A cruise that visits destinations around the UK is the perfect taster for those clients unsure whether life at sea will suit them. Besides that, it’s ideal for those who don’t wish to fly.

UK cruising is booming, with 1.21 million cruise visitors making calls into British ports last year, a 19% growth rate.  It’s not that surprising, especially when you consider that cruising is the simplest, most cost-effective way to see this country’s major sights in one holiday.  From bustling cities, remote islands, royal palaces and scenic countryside to World Heritage sites, fascinating wildlife, National Parks and wild moorland, the UK delivers a wealth of attractions and experiences. “Our growth as a destination is testament to our world-class attractions and the tireless work of all involved in the British cruise industry,” confirmed Angie Redhead, chair, CruiseBritain.

Stress-free cruising

UK voyages are bestsellers for Fred. Olsen Cruise Lines. “We get closer to most destinations, many of which larger cruise ships cannot reach,” said Justin Stanton, sales and marketing director. The Scottish Winter Warmer December cruise on Black Watch visits Scotland’s blockbuster capital, offers the chance to hunt for the legendary Loch Ness Monster, includes a traditional Highland dancing display and gives guests the chance to enjoy locally crafted whisky. Another trip, ideal for film buffs, is Balmoral’s eight-night ‘set jetting’ cruise, departing Newcastle on 6 August 2017. Tours include Glen Nevis, where scenes from Braveheart and Highlander were filmed, Glencoe, James Bond’s family home in Skyfall, and the Glenfinnan Viaduct, famed for Harry Potter’s Hogwarts Express, while in Belfast guests can visit the popular Game of Thrones locations.

Fred Olsen has amended its policy so that British Isles cruises are available to anyone with photographic identification, including EU national ID card, council-issued bus pass / travel card, firearms license and ValIDate UK card.

The company continues to meet its own policy of verifying guests’ identity and complying with the International Ship and Port Facility Security

(ISPS) Code.  However, it reminds clients that valid passports must be produced for cruises calling at ports in the Irish Republic.

The ultimate ‘staycation’

Hebridean Princess - Scotland
Hebridean Princess in Scotland

Seabourn has an annual Dover-to-Dover cruise, which Lynn Narraway, MD Seabourn UK, said sells well. “Our 16-day Jewels of the National Trust itinerary includes visits to Cawdor Castle; a zodiac exploration of Copinsay RSPB Nature Reserve; UNESCO tour of the Ring of Brodgar; front row seats at the Royal Edinburgh Military Tattoo; taking a foodie tour of Dublin; or walking the Giant’s Causeway. With no airfares involved, it’s the ultimate staycation!”

Talking of staycations, Ian Crawford from CruiseDeals.co.uk remarked: “This is making waves within the cruise sector too, as many holidaymakers look for the easiest, cheapest and most comfortable way to explore Britain’s sights.”  He continued: “We’ve seen a significant rise in the number of Brits opting for close-to-home cruises, with Ireland and the Scottish Highlands proving particularly popular. Even those who have always lived in Britain choose cruising to discover something new.”

Touch of luxury

A luxurious haven of gracious living, Hebridean Princess, chartered by HM The Queen and renowned for voyages in and around the Scottish islands, celebrates her 30th cruising season in 2018. MD Ken Charleson commented: “Next summer Hebridean Princess will venture to the south of England, calling at Dublin and the Isles of Scilly. There will be new walking itineraries and a cycling cruise accompanied by Olympic cyclist Chris Boardman.”

Seafarers ahoy

When Saga Pearl II departs Portsmouth next April for a maritime-themed sailing, passengers will be tapping their feet to traditional sea shanties. Guests can also bowl round the Guernsey countryside in a 1954 vintage coach and take to the waves on a Brixham trawler during a Dartmouth visit. The seafaring theme even extends to special menus on board. Other lines operating British Isles cruises include Crystal, offering one in both 2017 and 2018.  Mick Dupont, Crystal’s head of UK sales, commented: “Although our guests are well travelled, a round-Britain cruise is still on their wish list as it gives them an opportunity to visit some of this country’s most iconic places.”

Cruise & Maritime Voyages’ British Isles cruises are consistently popular, with 95 per cent sold for 2017 and over 35 per cent sold for 2018.  Eighty per cent of bookings have come through the travel trade. Lisa Jacobs, head of trade sales, said: “We offer full trade support plus a comprehensive ship visit programme, product launches and fam trips.” Next year, CMV offers 11 UK departure points, ideal for travel trade looking for local departures.

SELL IT

1 Suggest pre- and post-cruise stays so that clients can take time to experience more of the region.

2 Point out that UK cruises offer the ultimate in convenience, and no limits on hand luggage or liquids.

3 Emphasise the attractions of closer-to-home cruising. Besides seeing several places in one holiday, it means no driving hassles, traipsing around with luggage or booking hotels.

4 Those unsure about cruising can enjoy a sampler with a two- or three-night cruise closer to home.

5 A round-Britain cruise is a convenient way to see major sights, providing an opportunity to explore hit her to unexplored areas.

BOOK IT

SAGA offers a four-night Round the Island Regatta cruise on Sapphire, departing Dover, 20 June 2018. Anchoring off the Isle of Wight for guests to see the Yacht Race, the itinerary also includes St Peter Port and Portsmouth.  From £718pp. saga.co.uk/trade 0800 074 8021

FRED OLSEN offers a seven-night ‘Scottish Highlands and Islands’ Black Watch cruise from Rosyth (Edinburgh) on 10 September 2017.  Calls include Invergordon, Lerwick, Tobermory and Kirkwall. From £1,249pp for an ocean view cabin. fredolsencruises.com/travelagentcentre 01473 746164

HEBRIDEAN PRINCESS offers a 10-night British Isles cruise departing Portland 17 August 2018. Calls include Dartmouth, Fowey, Isles of Scilly, Beaumaris, Douglas, Oban.  From £6,500pp. hebridean.co.uk 01756 704 704

NORWEGIAN offers a 12-day British Isles cruise on Jade from Southampton on 4 May 2018. Calls include Guernsey, Dublin, Greenock, Kirkwall, Inverness and Newcastle. From £1,819pp for the new Premium All Inclusive offering, adding value of up to £1,200 per stateroom. agents-uk.ncl.eu 0333 2412319

 

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