As a bit of a cruise geek I was pleased to see The Cruise Show was coming to Manchester and it seemed a good opportunity to alleviate my post cruise blues and inspire some future holiday ideas. I picked up buy one get one free tickets via last minute.com at a bargain £6 for the pair.
A few days ahead of the show we looked at the exhibitor list online and were disappointed to see none of the major cruise lines would be present. I’d expected and hoped the likes of Royal Caribbean, Carnival, MSC and P&O might be at the show but sadly this wasn’t the case. Undeterred we decided to make the best of it and at £3 each I guess we couldn’t complain.
We drove into the city, parked up and made our way to Manchester Central the old railway station previously known as GMEX. On arrival we quickly realised that the show wasn’t in the whole of the main hall but instead in a smaller partitioned space at the rear of the building. As I handed in our ticket printout I noticed the on the door price was £10 per adult which made me thankful I’d booked in advance.
The exhibition was quiet although we were there as the doors opened at 10am so maybe it got busier as the day progressed. There were a number of talks by some of the exhibitors scheduled throughout the day in a small seated area but we didn’t actually stay for them.
The whole show had less than 30 exhibition stands of which at least six were of no relevance to cruising whatsoever such as The Cats Protection League, someone selling shoe insoles and a handbag stall! The remainder were predominantly river cruise lines or those aimed at the older market like Fred Olsen and Saga and 6 star cruising such as Silversea. The only family friendly cruise line present was Thomson so it was disappointing to see the other major players absent although most are exhibiting in Birmingham and London.
On a positive note I did like the look of Star Clippers old style sailing ships and I visited the Viking River Cruises stand as their itineraries are definitely of interest too. I was keen to find out if river cruising was suitable for families but a friendly member of the Viking team explained that they weren’t geared for younger kids and children under 13 aren’t actually permitted on board. Maybe it’s an option we’ll sample in a few years when our boy’s older…
We walked around the exhibition in about 15 minutes and left unimpressed and uninspired. I suspect the bigger London and Birmingham shows are far more worthwhile but the Manchester experience was a disappointment. We made the best of the day with some retail therapy and a spot of lunch in the city but I guess I’ll be doing my cruise research online in future ; )
The Manchester Cruise Show took place on Saturday 13 & Sunday 14 September and exhibitors included Ama Waterways, Avalon Cruises, Emerald Waterways, Fred Olsen, Hapagg-Lloyd, Hurtigrutern, Oceania, Regent Seven Seas, Silversea, Saga, Star Clippers, The River Cruise Line, Thomson and Viking River Cruises.
It really should have been called the River Cruise Show!