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Eating on a cruise ship

The choice of cruise ships is quite endless these days. They come small, medium-sized, large and very large, sometimes cruising oceans, other times cruising rivers. How do you choose the right one for you?

The answer is simple – take the opportunity to visit a ship in port for the day and have a good look around!

You can inspect the cabins and staterooms, check out the pools, spas and theatres as well as enjoy a delicious meal in one of the ship’s restaurants. If you have any questions about accessibility, this is a great chance to get the answers.

A team of experienced staff will be there to assist, and you can also find out more about where the ship will be cruising to in the future and whether there are any itineraries which are of interest to you.

Then you’ll have all the information to make an informed decision of whether the ship meets your requirements for a full cruise in the future.

Where to go for a visit?

There are many ports around the UK that play host to cruise ships. More than you might think in fact. Southampton is, of course, a famous port that is home to many cruise lines and you can certainly visit several ships there. Harwich, Greenock near Glasgow, Newcastle, Dover and London Tilbury are all on the list too.

When to go on board?

Ship visits are available mainly in the summer months, although Cruise & Maritime Voyages also provide rather special festive experiences during December.

You could get into the Christmas spirit with a ship’s tour, splendid dinner and enjoy the fun of a show afterwards, as well as an optional overnight stay. You’ll never leave port but you can still get a genuine taste of cruising. Holland America Line offer visits in May, June and September so you can plan for voyages over the winter or the following year.

What does a visit consist of?

A typical ship visit will start around 9.30 to 10am with a welcome introduction and a cup of tea or coffee, before going on board for a tour. This may be guided or self-guided and you will get an opportunity to explore the cabins, the public areas and generally get a good feel for the atmosphere and facilities on board. There may also be a presentation in one of the theatres.

An early lunch is served usually around 12 noon, which typically consists of 4 courses with wine. It’s a special affair and a wonderful chance to sample the cuisine and the on-board service from an attentive team of waiters. There may then be the chance to ask questions or perhaps to see a show before disembarking in the mid-afternoon.

How much does it cost?

For a very reasonable £10, you can enjoy lunch and a tour on one of Holland America Line’s ships, refundable should you go on to book a cruise. MSC Cruises offers ship visits for around £20, and Cunard offers a fabulous experience for £50. Cruise & Maritime Voyages visits cost around £49 (including entertainment), with an overnight stay option costing £79.

MSC Cruises ship

Interested? Here’s what to do next

Visit Silver Travel Advisor for information about the current ship visits that are on offer as well as details of how to book and the costs. You can also contact if you need any further information.

Silver Travel Advisor also hosts its own visits from time to time with the next one on 16 September in Southampton on board the MSC Splendida. Find out more

So why not give it a try – a try before you buy? And perhaps a day on board in port will whet your appetite for the real thing!

Further information

For more information: Call Age UK Advice: 0800 678 1174