Cruise Ships are Not just for Old Crooners
It’s been a few years since I last set foot on a cruise ship in my early twenties. But it’s an experience etched in my memory for the sheer buzz that only waking up in a different port of call every morning can bring. Whilst a cruise may scream geriatric, glittery over-sized gowns (tent-like enough to dance the night away with The Captain and co after a week of stuffing your face at the all-you-can-eat-buffet) and ‘ger ’em off the stage performers, better suited to Britain’s Got Talent; one thing’s for sure, cruises are BIG business and very much here to stay.
And what better time to try one out than when you are young (at heart), zestful and full of energy?
The kids can even come too…
Yes, it’s time to tell you what a cruise is REALLY like.
While there’s no denying it that ships voyaging the seven seas, and all of the planet’s oceans in-between, are largely made up of a slightly older clientele (which stands to reason when they have probably retired, are treating themselves to their life’s savings if this is a round the world trip…), increasingly, more and more young couples, families, teens and solo travellers are opting to test out their sea legs for a true taste of adventure. And why not?
Value for money.
The two Mediterranean cruises that I went on a few years back, were an amazing way of seeing not only several countries, but islands too, for more or less the price of a ‘land holiday’ in the same location!
In more ways than one, a cruise vacation is a no-brainer if you adore ticking places, sights and sounds off your wish list. They are also a great way of getting a taste of a destination, a little insight or introduction before committing to spending your whole holiday there on a future trip.
So what exactly will you get for your money?
If cruising is a brand new concept to you (and it’s amazing the number of parents my age who are chatting animatedly about the idea of going on one for the first time with their offspring in tow!), then what you can expect goes a little something like this:
Well d’uh, you could have told me that! But obviously there are various types starting from the basic inside cabin and going all the way up to the penthouse suite. You’ll hardly spend any time in them… unless you’re on honeymoon and they’re stocked with champagne. There is simply way too much to do! But the fact that such a broad range exists truly does make a cruise viable for everyone. Not just those who’ve hit the lottery jackpot.
– All you can eat.
Look away now if you are one who despises witnessing queues and hoards of weebles waiting for their grub. I know, I know. I am Miss Pollyanna, I shouldn’t be saying such a thing – and I too, adore my food. But there is a limit! Sometimes those on a cruise simply don’t know when to stop. Just because your ship provides breakfast, elevenses, lunch, afternoon tea, dinner and a Midnight Buffet, doesn’t mean you have to indulge in a three course meal at all sittings – or even that you need to attend all sittings. Remember, sometimes less is more and it is nice to come home from your holiday having gained just a few pounds as opposed to several stones. Still, it IS good to know that all this amazing (and amazing it absolutely is) food is flowing pretty much 24/7.
-A vast array of activities
From kids clubs to workshops, comedy to zip wire action, aqua aerobics to rock climbing (on a wall, of course!), and even ice skating, theatre shows, all-you-can-eat-ice-cream events, art auctions (yes, really!), saunas and fitness centres – some cruise ships are so self-contained with fun and games that you may not even feel like getting off to explore Rome, Barbados or the Alaskan wilderness! Some companies of course will charge an additional extra for some of these types of activities. But not Royal Carribean International, who include much of the above in their all-inclusive programme.
-Unlimited tea/coffee and soft drinks
This is usually also par for the course. If you are after exotic cocktails, spirits, mixers, champers, beer and wine, well, naturally these do involve slightly larger overheads, so you can expect to pay pretty much going rate prices. And if it’s a fancy Baileys Floater or a Caffe Latte Deluxe, naturally, you will have to get your wallet out. But all in all, unless you are staying in an all-inclusive resort hotel, you have to concede, there aren’t many accommodations around the world offering quite this much!
-A daily newsletter…
This is often posted under the door to your cabin the evening before so you can plan (or not!) at your leisure as far as tomorrow’s shenanigans are concerned. These include updated snippets about the weather in the upcoming destination, interesting maritime information (for the geeks among your party) and a few historical/sightseeing facts.
-Waking up to a completely unique vista every morning.
Even if that vista is part of the day at sea stage of your journey. If you are lucky enough to bag yourself an outside cabin with at least a porthole, part of the wonder of your trip will indeed be gazing at new and unfamiliar or previously familiar lands; the distinct way the Andalucian light frames the Rock of Gibraltar and its halo of cloud, the milling of the port workers in Sardinia, or the hustle and bustle of Nassau in The Bahamas…
And if you don’t have a window, well, simply head to the outer decks. If you are lucky you might catch a magical pod of dolphins playfully jumping in and out of the water alongside your ship as I was once lucky enough to. That had to be the highlight of the entire trip for me.
Okay, so what’s the rub? What’s not included?
Well, the answer to that is normally just the excursions (okay… and the finances to buy chips in the casino, your general spending money, plus beauty treatments in the ship’s salon – oh and any souvenirs from the cruise gift shop). Which stands to reason, all of the above goodies considered!
Not to forget the wonderful services of every member of staff on board the liner – from cleaners to chefs to waiters to the captain and navigational crew, plus everyone else besides. For the price you are paying you really are getting a lot thrown into the deal.
On the other hand, perhaps you’ve already visited Barcelona? In which case when 95% of your fellow guests disembark, you can enjoy having the ship’s amenities mostly to yourself!
Inviting itinerary aside, many are those who simply never set foot on land during their week on a floating hotel. Lest we forget, many people’s idea of a hol is complete and utter R&R…
Not to be battling it out for seats on the coach!
They’ve already done that once at the airport… Yes, not to put too fine a point on it, when it comes to the slightly Older Dears and the daily cruise coach excursion, boy oh boy, you’ve gotta be super quick to get your preferred seat, or at the very least have your beach towel in an aerodynamic sausage shape ready to hurl down the aisle for the much coveted window seat of the chairs with the extra leg room by the emergency exit. ‘Cos some of these ladies and gents have had years of practise when it comes to elbow barging, tutting and frowning their way in absolute panic-mode to rest their derrieres. And that’s even before they’ve climbed up the Leaning Tower of Pisa!
It’s enough to make you vow never to disembark the ship.
That said, a quick stiff Brandy after breakfast and you’ll soon get into the swing of it with the best of them. It is, truth be known, the biggest downside to any cruising holiday. But much like Newton’s law of gravity, there’s really sod all you can do about it except smile sweetly as you practise your mindfulness skills.
So there you have it. And perhaps I have convinced you to try something new?
A cruise is more than a holiday; it’s a journey, an adventure, a taste of the exotic, luxury on an endlessly fascinating scale, a foodies’ paradise, a history-laden, entertainment-fueled, fun-filled week… or two… or three… or heck, even a year riding the waves of, well, life on our beautiful planet Earth!
Does that sound Old Hat to you…?