Is it time to try a cruise holiday?

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There was a time I vowed never to take a cruise holiday: too restrictive, too pedestrian and far, far too dull. Yet, in the last 12 months alone, I’ve been on four seafaring holidays and I already have a couple more planned. Spending 14 days on a ‘floating shopping precinct full of bored retirees’ is still not my idea of a holiday, but the reality is this type of cruise Discount Holidays © holiday is, well, quite far from reality.

With new ships, new itineraries and a new-found willingness for tourists to set sail, such cliches about the cruise industry are rapidly disappearing. In light of National Cruise Week, which runs until September 27, new research commissioned by ABTA shows that cruising is growing in popularity; in the last 12 months, one in 10 (10 per cent) of British holidaymakers took a cruise an increase from seven per cent in 2014. So what’s changed?

Part of the growth is down to returning passengers: 80 per cent of people who have been on a cruise said they’d like to go again. Proof that once they’ve dipped their toes in the water, most tourists appreciate the variety of possibilities for ocean or river-based breaks.

“In recent years the cruise market has expanded outside the traditional Mediterranean and Caribbean destinations and now offers an incredible variety of voyages, including Scandinavian cruises, Arctic cruises and European river cruises,” says ABTA chief executive Mark Tanzer. Of course, there is still the option to travel on 6,000-passenger palaces such as Oasis of the Seas if that, ahem, floats your boat, but the experience is hardly the garish nightmare imagined.

Slick West End shows, restaurants guided by gourmet chefs and spas souped up beyond five-star standards, make these voyages a delight for many.

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