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10 smart reasons to book a no-fly cruise

Author: Vicky Mayer

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From avoiding airport meltdowns to bagging a bargain holiday, here’s why it pays to start your journey from a UK port

Taking a cruise is one of the most relaxing ways to see the world. But if flights are involved as well, all the hassles of modern air travel can really take the edge off your enjoyment – at both ends of your holiday.

Luckily, there are now hundreds of cruises leaving from ports in the UK for destinations not just around the British Isles but in the Mediterranean, northern Europe and even further afield.

Most UK no-fly cruises sail from Southampton, but increasingly you can embark from regional ports including Tilbury, Liverpool, Dover, Portsmouth, Newcastle and Greenock, so it’s just a short drive (chauffeured, with some lines) to your chosen ship.

Naturally enough, British-based cruise lines are leading the way, so look out for great deals from the likes of Fred Olsen, Saga, Ambassador, Cunard and P&O. But some of the big US operators – including Princess, NCL, Celebrity and Royal Caribbean – also have ships home-porting in the UK.

Convenience is one benefit of sailing ex-UK but that’s just the start. Here are our 10 smart reasons why you should book a no-fly cruise today.

Southampton is a popular UK cruise port with many options for sailing. Credit: Shutterstock

1. Skip the airport

The biggest attraction of a no-fly cruise has to be sparing yourself all the bother of air travel.

Just think – no expensive parking, no jostling crowds, no endless queues at security or fretting over whether your toiletries are in the right bottles.

What’s more, your holiday starts within an hour or two of leaving home – and because you can enjoy all your ship’s great facilities, like the pool and the buffet, from the moment you step aboard, you’re also getting more value for your cruise fare.

2. Delay? No way!

One of the biggest downsides about flying overseas to join your ship is that you can literally miss the boat if your plane is delayed or cancelled (a sadly common occurrence, as most of us know to our cost).

To get round this, some people choose to fly out early and stay overnight in their departure port – but that just adds to the cost of your trip.

By choosing a no-fly cruise, all those anxieties are avoided and you can begin your holiday in the right frame of mind.

3. Banish the fear of flying

While many of us jump on planes like they’re buses, some people find just the thought of flying brings them out in a cold sweat.

Many others dread the experience but get through it with white knuckles and medication.

Sailing from a UK port, you have no such worries.

Even those who don’t fear flying still get jetlag, but choose a long- haul cruise from the likes of Cunard and you’ll avoid that too.

In the heart of Southampton, Ocean Village Marina is a pleasant place for a waterfront stroll. Credit: Shutterstock

4. Pack what you like

One of the main aggravations of flying these days is the very strict rules when it comes to your luggage – from how many bags you can travel with to how much they weigh.

Regulations on cruise ships are far more generous (though they do still apply, so check before you sail), leaving you confident that you can pack a big suitcase with all your favourite outfits and take a couple of carry-on bags too.

Now, isn’t that a great way to start your cruise holiday?

5. Save £££s

Inflation is an unfortunate fact of life at the moment, and fuel prices have shot up more than most, making flights more expensive than ever (not to mention all those other airport costs, such as extra luggage fees and pricey restaurants).

Sail from a UK port and you’ve saved yourself hundreds of pounds at a stroke.

6. Last-minute bargain bonanza

If you’re in the lucky position of being free to take a last-minute trip, no-fly cruises offer some great chances to bag a bargain.

As the departure date draws near and cruise lines want to fill their last empty cabins, you will find some seriously good discounts, even if you won’t always get your first choice of accommodation.

That applies to fly-cruises too, of course, but you then have to find last-minute flights to match, which may be impossible or so expensive that it cancels out your saving on the cruise fare.

Princess Cruises, among other cruise lines, depart from UK ports. Credit: Shutterstock

7. Travel from a local port

As an island nation, we’re lucky to have major ports all round the country, which means there’s a good chance you can join your ship somewhere conveniently near home.

Most of the big cruise lines sail from Southampton – including Princess, Celebrity, MSC and Royal Caribbean – but you’ll find plenty of lines using other regional ports.

Disney, Saga and Seabourn all sail from Dover, while Fred Olsen sails from five UK ports, and newcomer Ambassador Cruise Line offers local departures including Tilbury, Newcastle and Liverpool.

8. Happy families

One of the major stresses with multi-generational travel is – once again – the airport, whether you’re dealing with bored kids, truculent teens or helping older relatives with mobility issues.

Suffice to say, you’ll be dreaming of a double G&T when you finally get on board your ship. Contrast that with a short drive to your nearest port and a simple embarkation, and it’s a no-brainer (but you still get to enjoy that drink).

9... and relax

If you’ve booked a no-fly Mediterranean or Norwegian fjords cruise from the UK, your journey will typically begin with a day or so at sea.

And that’s a great way of starting your holiday because it gives you a chance to ‘decompress’ if you’ve been working hard before your cruise, as well as plenty of time to get yourself sorted in your cabin, explore the ship and try out your food and drinks options.

That way, when you step off the ship at your first port of call, you’re already chilled out and smiling.

10. The repositioning position

Like migratory birds, many of the big cruise ships head to Europe in spring, then back to the Caribbean or the Americas when the weather turns colder.

Lots of lines offer the chance to join these ‘repositioning’ cruises at Southampton, and although they aren’t strictly no-fly – unless you’re planning to emigrate – they can be sensational value (some lines even throw in your return flight too).

Your journey will be mostly sea days with few stops – possibly just one at Cape Verde or the Canaries – but if you love the big- ship experience, this is a great way to enjoy a relaxing holiday that chases the sun without breaking the budget.

Ships like Sky Princess offer no-fly voyages. Credit: Shutterstock

Five no-fly cruises to book today

1. Princess 7-night Culinary Cruise with France and Spain aboard Sky Princess, round trip from Southampton via St Peter Port, La Rochelle, Bilbao and La Coruña, departing September 16, 2023, from £1,049.

2. NCL 10-night France, Germany & Belgium cruise aboard Norwegian Getaway, round trip from Southampton via Bordeaux, Le Havre, Zeebrugge, Hamburg and Amsterdam, departing October 12, 2023, from £821.

3. Fred Olsen 7-night Scenic Summertime Norwegian Fjords cruise aboard Bolette, round trip from Newcastle via Eidfjord, Bergen and Geiranger, departing June 24, 2023, from £1,349.

4. Ambassador 17-night Canaries, Madeira & Morocco cruise aboard Ambience, round trip from Tilbury via Funchal, Tenerife, Las Palmas, Casablanca, Gibraltar and Lisbon, departing November 17, 2023, from £1,999.

5. Saga 6-night Cornish Coastlines and the Isles of Scilly cruise aboard Spirit of Adventure, round trip from Dover via Isles of Scilly, Falmouth, Fowey and Portland, departing August 28, 2023, from £1,969.

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About Vicky Mayer

Vicky began her career working on young women’s magazines before moving on to TV and entertainment titles. Her passion, though, has always been travel, so as Editor of World of Cruising, she combines her love of magazines with the chance to shout about cruise holidays around the world.