Cruise holidays are the flavour of the season this summer. More and more families are discovering the joys of a cruise vacation – they get to sample multiple holiday destinations without the headache of packing and unpacking each time, they get to enjoy fantastic entertainment on board the cruise with the added value of all meals being included in the cruise price. Travellers now have a wide choice of cruiseliners, cruise ships and cruise itineraries with varied durations from 2 to 15 days to choose from.
As a result, there has been a significant growth in the number of families with children, who are looking at cruise holidays for their summer vacation this year. Families typically book week-long cruises and prefer balcony cabins so that they can enjoy the views of the sea from the privacy of their cabin.
While many destinations around the world see strong demand at this time of the year, cruises to Alaska and Europe top the list of choices for the Indian traveller this summer. Usually on the bucket list of most discerning travellers, an Alaska cruise is a ‘’must do’’ experience. The ports in the Mediterranean – both Eastern and Western are popular holiday spots and best sampled on a cruise vacation. Western Mediterranean cruises from Barcelona to Italy and France is the most popular choice this summer.
An Alaska cruise is a must-have on any travellers bucket list, and nearly a million people take cruises to Alaska each year (and with good reason). It is one of America’s most beautiful states, and is famous for its serene summers, pristine coastline, exotic wildlife and stunning glaciers.
Most Alaska cruises follow the coastline, starting at Seattle or Vancouver and ending in Anchorage or Whittier, giving travellers the opportunity to absorb the beauty of the Alaskan coast. On your visit to Alaska, make sure you do not miss out on some of the most popular destinations, including:
- Denali National Park (Mt. McKinley), one of the highest peaks in the world
- Kodiak Island, home to the largest bears in the world
- WWII National Historic Area, which has been set up to commemorate the attacks on the Aleutian islands during World War II
- Skagway, known for its great history, still holds strong remnants of the gold rush era of the 19th century
- The Inside Passage, one of the most popular and scenic cruise routes, takes visitors through Alaska’s south eastern coast
- Ketchikan, a historic town known for its vast array of Native American totem poles
Cruise liners such as Norwegian Cruise Line, Celebrity, Oceania & Holland America have been offering great deals for Alaska cruises this summer. Cruise packages start from as low as USD 499 per person for an inside cabin for a 7-day cruise( plus port taxes). Cruiseliners have enticing promotional offers like free internet, free shore excursions, on-board credit offers and more.
Europe & the Mediterranean
Europe is another popular choice for summer cruises. With pristine beaches, charming medieval cities, verdant valleys and snow clad mountains, it comes as no surprise that the continent draws more than one-third of the world’s tourist population. Summer cruises have seen a large number of advance bookings this year, with Spain and Italy among the favourite destinations, thanks to attractive airfares to Europe from major airlines operating from India.
While the mainland has a wealth of travel-worthy destinations, any cruise to Europe is not complete without experiencing the rich heritage, diverse cuisine and historical significance of the Mediterranean. With the world’s newest and best ships being deployed in the Mediterranean this summer, such as Norwegian Epic, Royal Carribbean’s Harmony of the Seas & Royal Princess, it is no surprise that Mediterranean cruises have become popular with the Indian traveller this summer. Besides, major cruise departure ports like Venice, Barcelona and Rome are huge attractions in themselves, with travellers often spending 3 to 4 nights in these destinations boarding their cruise.
Both the Eastern and Western Mediterranean cruises are very well received in the summer. The most popular Eastern Mediterranean cruises start and end at Venice, taking you to a number of excellent cities that reveal history and culture dating back to thousands of years:
- Bari, Italy: One of the largest cities in southern Italy, Bari is famous for the Castel del Monte, the Cathedral and the Basilica di San Nicola.
- Katakolon – Olympia, Greece: The port of Katakolon is of the most important archaeological sites in Greece. Katakolon is the gateway to Olympia, the site of the ancient Olympics.
- Mykonos, Greece: This is among of the most glamorous parts of the Mediterranean, and is frequented by the rich and the famous throughout the year.
- Piraeus – Athens, Greece: The largest seaport in the Mediterranean, Piraeus has been the major port of Athens since the days of Themistocles.
- Dubrovnik, Croatia: The ancient town of Dubrovnik is popular for its museums and Mediterranean lifestyle.
- Venice, Italy: Also known as the “Queen Adriatic”, Venice is known worldwide for its Grand Canal and gondolas, its seafood, architecture, artists, poets, Venetian glass, masks and lace. The Basilica di San Marco is a must see.
The Western Mediterranean cruises start and end in either Barcelona or Rome, and allow you to soak in some of the finest European culture and glorious cuisine.
- Barcelona, Spain: This great Spanish port city is famous for its old world ambience, avant-garde architecture and sandy beaches.
- Naples, Italy: Known as the birthplace of pizza, the origin of Naples dates back to 600 BC. It is well known for its castles, museums and town squares (piazzas).
- Rome, Italy: Home to the Vatican, Rome’s history spans more than two and a half millennia. It is famous for producing most of the world’s greatest artists and architectural marvels.
- Florence, Italy: The tiny riverside city boasts of world-class art and fashion. The narrow streets of Florence still retain the essence of the Renaissance and are a history lover’s delight.
- Cannes, France: Located on the French Riviera, Cannes epitomizes glamour, wealth and sophistication. It is also home to the world’s biggest film festival.
- Marseille, France: This vibrant port city was voted the European capital of culture in 2013. Make sure you take the open-topped tourist starting from the Vieux Port.
July and August are the high season months for most destinations in Europe (except ski resorts). So it makes sense to plan your cruises between April and June (shoulder season). You can expect pleasant weather, bright skies, reasonable airfares and fewer crowds at this time of the year.
Travellers can choose from a large number of cruise packages, which also include great discounts and free services. Almost every popular cruise liner is offering attractive summer cruise deals for Europe:
- Costa Cruises have a limited period offer for families where your companion and kids under 18 travel at no charge
- Windstar Cruises are offering discounts of up to 81%. Packages start for as low as USD 1,399 per person for a 6 day cruise
- Oceania Cruises have huge discounts on their 17 day cruise to Europe that starts at Mumbai, India. You can save up to USD 2,600 if you book early.
- Regent Seven Seas have a 25% discount of select sailings
- Holland America Line is offering discounts and benefits amounting to USD 3,000 on select Europe cruises.
If you are planning a summer cruise to Alaska or Europe, book your cruise well in advance to make sure you get the best cabins and the best deals on offer.