While many cruises mean having to catch a flight for at least part of your journey, no-fly cruises offer a hassle-free straight-onto-the-ship alternative that appeals to many. With hundreds of no-fly cruises sailing from the UK every year, cruising makes dream holidays a possibility without ever having to step foot on an aircraft.
P&O Cruises is the biggest operator of no-fly cruises from these shores, with its fleet of seven ships (most based out of Southampton) offering everything from short-break cruises to Northern Europe and the Baltic to the Mediterranean and beyond.
As well as P&O Cruises, Fred. Olsen Cruise Lines, Cruise & Maritime Voyages, Voyages of Discovery, Celebrity Cruises, Royal Caribbean, Swan Hellenic and Hebridean Island Cruises offer UK departures. And from next year, these lines will be joined by Norwegian Cruise Line and Thomson Cruises.
Here is our list of the Top Ten Reasons to Take a No-Fly Cruise.
1. Skip the Airport
No one enjoys spending time at the airport – and it's usually a fair bit of time too, once you factor in those extra hours 'just in case' of heavy traffic or long queues at check-in. With a no-fly cruise once checked-in you can get straight onto your floating hotel and start your holiday. Even better, you'll usually have many of the ship's facilities and eateries available for you to use while you wait to set sail. A quick dip in the swimming pool followed by a bite to eat from the FREE buffet sounds much more appealing than hanging around at the gate with an overpriced panini.
2. Forget Fearful Flying
Up to 10 percent of people have a genuine phobia of flying, with between 20 and 30 percent feeling apprehensive before they fly. For flight-o-phobes (or the correct term 'aviophobics') no-fly cruises could mean the difference between going on that dream holiday or missing out. It also means that those who endure flying anxiously don't have to begin or end their holiday in fear.
3. Pack and Unpack Once
While airlines have strict rules when it comes to baggage weight, size and contents, you'll find yourself far less restricted on a no-fly cruise – which is just as well with all that fancy eveningwear to fit in. The allowances vary from line to line, so check before you pack. For example, Royal Caribbean doesn't restrict passengers' luggage (other than to suggest bringing a 'reasonable' amount), while P&O says bags must weigh less than 32kg for safe handling. Keep in mind that what you take needs to fit into your cabin, though – it's no fun having to clamber over a stack of cases to get into bed.
4. Great for Kids
Kids and flying don't always mix well, especially if you've got young children who don't like to sit still for minutes, let alone hours. Waiting around at airports is super boring for kids of all ages, but add on flights and transfers too and it's likely that mum and dad's nerves are going to be well and truly frayed by the time they reach their destination. With a no-fly cruise you can cut the potential for tantrums considerably, and start your happy family holiday in true Brady-Bunch style (maybe).
5. No Worries About Delays or Cancelled Flights
Relying on a flight to get you to your cruise on time can sometimes feel like a risk, especially if you have to make your own arrangements. Delayed, cancelled or missed flights can throw a massive spanner into the works when it comes to catching your cruise ship connection, and just the possibility of a problem can be stressful. Eliminate all flight-related issues that could throw your cruise off course by taking air travel out of the equation.
6. Cruise from Your Local Port
While it's true that the majority of cruises from Australia set sail from Sydney, an increasing number of ships depart from other ports including Brisbane, Cairns, Adelaide, Fremantle and Melbourne.
7. No-Hassle Holidays
One of the main reasons no-fly cruises prove popular is that they offer the ultimate no-hassle holiday. Once you're on the ship it's your home for the duration, with no connections to catch, hotels to check into, bags to drag from A to B or transfers to trouble you. You will also have great leisure facilities on your cabin doorstep, from relaxing spas and swimming pools to casinos and kids' clubs, plus great places to eat and drink - all available for use from the moment you check-in.
8. No Getting Bored Onboard
There's no chance of getting bored onboard -- the massive megaships sailing today have everything from waterparks to roller-skating rinks, climbing walls and a vast choice of bars, restaurants and shops. On smaller ships facilities will be more limited, but you will always find a swimming pool, spa, activities program, fitness centre, library and lounge areas.
9. Better Value For Money
Subtract flights, and the cost-per-day of the cruise often works out a lot cheaper than a fly-cruise.
10. Enjoy a Repositioning Cruise
Every spring and autumn, Europe and Caribbean ships do a transatlantic ship swap, with those ships based in the Caribbean for our winter heading over to the Mediterranean in March and April. They stay here for the summer and then head back in the autumn – often half full as they don't stop anywhere and are relatively long journeys to Miami and South America. As as a result fares are deeply discounted – often with a return flight thrown in.