With so many cruise lines currently available today, it comes as no surprise that the majority of British cruisers have been converted to cruising aboard US-style cruise ships, with their larger than life ships. How do the British companies such as Cruise & Maritime and Thomson Cruises compare?
Cruise and Maritime
Cruise and Maritime offer lower fares on their 800 passenger ships, Marco Polo and Ocean Countess. They only offer cruises that sail from the UK which makes them a popular choice for those who do not like to fly, and sail from six ports; London, Hull, Newcastle, Edinburgh, Glasgow and Liverpool. They do not boast the glitz and glam of the larger ships, with no climbing walls or Broadway style shows, but what they do have which is a key difference is a home-from-home atmosphere and the emphasis is very much on a personal service and going that extra mile for you. Due to their smaller size their ships can slip into smaller and more remote ports of call, which they larger vessels cannot reach, making them a firm favourite with those experienced cruisers who are looking for something a little different than the typical cruise.
Both of their ships tend to avoid the Mediterranean which is heavily dominated by larger cruise lines. Instead they tend to focus on cruising to the fjords, Iceland, France, Spain, North Cape, Portugal or around the British Isles. During the festive season, Cruise and Maritime can be found sailing to the Christmas markets in Europe and longer voyages around far out destinations such as the Amazon and West Indies.
Thomson is currently the second largest UK-operated cruise line, carrying a whopping 280,000 passengers a year. Unlike the foreign cruise lines, they don’t continuously buy newer ships, instead they focus their money on the ships they already have, which means better on board dining and entertainment, and is quite probably a reason why they win awards such as ‘UK’s favourite affordable cruise line’. They have four ships in the fleet, the Thomson Dream, Destiny, Celebration and Spirit and in the summer their ships mainly sail around the Mediterranean to British favourites such as Majorca, Turkey and Corfu. In the winter the ships tend to focus their itineraries on the Caribbean, the canaries and the Red Sea. Thomson has also introduced a test drive cruise to encourage more British cruisers. If you are staying with Thomson at one of their hotel resorts such as Palma and Majorca then you can now take a tour on their ship and see if you like the idea of cruising. They are also offering special deals for those that want to book the cruise, to entice more and more people to sail on a Thomson ship.
Quite like Cruise and Maritime, Fred Olsen boasts that warm and welcoming home-from-home atmosphere that the Brits love. They offer traditional cruising upon their fleet of four; the Balmoral, Braemar, Boudicca and Black Watch. Their key selling point is that they sail directly from the UK, so can set sail from Portsmouth, Southampton, Falmouth, Greenock, Holyhead, Leith and Liverpool and they offer worldwide itineraries to places such as South America, Singapore and South Africa.