2. For those in search of five-star luxury, this seven-night Seabourn cruise around the French and Italian Rivieras is ideal for a first taste of cruising. The intimate 450-passenger Seabourn Sojourn, on which all rooms are suites and endless Champagne, plus other alcoholic and soft drinks, is included in the price, will be sailing from Barcelona to Civitavecchia (the port for Rome) on April 13, visiting the millionaire haunts of Monte Carlo, Portofino and Portoferraio to visit the Royal Palace, learn pesto-making and wine-tasting. (seabourn.com).
From £2149 per person.
See telegraph.co.uk/sojourn1 or call 0800 107 1215.
3. Thomson Cruises' 1,506-passenger Thomson Dream provides an excellent bridge between land-based resorts and holidays at sea. There's a 24-hour buffet if you want to be casual and a waiter-service restaurant for something more formal. By cruising roundtrip from Palma on Thomson Dream, you can also hedge your bets and combine the holiday at sea with a few days in one of Thomson's land-based resorts. The seven-night cruises visit Corsica, Italy, France and Spain and run between May 5 and September 1. (thomson.co.uk/cruises).
From £729 per person.
4. A transatlantic cruise from Southampton to New York on Cunard Cruises' Queen Mary 2 is the ultimate introduction to traditional cruising. Expect a big ship - the vessel holds 2,620 passengers - and four formal nights, with black tie and cocktail dresses expected, during the seven-night cruises, which operate between April and December. There are no stops on the way but onboard lecturers and a planetarium help to pass the time at sea. Add a few days in New York at the end to see Central Park, the Metropolitan Museum of Art and the Statue of Liberty. (cunard.co.uk).
From £599 per person.
5.Carnival Cruise Lines' 3,960-passenger Carnival Breeze is perfect for first-timers who want all the fun of a land-based resort with the added benefit of visiting lots of places without having to pack and unpack. On board there are super-fast water slides, a ropes course with swinging beams and tightropes, multiple bars and restaurants, and clubs for kids and teens; the 12-night voyage, roundtrip from Barcelona departing October 25, visits Monte Carlo, Naples for trips to Pompeii, Livorno for wine-tasting in Tuscany, and Venice for a tour of Verona. (carnivalcruise.co.uk).
From £819 per person. Book before March 31, 2012 and receive $200 on-board credit per cabin.
6.With no set dining times, no dress codes and multiple restaurants, Norwegian Cruise Line ships (ncl.co.uk) are perfect for first-timers who want a casual holiday at sea. By picking the 2,402-passenger Norwegian Jade's seven-night cruises from Venice to the Greek Isles, operating from April to October, cruise virgins hit the cruising jackpot, not only experiencing one of the world's best sail-aways, gliding past iconic St Mark's Square, but doing it again when they return at the end of the holiday. Ports visited include Corfu, Santorini, Mykonos and Katakolon, with volcano hiking and a trip to Olympia among excursions.
From £799 per person, including flights from Manchester.
7.If you're not sure about spending a week on a cruise ship, compromise with Royal Caribbean International's five-night mini-break from Barcelona, available in late April and throughout May, on the 3,634-passenger family-friendly Liberty of the Seas (royalcaribbean.co.uk). With everything from a surf simulator and rock-climbing wall to all-action kids and teen clubs, no one will want to get off, but if you can prize yourselves away there's star-gazing in Cannes, wine-tasting in Tuscany and tours of the Vatican in Rome.
From £459 per person.
8.Fred Olsen Cruise Lines' nine-night round-Britain and Ireland voyage from Dover on Black Watch on June 11 is ideal for older cruise newcomers - think 65-plus - who fancy a traditional small ship with Britons on board and none of the hassle of flying. The ship has a a great observation lounge (The Observatory) and is one of few ships to feature a cinema. You'll also get a glimpse of the UK as well - Dublin, for a trip to the Guinness brewery, Belfast for the Giant's Causeway, and Kirkwall, to visit Scotland's most northerly whisky distillery.(fredolsencruises.com).
From £1,049 per person plus £100 on-board credit per cabin or free transport options.
9.Princess Cruises' seven-night Eastern Caribbean cruise from Fort Lauderdale in the Florida is a first-timers' favourite, visiting lively St Maarten, St Thomas and Grand Turk, and spending a day at Princess Cays, the line's private island in the Bahamas. This cruise, on the 3,080-passenger Ruby Princess between October 28 and April 28 2013, is all about fun in the sun, with snorkelling at Princess Cays, dune buggy rides in Grand Turk and the chance to race an America's Cup yacht in St Maarten among possible activities. (princess.com).
From £1,319 per person.
10. Sailing from Dover, so there’s no need to fly, Saga Cruises’ seven-night Summertime in the Fjords voyage on Saga Sapphire on September 4 is a classic first-timers’ cruise to Norway, combining scenery, walks and fjord boat trips in Bergen, Geiranger, Ålesund and Stavanger with a sample of life at sea. Exclusively for over-50s (but partners aged over 40 are welcome), the 706-passenger Saga Sapphire, joining Saga at the end of March after a multi-million-dollar makeover, offers relaxed British cruising with open dining and a comedy club named in honour of Tommy Cooper.
For latest deals, see sagacruises.co.uk