A well provisioned ship with impressive modern facilities is certainly important when selecting a cruise line, but it’s not all about dining at the Captain’s table or rolling the dice at the casino. Many of a cruise holiday’s best perks are the small things on the other side of the railings.

Holidays on the high seas are full of the promise of new experience and adventure. And while there is a certain degree of planning involved, it’s those spontaneous moments (combined with a bit of luck) that can create the most incredible memories of a holiday that stay with you long after the vessel has docked and the passengers disembarked.

sunset

Sunsets

For the many who regularly holiday on cruise ships, those unforgettable sunsets somewhere on a foreign ocean provide the lasting memories. There’s nothing better than a romantic stroll on board the ship before dinner to start off the evening perfectly and with cruise lines like P&O Cruises offering itineraries to destinations like Australia, the Caribbean or the entire Mediterranean, holidaymakers are sure to come up trumps. The crisp clean sea breezes and the vivid vibrant colors come together perfectly, leaving their indelible mark on your soul. If you’re cruising in Scandinavia high above the Arctic Circle, there’s even more time with that golden orb in the sky, as there’s extended day length to midnight and beyond depending on how far north you venture. The unpolluted night sky is another one of the many highlights of a cruise, and as there’s little light pollution, there’s always the chance to observe many a constellation.

Wildlife

Wildlife

Many tour operators organize specific wildlife watching cruises with on-board guides to tell help with identification; but for the amateur, the thrill of spotting a pod of dolphins or watching a graceful seabird fills one with the wonder and excitement of a child. The very fact that cruise ships bob around on a floating viewing platform in some of the richest habitat for wildlife on Earth, will enthuse any nature lover. For those who really want to delve a little further it would be a good idea to either research expected species online or purchase a good field guide before departure.

Skylines

Skylines

Cruising offers passengers the chance to see dramatic landscapes and far flung cities from a different perspective so you’ll end up enjoying them in a whole new way. Approaching ports from the water also enables tourists to appreciate the distance and scale that an ocean voyage allows, as that speck on the horizon slowly gets bigger and bigger. With its brooding volcanoes and jagged island chains, destinations like Iceland offer the freedom to experience an entire landscape from the comfort of the deck.

People

Enjoying the people

And of course it’s the people that make or break a trip, but with absolutely no pressure on you to decide on the next leg of the journey or where to dine each night, the only overriding feelings should be positive ones as you relax and enjoy the company of companions and strangers alike. Cruise holidays inevitably end with passengers making new friends and maybe even scheduling the next voyage together.

Cruise holidays are a magical way to travel. Even the sternest sceptics can’t fail to be moved by the sight of a sun sinking behind the horizon, a whale breaching alongside the ship or a foreign port of call transforming from a spec of land to a vibrant all-consuming cultural cacophony. If those don’t provide lasting memories, nothing will!

Images by Neil Howard, Sue Hixson, bass_nroll and Scott Smith used under creative commons license.