Cruises can cater to many types of traveller, from those going solo, to families, couples, and groups of friends looking to holiday without their partners.
A cruise to suit you
To the uninitiated, cruising may appear like a pretty regimented way of seeing the world. If you've never tried it, you may even have created a typecast in your mind of what sort of person goes on a cruising holiday. And maybe you don't see yourself fitting the mould.
But rest assured, there's no such thing as a typical cruiser; people choose to cruise for all types of reasons, and thankfully there are cruises out there that cater to a wide variety of tastes and types.
Whether you're looking for a solo adventure, family holiday, romantic escape or a fun getaway with a group of friends, there's probably a cruise for you.
There are many reasons why people of all age groups choose to cruise alone. Perhaps it's the sense of independence of being free to float around by yourself (pun intended) – on board and ashore.
Or perhaps you've discovered it's a great way to meet new friends. And if you've been widowed, a solo cruise means you can still see the world, with the reassurance that you'll be looked after and all the details of your holiday, including accommodation, meals and activities have been taken care of.
Cruise lines have become better at catering for solo passengers in recent years, too. Larger ships operated by some cruise lines now include bars or areas exclusively for solo passengers. This means you'll probably have a higher chance of striking up friendships with other soloists if you choose to.
Some will even provide dance hosts: members of the crew to pair up with for after-dinner dancing, so solo cruisers don't feel left out when the music plays and everyone hits the floor.
Some solo cruisers, however, find more comfort in smaller ships. That's because there's a much lower risk of feeling lost in the crowd in such an intimate setting. Activity groups and excursions are generally smaller, and you'll inevitable run into the same faces over and over again on a small ship.
Related: Cruising solo with Saga
However, if anonymity is your modus operadi, you may prefer the solitude that bigger ships provide.
Whichever type of solo cruiser you are, it may be reassuring to know that many cruise lines no longer penalise solo cruisers with higher rates. You'll be able to enjoy the comfort of your own cabin, without paying an extortionate supplement.
Cruising for families
Anyone with kids will know how stressful planning and actually going on a holiday can be. What's meant to be a time for relaxation and adventure can often turn into a logistical mess, not least a maelstrom of tears and tantrums or outright taciturnity.
Which is why cruising is a salvation for many families; as soon as you're on board there's no more need to worry about getting from A to B, how far you have to travel for daily activities, where to eat and what to do with your time.
Some all-inclusive cruises will include family-oriented activities in the price, too. Which means you can worry less about budgeting on board.
It's worth bearing in mind, however, that family-friendly cruises will cater for your clan in different ways. Some may have better facilities for infants like wading pools and babysitting for children aged one and over, and others may be better at turning a reluctant teenager into a cruise convert, with den-like lounges, spa hang-out spots and dedicated cinemas.
And some may offer suites that are better designed to accommodate multigenerational families, which is worth knowing if you're cruising with your kids and their kids.
Some itineraries may be better suited to certain age groups than others, too. For instance, a seven year old will probably not be so keen on discovering the ancient architecture of Malta. Instead, some beachside fun in the Caribbean may be higher on the agenda.
So before you book a family cruise, make sure you do your research. Take a look at what's on offer, both onboard and off. With so much to choose from, there's bound to be a high-seas adventure that ticks the boxes for your entire team.
Cruising for couples
For many looking for the perfect honeymoon or romantic getaway, a cruise is the ultimate enchanting escape. And if you simply want to get away from your kids (or anyone else's for that matter), many lines operate kid-free cruises for that added air of serenity.
Things you may want to look out for, when it comes to booking your ideal couple cruise, may include whether you can book a room with a private balcony.
Lazy mornings with your loved one are made even more memorable when you can watch the sun rise slowly over the sea as you enjoy breakfast for two on your own private balcony.
Romantic getaways can feel even more special when you both feel preened and pampered. Which is why it may be worth checking out what on-board spa facilities are on offer.
And some cruise ships offer more in the way of private nooks and smaller venues, so you can nestle in and snuggle up away from the crowd.
Even if you're intent on spending your holiday joined at the hip, it may still be worth investigating what on-board activities are available – and whether they cater to both your tastes.
There's nothing wrong with taking part in workshops, talks or other activities separately. But you may even find that there are loads of things you'd love to do together, like cooking courses, wine tasting, dance lessons and sports.
Related: Discover over 50’s only cruises with Saga
Teaming up with other couples
If you're not looking for an entirely secluded romantic getaway with your loved one, but still want to enjoy each others' company, albeit amongst a group of fellow travellers, then you can always consider teaming up with other couples for a cruise holiday.
It may be a great way to catch up and spend time with friends you've not seen for a long time, but it's not without its potential pitfalls.
Before you set off on this type of holiday, you'll probably want to ascertain what everybody's expectations are about how much time to spend with each other and how independent each person can be in choosing on-board activities and excursions ashore.
For instance, if all you want to do is lounge by the pool on a particular day, you won't want to feel shunned for skipping the on-shore excursion.
Having said that, cruising with other couples can be less problematic than holidaying on terra firma. For instance, you won't have to hold a committee meeting every time you want to decide as a group where to eat. With limited (though no doubt exciting) dining options, this decision is made a lot easier.
Related: Activities to expect on a cruise
Cruising with friends
As much as you love your other half, it's sometimes fun to escape on holiday by yourself with friends. In which case, you may be looking for a ship that's got a great nightlife and good spa and salon facilities.
Sports can be a great way to bond with your friends, whether that's rock climbing, mini golf, basketball or ten-pin bowling.
And if you're looking at booking a cruise for a group of friends, and want your cabins as close together as possible, book as far in advance as possible, as cabins fill up quickly.
Whichever way you want to cruise, whether it's by yourself, with a partner or with others, the cruising world is your oyster. Starting searching now to find your finest high-seas escape.
Saga offer a range of cruises on-board their own ships and with other cruise lines including Fred. Olsen, Celebrity and Royal Caribbean.