The call of the cruise

Updated: 13 Jun 2023

Thinking about booking a cruise holiday but unsure about what to expect? We asked Oddfellows member and experienced passenger, Wendy Atkins, to give us the lowdown on the magic of cruising.

Headshot of a smiling Wendy Atkins
Our wonderful Wendy Atkins, Ipswich member and host of all Oddfellows Travel cruises

About Wendy

Wendy Atkins started cruising with her husband Paul in 2000 and they’ve never looked back. An experienced traveller, she accompanies all Oddfellows Travel cruise holidays as our friendly host. 

The cruising basics

How many cruises have you been on, Wendy?

Almost too many to count! We started for our 25th wedding anniversary in 2000 and celebrated our 45th in 2020 (although not on a cruise!). Fred. Olsen is our preferred cruise line but we have sailed with P&O, Princess, and on a transatlantic voyage on Queen Mary 2.

What first attracted you to cruising?

My husband’s dream was to go to Alaska when he retired. I wasn’t sure if I wanted to go all that way and not like it, so took a short five nights into Europe as a taster – there was no looking back and we tried out slightly longer ones until I’d built up my confidence to face Alaska in 2007.

What do you recommend for a first cruise holiday?

If you’re nervous, always try a short cruise first. If you’d rather go with a group then you’ll find experienced travellers can help you with the most basic questions.

What’s been your favourite cruise so far?

That’s a really hard one to answer. We loved Greenland. Norway's scenery is spectacular, but I guess getting to the Falklands was the most memorable.

Some people worry they’ll go a bit stir-crazy on board – what’s your experience?

Always check the itinerary for the number of sea days. If you’re concerned about too much sailing, then choose one which has a port of call every day (or almost).

However, there’s so much to do on board to keep you occupied, we love sea days – ukulele classes, choir, dancing classes, arts and crafts. Guest speakers and plenty of nightlife entertainment. Deck games of all sorts – golf and shuffleboard, as well as table tennis, cards, jigsaws and Wii games too. If you want to keep fit there’s the gym, swimming pool and the Spa. Of course there’s plenty of eating and drinking too. If you prefer to sit in a quiet corner there are plenty of them. You can also catch up on your reading or do a puzzle book, or start a conversation with a fellow passenger.

In terms of money – are most cruises all-inclusive? What about tipping?

Check out offers at the time of booking. Usually Fred. Olsen has an optional drinks package available but at sale times that’s included. Tipping is advised at £10pppn but again that’s included if booking at the right time! Spending on board is cashless. You register your debit/credit card at embarkation and spending is by the swipe of your security key card.

Greenland and Iceland CruiseEnjoying an excursion on a recent Greenland and Iceland cruise

Dining on board

If you're travelling alone, will you be placed at a table with other solo travellers?

There are tables available for single travellers, and informal coffee mornings so you can pal up with others for going ashore. Or you could join us on one of our Oddfellows cruises!

We've heard passengers really dress up for dinner – is that the case?

Many cruise lines still operate “formal evenings” and it’s the chance to put on your glad rags! Dinner jackets aren’t compulsory for the men. Ladies like a sparkly top!

How do you get invited on to the Captain’s Table?

I’m not sure – we’ve never been invited but we have been joined by other Officers.

If you've specific dietary requirements, will they be catered for?

Dietary requirements are no problem. Choosing your meals ahead will ensure you have the right food. The buffets always have well-labelled dishes.

The Norwegian FjordsJoin Wendy on a cruise to the Norwegian Fjords in August

Health and wellbeing

Are you likely to get seasick?

The million-dollar question which I can’t answer. If you are prone to travel sickness then be prepared with standard medicines, wrist bands and ginger. We have experienced seasickness in the past and we retire to bed and sleep through it. Drink water. If you miss a meal then use the cabin-service when you feel better.

Are cruises suitable for people who walk with or use a mobility aid?

There are limited adapted cabins on ships to accommodate wheelchairs or mobility scooters. It’s essential you say at the time of booking and book early to get the best available.

Are cruise ships a breeding ground for Covid-19?

Any confined space will spread any infection. We went on a “sea-cation” in August 2021 to regain our confidence in the industry. We were bowled over by the care taken with cleaning and sanitising. The buffets were all served at the counter (not self-service). We wore masks while walking around inside the ship.

About Oddfellows Travel

Oddfellows Travel hosts several holidays for members and accompanying family and friends every year. More details can be found here.

All Oddfellows members are entitled to exclusive Fred. Olsen discounts* and a complimentary group drinks reception (subject to minimum numbers) on board.

Wendy will be hosting a week-long cruise to the Norwegian fjords in August this year.

*T&Cs apply. For discounts provided by a third party, please check their individual terms and conditions.