The top five benefits of a no-fly cruise from the UK
No-fly cruises from the UK are tipped to become one of the biggest travel trends of 2021.
With many loyal cruisers left on the rocks this year due to COVID-19, no-fly cruises look safer and easier than ever before — no crowded airports, no stressful connections, and, best of all, no risk of cancelled flights.
Even better, there's no need to compromise on the experience. The Mediterranean, the Canaries, and even the Caribbean are easily accessible from our shores, as well as destinations as far flung as Australia, the Arctic, and South America. Regional departures make it easy to sail from any corner of the UK, and a vast array of cruise lines mean you can travel at any level of luxury.
No-fly cruises cut the travel drama, and get you straight to the fun bit
The main advantage of cruising from the UK is getting rid of all the moving parts. You're far more likely to start your holiday happy if there's only one thing to concentrate on, and no need to worry about flight delays or cancellations.
Also, let's not forget that even in back in the "old days", air travel sucked. As well as sidestepping anxieties around COVID-19, no-fly cruises ditch the tedium of baggage carousels and boarding passes, getting you straight to the ship with minimal complications. Once you're onboard, everything is included from the get go, meaning you can swap the soggy meal deal in the airport for something far more civilized. Fancy a coffee and a cake by the ocean, or a (perhaps rather bracing) pre-departure dip in the swimming pool? Totally possible with a no-fly cruise.
We're pretty lucky here in the UK — most of us are within 100 miles of a cruise port
The British Isles have always been a natural starting point for navigating the seas, and there are convenient cruise ports in all regions. Scots can depart from Leith (Edinburgh) or Greenock (Glasgow); Northerners have Newcastle, Liverpool, and Hull; the Irish can sail from Belfast, a city rich with maritime heritage; while Southerners can choose between Plymouth, Portsmouth, Tilbury, and the UK's busiest cruise port, Southampton.
Sailing from a UK port is not only more convenient, but can also be surprisingly picturesque, as you'll see your local region from a whole new angle. Some boutique cruise lines like Silversea and Azamara have special permissions to embark from Tower Bridge — setting sail down the Thames, with the London skyline glimmering in the water, is a once-in-a-lifetime experience.
There's no need to compromise on destination, as no-fly cruises sail all around the world
Many sunseekers escape the British winter with a no-fly cruise to the Med or the Canaries. Norwegian fjords cruises are also really popular, as you can reach the shores of Norway in less than 48 hours. And it's easier than you might imagine to go much further afield: transatlantic crossings to New York, Boston, and Quebec operate regularly, and take around a week, coast-to-coast. Baltics cruises take you right through to St Petersburg, where you'll usually spend a night or two in port. Cruisers can explore the city on shore excursions without a Russian visa, meaning there's no need for nail-biting embassy trips or extra expenses.
You might also consider a no-fly round-the-world cruise. Lots of ships sail right round the globe from Southampton on an annual basis — you can book your preferred portion of the cruise with a one-way flight home, or go for the entire epic round-trip voyage if you have a retirement lump sum to blow.
No-fly cruises are easier for families with young kids, older travellers, and those with limited mobility
Not looking forward to chasing your three-year-old round an airport lounge? No-fly cruising might be the answer. The boarding process is far simpler on a cruise ship, and more flexible baggage allowances mean you can bring whatever home comforts you like.
The same goes for older travellers, or those with reduced mobility, who'll benefit from the relatively fuss-free boarding process and disability-friendly public areas. Swapping an airport for a cruise ship means there's never a struggle to find a lift and there's always a steward close by for help. In many respects, no-fly cruising is far more accessible, and opens up the world for those who aren't able to fly.
Are no-fly cruises a more sustainable way to cruise?
This is perhaps a controversial note to finish up on. Very few forms of cruising could in good conscience be called sustainable, but cutting out air travel certainly can't hurt. The cruise industry as a whole has committed to reducing carbon dioxide emissions by almost half by 2030, and some ships are pioneers in terms of developing environmentally-friendly technology. Hurtigruten's MS Roald Amundsen is a hybrid ship specially designed to run on renewable energy, and sometimes departs from UK ports, including Glasgow, Liverpool, and Portsmouth.
You might also consider a river cruise.