Ask an CLIA UK & Ireland Agent - Cruise Information

Please tick here if you are happy to have your details forwarded to a CLIA UK & Ireland accredited travel agent who may wish to contact you for further information about your enquiry.


Do you have a question about cruising that you would like answered by an expert?

CLIA UK & Ireland operates the official accreditation scheme that recognises those who have attained the highest level of training and this is your opportunity to put a question to a LIA UK & Ireland Master, an agent who has achieved the highest level of learning.

Ask a question using the form on the right and an expert will reply as soon as possible. Alternatively, the questions and answers below might help!

What is the best time to see the Northern Lights?

The best time to see the Northern Lights or Aurora Borealis to give it it's official name, I would say, is between January and March and this Winter 2012/13 is going to be a spectacular season with the expected solar storms forecast by NASA being arguably the best for 50 years!

Peter Ruck, General Manager
Baldwins Travel and Cruise
157 High Street Tonbridge Kent TN9 1BP

Tel: 01732 351223

Which cruise lines sail to Alaska?

There's a great choice of companies which offer cruise holidays to this stunning region, including:

  • Holland America (with 70% of permits to Glacier Bay)
  • Celebrity Cruises
  • Royal Caribbean International
  • Princess Cruises
  • Silversea Cruises (Luxury All Inclusive)
  • Regent Seven Seas (Luxury All Inclusive)
  • Crystal Cruises (Luxury All Inclusive)
  • Disney Cruise Lines
  • Carnival Cruise Lines

Brendan O'Connor, Cruise Development Manager (TTA - R9789)

Join us on Facebook for our latest offers!

T: 02890 799 775 - Direct Line (with messaging service)
M: 07817 406 234

Which ships have a crèche onboard?

Several cruise lines have crèche facilities including Cunard and Royal Caribbean.

However there is only one cruise line that has a creche that will take children from as young as 3 months old and that is Disney Cruise line. The "It's a Small World" nursery on Disney dream and Disney fantasy and "Flounders Reef" nursery on Disney Magic and Disney Wonder provides care for little ones from 3 months to 3 years. 

Chris Roberts

01243 374007 

Next May, we would like to cruise through the Panama Canal, to Mexico, hoping to see whales in the Baha Peninsula. We would also like to incorporate a trip to New York and Las Vegas. 

The Panama Canal is a fascinating cruise and a Balcony Stateroom would be required for this Special Voyage. I have completed the full transit through this canal many times when I worked for Cunard and Royal Caribbean Intl.

In May 2013 there are 6 possible voyages to consider.  However, to cut down on multiple flights there's the Crystal Symphony Voyage on 6th May from Los Angeles to New York. This is a 17 night voyage with the option of staying in Las Vegas for 3 nights prior to flying on to Los Angeles and joining the ship. After the voyage there's the option of staying in New York before flying back to London / U.K.

A less expensive option could perhaps be Holland America Line (1st May, Miami to San Diego on the M/S Amsterdam, 15 Nights) or Royal Caribbean (17th May, Miami to San Diego, Vision of the Seas, 15 Nights). Both voyages could be topped and tailed with hotels in New York and Las Vegas, however, multiple flights would be required. Both cruise lines are full board basis with drinks and gratuities extra.

In my opinion, the Crystal Cruises option is the better one, as the cruise line is now All Inclusive so it's easier to budget. I cannot promise there'll be whales, but they are prevalent in the Baja Peninsula region.

Brendan O'Connor
T: 028 9079 9775

What are the largest cruise ships that visit Istanbul and Israel and what is the best time to visit?

Celebrity Equinox and Celebrity Reflection (Celebrity Cruises) are among the largest ships calling into Istanbul, and do so throughout the year, so when you visit might well depend on how hot you want it to be. With regards to Israel, the Holy Land Cruises are usually around September to November, with the largest ships including Celebrity Silhouette (Celebrity Cruises), and Mariner of the Seas (Royal Caribbean International).

Ian Warren
Phone: 01455821770
Mobile: 07990751367

We are thinking of a European cruise next year, preferably travelling from a UK port. We need an informal cruise and something suitable for a 13 year old.

The most suitable cruise line would be Royal Carribbean who have UK departures for 2013. They offer many dining options and for kids great facilities such as Ice Rinks and climbing walls. MSC Cruises & P&O also have UK departures but can be a bit more on the formal side when dining. However you can find alternative dining options which enable you to dress down for dinner.

Sandra McNicholls
Travel The World2
T: 0161 870 7188 

I would like to surprise my husband with an expedition cruise for his 50th birthday, neither of us have cruised before and I am at a loss about where to start - please help!

What a fantastic birthday surprise.  You have such a variety of options we would need to learn a little bit more about you and your husband to help select the perfect expedition for you.  This really can be the trip of a lifetime, so it is your chance to identify your lifelong travel dreams so we can realise them.  You might want to consider a magical journey to the Arctic, in the hope of seeing polar bears, or maybe the Galapagos Islands with their amazing variety of wildlife (you can combine this with a trip to Peru to see Machu Picchu!)  Look at our website for inspiration!

Edwina Lonsdale and Jamie Loizou
Mundy Cruising
020 7734 4404

I am looking to book a Caribbean cruise for my parents (both in their 70's) for their 50th wedding anniversary. I would like to know a little more about which ship to look for and when is the best time to go?

This is a great idea for a 50th Anniversary as the Caribbean has an excellent atmosphere and there are some great places to visit on the various islands. The best time to cruise the Caribbean is November to March as it is out of the Tropical storm season and you will find fabulous temperatures of mid to high 80's. If you cruise from Florida please be aware that there will be a couple of days at sea to reach the islands,  however you can start from one of the  Islands (for example St Martin, Aruba or Barbados) and get more ports days. The cruises range from 7 to 14 nights. I think it is a shame to cruise the Caribbean and not have a personal balcony so you can enjoy the amazing Caribbean sunsets!

