Cruising Holidays not just for the grey nomads

MORE than one million Aussies took a cruise holiday in 2014 according to the Cruise Lines International Association Australasia. This shows that cruising is being embraced by more than just the grey nomads. From adventurous expeditions to food and wine indulgence, there's never been a better time to set sail with a host of new cruise liners and itineraries.

Cruising is a great way to stretch your dollar and discover several exotic destinations on one holiday in one convenient package.

And an all-inclusive price means cruisers can save hundreds on the total cost of a holiday.

The experts at Flight Centre have compiled an overview of some of the most exciting cruises.

Closer to home

More and more cruise liners will soon call Australia home. Arriving in November, P&O's new ships Pacific Aria and Pacific Eden will be welcomed at a special event in Sydney on November 25 with all five P&O ships converging on the harbour.

Special features on the ships include two pool decks, a waterfront restaurant, revamped rooms and a new grazing station called The Pantry to replace the traditional buffet concept.

Pacific Aria and Pacific Eden will sail from all mainland Australian states on itineraries along the Australian coastline with a new cruise departing from Cairns, as well as cruises to New Zealand and the South Pacific.

Royal Caribbean International will also base its Legend of the Seas cruise ship in Brisbane for the 2015/16 summer cruise season and the billion-dollar mega-liner Ovation of the Seas will call Australia home from December 2016, making it the biggest ship ever based here.

Themed cruises

For those who want a little extra, there's the new trend of themed cruises. There are cruises with guest culinary stars such as Luke Mangan and wine connoisseurs on board to share their expert knowledge with passengers.

Music-themed cruises will have passengers dancing the night away to the sounds of a live orchestra and taking swing lessons. There are also Christmas and New Year's Eve cruises, where passengers can welcome the new year in the Caribbean or closer to home in Sydney.

River cruising

River cruising is particularly popular right now; a segment of the cruise market where luxuriously appointed ships are smaller for a more boutique, intimate experience. River cruises allow travellers to get up close and personal to cities as itineraries often include several shore excursions.

Russia, Myanmar and the Mekong are tipped as "the ones to watch" for river cruising in 2015 and beyond.

Expedition cruises

Travellers looking for adventure are setting sail on expedition cruises to get closer to the action. Think Antarctica, the Kimberley, the Amazon, Galapagos Islands and Arctic Norway.

In recent years, expedition cruise bookings have grown in size and Flight Centre predicts this trend will increase with the most popular choices to be the Kimberley, Norway and Galapagos Islands.

Expedition cruise vessels are often smaller to allow access to more remote destinations and go without the glitz, glamour and nightly entertainment of a typical cruise holiday.

They are dedicated to helping passengers learn all about the history and culture of the destinations they're visiting.

An overnight docking might involve spotting wildlife at dawn on the water's edge or a visit into remote Papua New Guinean territory to see a local tribe perform a traditional ceremony.

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