Ship ahoy: Cruise holidays ahead

KATE MEAD
Last updated 08:51 11/12/2012
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BOARDING NOW: New Zealanders are really embracing the fly and cruise options that are becoming increasingly available to a wide range of destinations in Asia, the Pacific, North America and Europe.

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What's hot

Australia and the South Pacific are always popular cruise destinations with New Zealanders because they're close to home and convenient, says Jessica Allan, from cruise specialists Cruiseabout.

"Typically, the most sought- after cruises for these regions are for 10 to 14 nights, allowing you to really relax and unwind and enjoy all the offerings on board while still making the most of your port stops."

Further afield, Mediterranean voyages are fantastic for those who are taking a cruise holiday for the first time, she says. "They provide great value for money and there are so many different ships and itineraries to choose from."

First-time cruisers - known in the trade as FTCs - will also often make their choice what based on feedback and recommendations from family and friends.

However Allan says there's definitely now a trend towards smaller ships, "largely because of the higher quality of personalised service and the smaller ports that they are able to access".

Also becoming increasingly popular for savvy cruisers is combining two shorter length cruises back-to-back, which allows them to experience a voyage of about three weeks, without having to pack up in the middle. It is, says Allan, "the ultimate in convenience".

New Zealanders are really embracing the fly and cruise options that are becoming increasingly available to a wide range of destinations in Asia, the Pacific, North America and Europe.

"This is when the customer can buy their cruise and airfares in an all- inclusive package at one up- front cost, offering great savings through the wholesale airfares that are included.

"The fly and cruise option is particularly great because it still offers the flexibility to add on a stopover or extend your holiday in a particular location if you wish to do so," Allan says. This is particularly popular for Kiwis doing European cruises. If you're flying for a day or more to get to Europe, you want to make the most of it.

Up and coming

River cruising is extremely popular for several reasons - the ship size is smaller, they stop daily in different towns and cities allowing passengers to take in a wealth of history while on their holiday and there is minimal chance of seasickness on a river cruise, Allan says. "It's also a great alternative for people who have already done a coach tour of Europe, because seeing this area from the river offers a totally different experience."

And Asia is becoming increasingly popular with experienced cruisers as they look to experience the destination in a softer and safer environment than they might if they were travelling there alone.

Luxury cruises with the high-end Silversea and Seabourn cruise companies - think butler service, six-star comforts, Michelin-level dining - are also on the rise as New Zealanders look to treat themselves to a slice of heaven on their next cruise.

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Allan's tipping Antarctica as the next "big" destination for Kiwi cruisers. "We will see more cruisers travelling there from 2014 with Celebrity Cruises beginning services to [Antarctica] and Holland America increasing the number of sailings they offer.

"This is going to make it much more accessible and affordable for New Zealand travellers."

- Sunday Star Times

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