- As more travellers look for variety and in-depth destination experiences while enjoying the ease and comforts of a cruise holiday, a major new trend sees holidaymakers getting more culture and time on land than ever before - the 'cruise and stay' holiday. Imagine Cruising is one company that adds top hotels at the start or end of a cruise holiday with some of the biggest firms, including Cunard and P&O Cruises. This means you can turn a seven-night cruise into an 11-night trip or an 11-night cruise into and 18-night holiday. For example, an 11-night Italian journey with Imagine Cruising starts with flights to Genoa and a seven-night cruise with P&O Ventura, before a four-night luxury Lake Garda stay, from £999 per person.
- Short cruises are already available but cruise lines such as Fred. Olsen Cruise Lines and P&O Cruises are increasing the number available in 2014. While short two- to four-day cruises have typically been reserved for older ships, in the US new ships are introducing short cruise offerings, including Norwegian Breakaway, which will offer two-day sailings from New York. Short cruises are an ideal taster if you're a new cruiser and a great introduction to new destinations if you're a frequent cruiser. A recent Cruise Critic poll found that 54 per cent of cruise tourists have either already tried or would consider one, while just 18 per cent said that it didn't suit them but they see the benefits for first-timers.
- With 2014 being the year of sport due to major events like the Winter Olympics in Russia, World Cup in Brazil and Commonwealth Games in Scotland, cruise companies are getting into the sporting spirit and offering a range of cruises for sports enthusiasts. ITC Luxury Travel's Cricket Cruise in March takes in eight Caribbean islands and three cricket matches on the way, with visits to Antigua, St Barths, Barbados and Martinique, as well as lunch with cricketer Paul Allott. In May, Windstar Cruises is offering a Grand Prix of Monaco Voyage with its own view of the 2014 Formula One Grand Prix, plus the chance for passengers to grab seats for qualifying races and the finals. MSC Divina will be celebrating baseball history with a series of baseball-themed Caribbean cruises throughout 2014.
Savvy cruisers will be booking shore excursions online before their holiday, often through independent tour operators rather than with the cruise lines in 2014. A Cruise Critic poll revealed that 59 per cent book through the cruise line and 41 per cent through independent companies. The competition benefits cruisers by delivering more excursion choices and unique offerings. Disney Cruise Line’s family archaeological digs in Athens and Azamara’s red carpet event at the Mikhailovsky Theater in St. Petersburg are a couple of unique experiences cruisers can enjoy.
Far-flung cruises are set to be big this year with the Panama Canal celebrating its 100th anniversary, more Japan-centric cruises in 2014 and Hong Kong getting a sparkling new cruise terminal, the Kai Tak Cruise Terminal. Australia is now firmly on the cruising map and heading Down Under by ship is the new way to see the vast country. Luxury yacht cruise firm Compagnie du Ponant new eight-day cruise to Indonesia, Australia and New Zealand takes in snorkelling in the Great Barrier Reef and encounters with Aboriginal people. While Silversea's new Silver Discoverer ship will take travellers to remote and undiscovered destinations in the Far East, Polynesia and Australasia from March.
- The popularity of river cruises continues to rise and the fleets are expanding, offering cruisers more choice, particularly when it comes to pricing. The good news is that as the industry becomes more competitive, there will be more options available. Cruise Critic tells us that travellers will be able to select all-inclusive cruises or a la carte options, resulting in more choice and better value. For example, Scenic Tours includes tours, meals and all drinks, while Emerald Waterways offers a less-inclusive cruise option to which tours and extras can be added.
- British cruisers are getting younger and ABTA recently revealed there has been particular interest from 16 to 24 year olds for cruise holidays, with 19 per cent saying they are considering a cruise in 2014, which is more than double the 7 per cent that took one in 2013. Phil Evans, founder of Cruise Nation, tells us: "This year will see more and more people in their twenties booking a fly and cruise holiday for the first time. With revamped interiors, live music, DJ sets and exciting cruise itineraries to near and far-flung destinations, the under 30s are realising that a hassle-free coastal and city adventure can be had at half the costs of a DIY holiday."
- Adventure cruise holidays will be more popular in 2014 as new routes to South America and the Far East open up and people look to make the most of their time-off and hard-earned money. Cruise Nation tells us their best-selling deal of 2013 was a four-night stay in Hawaii combined with an Alaskan Wilderness cruise and an Amtrak train journey from Seattle to Los Angeles from £1,599. Similar action-packed itineraries are expected to fly off the shelves this year.
Family cruising just gets bigger every year and 2014 is no exception. With so many on-board activities for kids, such as child-friendly pools, kids clubs and family dining, there's no reason not to take your little ones on a cruise holiday. P&O Cruises' new Mediterranean Fly-cruises are ideal for introducing your children to iconic European destinations, like Rome, Barcelona, Venice and Dubrovnik on a seven-day trip. And if you ever wondered about going on a Disney Cruise, we recently discovered that adults enjoy it as much as Mickey Mouse-loving kids. Tots Too has launched a family-friendly cruise itinerary with Crystal Cruises, offering one child to travel free on the London to Venice, Barcelona to Monte Carlo and Singapore cruises.
To mark the 70th anniversary of the Normandy Landings, guests onboard Azamara Club Cruises’ Azamara Journey can visit pivotal battlegrounds and villages from the D-Day invasion. Marking the historic day in Cherbourg on 6 June 2014 guests can visit Omaha Beach, the Normandy American Cemetery and Memorial and other significant landmarks.
Join Azamara Club Cruises (azamaraclubcruises.co.uk) on the Azamara Journey on an 11-night Memories of WWII fly/cruise from £3,189 per person (based on two people sharing an interior stateroom). Price includes return flights from London Heathrow, transfers and an 11-night cruise departing from Lisbon (Portugal) and calling at destinations including Cherbourg, Honfleur and Hamburg; meals and entertainment onboard and all relevant cruise taxes/fees. Price is based on 3 June 2014 UK departure.