Going on holiday can mean a chance to spend time with family, recharge your batteries, or try out exhilarating new activities, but for many people, a vacation is an opportunity to really relax and experience true luxury for a couple of weeks. A cruise is the perfect remedy for holidaymakers who want to get away from it all without having to lift a finger.
Cruises are popular luxury breaks for a combination of reasons, including a great range of onboard amenities, a high standard of accommodation and a comprehensive list of potential destinations, and there are all sorts of getaways to suit every type of holidaymaker.
Young couples, families, the over 50s and singles are all catered for by cruise companies, so it's worth spending some time researching the type of holiday you're after to ensure you find something that suits your requirements.
Which amenities are important to you?
Most cruise ships are equipped with a range of restaurants, a swimming pool, a games area or deck and various types of evening entertainment, but if you're looking for specific facilities, you should think about exactly what you're hoping to find on your boat.
If you're travelling with children, kids' clubs are a must, as these can keep youngsters busy during days spent at sea, and can also provide mum and dad with some free time to spend alone. If you're looking to pamper yourself, pick a vessel with an onboard spa and treatment rooms, so you can indulge in a massage or relax in a Jacuzzi. Some ships are even kitted out with hairdressers and beauty salons, so you don't need to forgo your weekly trips to get your hair and nails done.
Fans of the performing arts will often find a theatre onboard, which will put on plays, cabaret shows or Broadway productions, while bookworms might prefer a vessel with a library. There are often tennis or basketball courts on cruise ships, as well as fitness centres, so you can maintain your usual exercise routine during your getaway.
Levels of accommodation
You might be happy with a basic cabin if you're after a budget break, but look for special offers that will help you keep costs down while also providing you with extra luxury. If you book well in advance, you could be entitled to spending money onboard, or a percentage discount on your break, meaning you can upgrade to a more sumptuous cabin that perhaps offers a balcony and a sea view.
If you want to make sure the ship you plan to travel on is clean and elegant, take a look at cruise reviews before you commit to anything. Left by other cruisers, these reviews can help give you a better insight into what to expect from your break, from the service offered by staff to the meals served up in the eateries onboard.
To experience real luxury during your stay, take a look at ships that offer fine dining opportunities and the chance to go all inclusive, so you can totally relax without having to worry about paying for drinks or meals.
A wide range of destinations
Another draw of cruise holidays is the wealth of destinations ships travel to. You can depart from Southampton and reach an array of locations, including Scandinavia, Poland, Russia and the Mediterranean, or choose a fly cruise and take a flight to the USA or Canada to board a ship set for Alaska.
Transatlantic cruises are popular among those who want to experience New York's renowned art galleries and museums, while Caribbean cruises are ideal for beach bums who love nothing more than sipping a cocktail on white sand.