at the smaller cruise ships, river cruises or even self-driven barging.

I am not saying you cannot visit small villages & off the beaten track places on the bigger cruise ship itineraries, you can - but will most likely, be spending more time on busses once docked, to get to these places. Embarking and disembarking thousands of passengers also takes time, albeit professionally managed. Choosing a smaller ship or river cruise, or self-driven barge, you will be docking either in the town or village or very close by. Embarking and disembarking is much quicker and easier, leaving you more time to actually explore. You can also return to the ship when the shopping bags are too heavy, or kids are tired or you simply want to relax a little before exploring again before departure late afternoon.

The Entertainment and things to do whilst cruising and at sea. Cruise ships offer some of the best entertainment on offer whilst on holiday. Broadway shows, spectacular magical shows and theatre, trapeze, circus, musicals- you name it, they offer it and it is usually already included in your cruise price. On river cruises the entertainment is on a much smaller scale but of high quality and usually entertainers from the region that you are cruising through, so you get a taste of "local" traditional entertainment.

When at sea on the large cruise ships you and your kids will not be bored. Every kind of activity that you can think of is on offer. Kids and teens clubs, daily entertainment programmes, swimming pools, waterslides, ice rinks, climbing walls - each ship is almost a floating city. Restaurants, Ice Cream bars, old style diners and wide choices of dining options. Spa and wellness centres, fitness centres and shops (yes shops!) River cruises and smaller cruise ships are not floating cities and everything is on a smaller scale but that does not mean it is less of a choice. River cruising has no "days at sea" but do have scenic cruise days. Less dining options but still of a very high gourmet standard. Small fitness centres and spa and wellness offers. Usually small pool and whirlpools. Their focus is on the quality not quantity. Then lastly, considering a self-driven barging holiday on the canals of Europe could quite possibly be one of the most unique, inexpensive holidays for a family or group of friends. Imagine being the Captain of your own boat. You get a quick rundown on how to steer, a map and a date you need to be back. The rest is up to you. Dock every day and cycle to the villages, eat local, make your own food, stay the night and travel the next day. No pools, no entertainment - just you, your companions, the boat, the canal and the scenery and village life.

y0 . y . . 30 .ts ... Considering the itinerary - you need to ask yourself the following questions -

a) will you be exploring all day and on board at night only? do I really need the resort style holiday the big ocean cruise has to offer? b) Are you travelling with children and teens that need entertainment?

c) Do you need to be entertained?

d) Are you at sea on many of the days on the itinerary?

e) Are you wanting a resort style holiday whilst exploring or are you are looking for small cities, good food and a glass of wine before heading off to bed to look through all your photos of the day?

f) do you want to be the captain of your own ship?

Which one are you - Big Ocean cruise, small Ocean or River Cruise, or self-driven barging holiday?

We will be happy to chat more about your plans and holiday. Reach out to us at

XL The Travel Professionals so that we can guide you to your best holiday choice.

Tel 061 253528 / 084 000 2230

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