If you’re heading to an expensive destination, it may pay to take a cruise. Tim Jepson explains more
A cruise is not only a wonderful experience but can also save you money. With sterling buying less abroad, you may think twice before holidaying in destinations such as Norway and Iceland, but when compared to the costs of independent travel, a cruise that (with a few exceptions) includes meals and maybe drinks and excursions too, can seem excellent value. A recent cost of living survey by Numbeo, which tracks the prices of around fifty items in 121 countries, from food to leisure activities, found that Bermuda has the steepest costs, followed by Switzerland and Iceland. Here are ways in which cruising in the Nordic countries can make visiting more affordable.
Iceland is not only expensive, but about to become mor so as the krona soars and the nation looks to limit what it seens an an unsustainable rise in visitor numbers (up from 490,000 in 2010 to an estimated 2.3 million this year) with an increase in hotel taxes and other costs.
The cheapest non-hostel accommodation I could find in Iceland for September was £59, and a return flight with Wow around £110. A main course in a restaurant will set you back £35 and a beer £10.
A cruise ship is cheaper across the board. Cruise & Maritime Voyages offers an eleven-night ‘Land of Ice and Fire’ voyage (also visiting Ireland and the Faroe Islands), departing in May 2018, from £802 per person. That’s £73 per night- or what you’d spend on fewer than three meals ashore.
A fourteen-night cruise with P&O in June 2018 from Southampton, also visiting Norway and Dublin, costs from £1,549 per person (£111 per day).
The Norwegians were voted the world’s happiest people in a poll earlier this year; the country also came fourth in a Numbeo survey. A stay in a hostel can cost £45 a night, and reckon on £25 for a main-course meal. Whether you cruise from the UK or fly (typically to Bergen) to join your ship, a cruise will save you money compared to land-based travel.
Norwegian operator Hurtigruten offers a twelve-day ‘Classic Round Voyage’ (departures year-round) from Bergen to Kirkenes and back- 2,875 miles of peerless coastal scenery- at prices from £947 per person (£79 a day), excluding flights. A three-hour fjord cruise from Bergen costs around £51.
Stockholm is high on most travel wish lists, with its archipelago considered one of Europe’s most beautiful bodies of water. But with a night in the mid-range Rival, one of Telegraph Travel‘s recommended Stockholm hotels, costing form £138, and a meal in a mid-range restaurant from £35 to £50 per head, it’s not a cheap city-break option.
Cruising affords a view of the archipelago from the ideal vantage point (the sea), and ships moor within easy reach of the city. Better still, it offers additional scenic diversions, like the Swedish fjords, and other ports of call.
A round-trip cruise from Edinburgh with Fred Olsen departing on 25th September 2018 costs from £1,399 per person. This includes more than two full days in Stockholm, scenic cruising in the archipelago and fjords, and port calls at Gothenburg, Malmö and Visby.
The Baltic Cities
Construct a city-based itinerary visiting, say, Copenhagen, Helsinki, Oslo, Tallinn and St Petersburg, and a return flight alone to St Petersburg in September costs from around £450 on average. Yet sign up for the twelve-night ‘Northern Delights’ cruise from Southampton with Royal Caribbean and you can visit these cities and more for as little as £959 per person in June 2018. That’s £91 per night- little more than twice the potential airfare to one city- and if you consider the £92 quoted by Numbeo as the price of a meal for two in a mid-range Copenhagen restaurant, a Baltic cruise begins to look very good value indeed.
Tim Jepson is a travel writer for The Telegraph