A couple of years ago, one of my best friends took a cruise around the Norwegian fjords and I was
insanely jealous really happy for her. This week guest blogger Laura McKay shows that you don't have to travel far to join a luxury cruise in the UK. Enjoy!
Think cruises and you might think far-flung tropical ports and Caribbean islands sliding into view, but also mounting costs and potentially hours of flight-time before you even set sail. With more cruises from the UK available every year, this doesn't have to be the case. Lose the delays, the staggered travel plans and the added stress and you could be sailing the far reaches of the Baltic region or enjoying the balmy waters of the Med in hardly any time at all.
Up to 10 different British ports now operate cruises around the British Isles and on to Western Europe, Scandinavia and even the U.S. From Southampton to Leith, Belfast to Greenock, wherever you live in the country, there's a convenient port only a coach ride or drive away. Ships from operators like Fred Olsen, Cunard and P & O are all offering variety of mini and fortnightly sea breaks.
Some of the most popular options take in the sights of southern Portugal and Spain, making port at places like Lisbon and Gibraltar while others head north for the stunning Norwegian fjords, Stockholm and even St. Petersburg. “Highlights” itineraries of the Mediterranean are available, travelling to destinations as diverse as Corfu and Dubrovnik. Typical journeys last around 13 or 14 nights, with around four to five days at sea between stops.
You can make a cruise from Britain as short or long as you like; there are plenty of mini-getaways to places like the Channel Islands and Amsterdam to whet the appetite. An example round-trip from Southampton to Paris and Bruges takes about four days with plenty of on-shore time for shopping and sightseeing.
Alternatively, some cruise lines offer month-long packages for those who want to explore West African ports like Dakar in Senegal without having to fly, or there are one-way transatlantic trips to New York for those who don't mind a return journey by air.
There are options to suit all travellers debarking from British shores these days, with a range of themed cruises from Disney to wine-tasting, depending on your preference. If the thought of having to hang around an airport, worry about baggage restrictions or even the flying itself is putting you off a holiday this year, your local cruise port may just have the answer.
Laura McKay is a British travel writer who specialises in European breaks.