Our new Contributing Editor Julie Peasgood reveals her passion for cruise holidays…

Julie Peasgood on OceaniaI was 40 when I went on my first cruise and it was love at first sail-away. I admit I had reservations about the idea initially, my husband Patrick and I both wondered if we’d get seasick or have the right gear – it was the QE2 after all, a grand old lady of the seas. But the Stugeron remained untouched, our finery fitted the bill, and it remains one of our best ever trips.

Since then my enthusiasm for cruises has grown, and as an onboard speaker, Travel Channel presenter and travel writer, I’ve now been on over thirty of them. I feel so fortunate to have seen parts of the world that were just a distant dream in my stamp album when I was a kid. I’ve heard fascinating fellow speakers, eaten Michelin star-worthy food, sampled sensational wines, and walked miles around various decks in my quest to lose a few inches, so I can manage the statutory five courses at dinner.

My daughter, Kate, is now addicted to cruises too. She had huge reservations as she was only 20 when she first joined me on a P&O cruise, but once she realised they served jelly every lunchtime, and that Shane (the Pilates and yoga teacher) was a dead ringer for Brad Pitt, there was no stopping her. She became firm friends with Doris, 60 years her senior, and her favourite spot (when she wasn’t competing in the karaoke or at tapdancing class with me) was at the back of the ship, baking in the sun with her book and a cocktail.

So why don’t my friends share my love for life on the ocean wave? Why do they have this misconception that they’re not old enough for cruises or would get cabin fever being cooped up? The age range on cruises varies, and  competitive pricing has now attracted a younger element, which is great. And I have never ever felt claustrophobic onboard – in fact I love days at sea, because there’s so much to do. When people ask if I get bored, I tell them it’s the opposite problem: how do I fit in line-dancing, learning to tango, improving my photography, listening to a talk about reflexology and making a bead bracelet – all in one day?

My favourite cruises include gliding down the Rhone with Viking Neptune, visiting Burma with Voyages to Antiquity, Iceland with Saga Sapphire, the Med with the Royal Clipper and the Baltic with Fred.Olsen – and my favourite ships are the luxurious Oceania Marina and Regent Seven Seas Voyager.

And now I have even more to look forward to, as I shall be reviewing cruises for Cruise International, which I’m thrilled about. First up is a trip to Scotland on the Queen’s favourite cruise ship, Hebridean Princess, and I can’t wait.

Don’t think I’ll be topping up the tan on this one, but I’ll certainly be sailing in style…