My Travels: Alan Hughes - 'My hubby-to-be wants to get wed on a cruise!'
Cruise 2016 Special
TV Presenter, panto star and cruise fan Alan Hughes shares his tips for holidays at sea.
Why a cruise holiday?
I never thought I would love it as much as I do. My expectations were blown away and I've since been on about seven cruises, all with Royal Caribbean... You can go to sleep with one country outside your window and wake up in a totally different country. The entertainment is top notch and as a producer of extravagant pantos myself, I can say the standards are very high and the theatres are stunningly beautiful.
Aren't cruises just for older holidaymakers?
Of course I've heard this said before, and it's just not the case. I've been in crazy nightclubs and karaoke bars... ice-skating and seen full West End-style shows like Mamma Mia! and Chicago. You can even surf on board in wave pools. Kids running amok and having the time of their lives is a familiar sight.
In fact, my hubby-to-be, Karl, wants to get wed on a cruise, with about 40 guests. I just keep thinking I'll be so tired entertaining everyone for the week. But it's one idea we are considering!
What should I pack?
Sun lotion and nice swimwear, as lazing by the pool is so lovely on board. There are often outdoor Jacuzzis and a choice of pools. Getting dressed up for dinner is always fun too - so bring your glam rags.
Best time to cruise?
For me it's after panto season, in February. At the moment my day starts with Ireland AM from 7am, then two shows a day of Beauty & the Beast at The Tivoli. The idea of a cruise in February could really get me through it all. Lol!
What one thing do you like most about the holidays?
Exploring the ship. I think we all have that Titanic-romanticised view of ships. I've been on some cruises and not seen everything there is to see, because the ships are so huge and glamorous.
How do I know which cruise line is best for me?
I guess you could Google it and read reviews online, but I would highly recommend Royal Caribbean... it's like being in a beautiful floating hotel with so much to do.
Do you have to pay tips?
On Royal Caribbean you use no money. You have a credit card scenario, so you don't pay for anything on the spot. You are encouraged to tip your attendant a certain amount at the end of your voyage... and you do it on the credit card thingy.
What should I avoid?
Outside cabins are worth the extra splurge - so maybe avoid inside cabins if you can afford the extra few bob.
"Bring an evening gown. Cruise is a good opportunity for 'dressing for dinner'. No need for taxi home!" - Kay Leavy, Waterford
"Book attraction tickets in advance (for example the Colosseum in Rome or the Leaning Tower in Pisa). It will give you more time on a tight schedule." - Fiona Saunders
"Research ports and have a plan for days off ship; otherwise go with the flow and enjoy the best holiday ever!" - Eileen Fitzgerald, Cork