New to Cruise

Leia Morales on 12 May 2022
After 12 years in the travel industry selling cruise, I have finally been on my first and second cruises in the space of a month. It wasn’t something that was planned that way, but opportunities presented themselves and now I am a cruise convert. I always thought that if I was going to take a cruise it would be to a destination best served by cruise such as Alaska or the Panama Canal. Instead, I took a 3 night Royal Caribbean cruise onboard Voyager of the Seas with my 7 year old daughter and mum in April followed by a 7 night cruise onboard Virgin Voyages Valiant Lady with my husband. What I have learnt is that the experience is as much about the ship as it is about the sailing.

My first cruising experience with Royal Caribbean was perfect for the multi-generation travelling party I was with. We enjoyed games of bingo and silent discos where my mum could listen to ABBA while my daughter and I listened to Bruno Mars. We ate 3 course dinners in the main dining room and filled our plates at the breakfast buffet. The ship had waterslides, kids clubs and the infamous Flowrider. Mum could find a quiet space to read her book while my daughter spent hours in the top deck pool.

In complete contrast, my second cruise experience was an adults only haven, as much a place to be seen as a place to be yourself. Virgin Voyages launched last year during the pandemic with sailings from the UK. As their planned service resumes, I was on the Mermaiden Voyage of Valiant Lady from her European homeport of Barcelona. The event was important enough for the man himself, Sir Richard Branson to make an appearance, sharing in the enthusiasm of his crew.

In contrast to the more formal cruise dining options available with Royal Caribbean (set times and tables sizes/additional charges for speciality dining), Virgin Voyages has over 20 eateries with exquisite, freshly prepared food. Much like the décor onboard the food is finished with finesse ready for Instagram.

Entertainment on board was diverse and world class. Bringing his Las Vegas show to the ship was Tape Face, who first discovered fame on America’s Got Talent. While the acrobatic extravaganza of Dual Reality is unlike anything I have ever seen before. For more low key entertainment, the sultry voice of Slam Allen accompanied by his blues band singing the likes of Prince and Louis Armstrong is a pleasant way to spend an evening in the whiskey bar.

The two opposing experiences that I had with cruise have made me appreciate that there is probably a cruise company out there for everyone, including those who say they will never cruise. It is important to know what you are getting. Is a variety of food important to you? Do you need drinks included? Would you prefer a larger or smaller ship? What sort of entertainment would you like?

The you need to consider the itinerary. The idea of sailing out from the UK is appealing to avoid airports but you won’t get to the more tropical destinations. Now that we are returning to some normality, so are cruise ships meaning that cruising is once again possible in the Caribbean, Asia and Australia. Covid measures varies from company to company but generally requiring all adults and sometimes all children over 5 to be vaccinated and tested before embarkation. Mask wearing onboard is generally no longer required by guests, while some companies still require their crew to wear them. Hand sanitizer is freely available and of course, in port rules will vary from country to country if you are getting off the ship to explore.

Whilst I’ve only been able to experience these two cruise lines, there are many more which offer their own unique experiences. So whether you are a seasoned cruiser looking to return to the seas or someone who has never sailed the seven seas, there is a cruise line and an itinerary out there for you.