It is very important to select the right ship; these vary from gigantic mega ships with 3000-5000 passengers like P&O, Royal Caribbean, Princess Cruises and Celebrity Cruises to more intimate boutique style ship that hold just a few hundred, such as Regent Seven Seas, Seabourn, Silversea Cruises and Crystal Cruises.

The larger ships have many facilities like Rock Climbing Walls, Ice Rinks, Flow Rider (a surf simulator) and large West end style production shows, but they also have quite a small passenger space ratio and staff/ passenger ratio, so you may find you have to join large queues quite often and it is usually quite difficult to find a sunbed or seat in the show-lounge.

The smaller ships are quite the opposite, much larger passenger space ratio and crew/passenger ratio meaning you have more room and a much better attentive service - they also have a more inclusive price with things like drinks, tips, shuttles in to town, excursions and speciality restaurants included in the price. The ships are not geared towards kids clubs where the larger ones tend to have quite a few children on board. 

In between these two types of ship is one of my personal favourites - Oceania Cruises. They carry from 700 to 1200 passengers and the food is some of the best I have ever tasted. They have up to four speciality restaurants with amazing menus (all included in the fare); the ships are elegantly designed with a country club feel and are not crowded.

There are so many different cruise lines in this area that it would be better to speak to us and we can find out what sort of things are important to your parents when they take a holiday as I am sure I will be able to match them with the ship that is perfect for them.

We would like to go on a taster cruise this December, ideally from Southampton.  Which cruise lines may offer this?

P&O have a 2 night taster party cruise from and back to Southampton to Zeebrugge or the next one would be Cunard's Queen Victoria on the 13th December from and back to Southampton visiting Gothenberg, Copenhagen and Hamburg - so Christmas market type cruise.

Just prior to the 1st December, Fred Olsen have a 3 night taster to France on Braemar visiting Honfleur and Cherbourg from and back to Southampton again.

A lot depends on where they wish to visit and their budget. If they were looking for a fly / cruise then there are many, many alternative opportunities - the Caribbean, Mediterranean, Canaries etc

Peter Ruck
General Manager
Baldwins Travel and Cruise Tonbridge
Tel: 01732 351223

I am looking for a short cruise from Southampton for my elderly parents - which cruise lines with small ships sail from there?

Fred Olsen is probably the best cruise line to fit the criteria. They sail from Southampton & Portsmouth and with their small ships cater ideally for the more senior passengers.

I would suggest that the Balmoral & Braemar are slightly easier to get around than the Boudicca & Black Watch. I would also select a cabin near a lift which will reduce the amount of walking required. On the Braemar I would suggest Main Deck 4 and on the Balmoral again Main Deck 6 .

Fred Olsen they have 4 ships in their fleet and again are all small ships -  The Balmoral (1350 passengers) is based in Southampton all year round and the Boudicca (880 passengers) & Black Watch (804 passengers), Braemar (929 passengers) also sail fromSouthamptonat various times of the year.

Some examples of cruises available are:
Fred Olsen - Black Watch - 3 nights - 13th December 2012 - Southampton -Rouen overnight -Southampton

Fred Olsen - Braemar      - 3 nights  -   23rd November 2012 - Southampton,Cherbourg, Honfleur,Southampton

Fred Olsen also sail out of Portsmouth which may be worth considering and they have this cruise available

Fred Olsen - Boudicca    -  4 nights  - 16th December 2012  -Portsmouth,Cherbourg,Rouen overnight,Portsmouth

P&O do have the Adonia which is Adult only ship and carries 710 passengers but I have had a look at the sailings for 2012 & 2013 and the ships shortest cruise is 7 nights in August 2013, the remaining cruises for this year are fly cruises with the exception of a 16 night Christmas cruise. 

Roy Jones

Do cruises cater for people with mobility difficulties on and off the ship? 

Cruises are a fantastic way to holiday if you are less mobile or disabled as most are fully accessible and some offer accessible shore excursions. Different cruise lines vary in what they can or cannot offer however with the aid of a scooter or wheelchair you would have no barriers at all on the ship. Some cruise lines are able to offer accessible excursions that can accommodate people using their wheelchairs or scooters and again we can arrange this for you and advise on information prior to you booking your cruise as well as arrange full assistance in embarking and disembarking the ship.

Being a specialist in cruising for the disabled and less mobile we have all the information with regards to hiring a scoter or wheelchair plus other medical aids for cruising, also we hold and abundance of information on the accessibility of the ports of call and shore excursions and the accessibility of the ship itself.

Miss Frankie Batt
Accessible Travel & Leisure (Head Office)

Tel: 01452 729739
Fax: 01452 729853

We would like a cruise that goes to Venice but one where you don't have to wear suits for the evening.  

If you are happy to fly to the Mediterranean, then Norwegian Cruise Line (aka NCL) would be a good choice, as they operate Freestyle Cruising where 'smart casual' is the order of the day, every day. If you are looking to cruise from the UK, then cruise lines such as P&O and Celebrity do have a couple of formal nights a week, but also offer casual dining venues as an alternative for anyone who doesn't want to dress up formally. 

Ian Warren
Phone: 01455821770
Mobile: 07990751367

What is the best time of year to cruise the Rhine?

You are able to enjoy the Romance of the Rhine through all the seasons as each brings its own particular beauty including December for the great Christmas markets. Probably best to avoid January and February.

Roy & Margaret Jones


Help| Contact Us| Media| Privacy Policy & Cookie Information| Disclaimer| Site Map|

This site is provided by CLIA UK & Ireland – a non-profit making organization representing the UK Cruise Industry. Copyright © 2012. All rights reserved.