‘Isn’t cruising for old people?’
I get asked the same question every time I mention that I’m going on a cruise during the holidays. The concept is considered outdated, stagnant, and unappealing to the current generation of younger people, who can’t fathom why someone would choose staying on a ship for two weeks with supposedly next to nothing to do, than go on a beach or activity holiday. Well, don’t knock it until you’ve tried it!
The obvious appeal of cruising in my eyes is the endless opportunities of where you can visit. On my last cruise, I went to Corfu, Santorini, Cephalonia, Ancona, Kotor, and Venice. Six cities, three countries, seven days. Granted, you have less opportunity to fully explore the destinations you visit, but on the flip side you avoid holidaying somewhere which looked fantastic in the brochure, but in reality has a building site to the left and an 18-30s resort to the right, both of which were conveniently cut out of the pictures. Instead, you can enjoy a taster of a plethora of different countries and cultures, all the while cementing in your mind which destinations you would potentially return to.
As for the cruise ships themselves; the idea that they are old fashioned, slow and uncomfortable is an archaic one. The cruise liners of today are luxury vessels, with swimming pools, gyms and restaurants to rival any upmarket, modern hotel. The ultra-new ones even boast cinemas, ice rinks, bowling alleys, nightclubs and surfing facilities, which you would be hard pushed to find all in one place on your average beach/city getaway!
Take the most recent addition to the Royal Caribbean International fleet: The Allure of the Seas, at 360 metres in length, deemed to be ‘the world’s largest and most revolutionary cruise ship’. Encompassing her own miniature recreation of New York’s Central Park and a typical American boardwalk, four large swimming pools for both adults and children, a state-of-the-art fitness centre and spa, a casino, two theatres (one aquatic!) , a climbing wall, a zip wire, and seven (yes, seven!) restaurants including one which physically moves through the ships levels providing you with a constantly changing view as you have dinner; this ship certainly deserves her tagline of ‘revolutionary’.
And it’s not only the entertainment facilities which aim to impress, the luxurious staterooms which provide accommodation for passengers are of the highest quality. Forget the antiquated images of twin beds nestled amongst unsightly patterned curtains and carpets in a dingy room with no windows; aboard all modern cruise ships you have a wide choice of cabin, en suite bathrooms come as standard, with a daily maid service and TV, all housed among plush furnishings, chic décor and soft lighting.
On Allure however, it is obvious the designers have gone one step further in their aspiration of creating the most lavish space possible for their guests, with even the most affordable of staterooms having an extra, je ne sais quoi element about them. But on the ever-so-slightly more pricey side of things, Allure’s flagship cabins would have to be their Royal Loft Suites, which measure an unimaginable 1524 square feet, and include accommodation for eight guests, a library, an entertainment centre, a Jacuzzi, and two dining areas, one of which is al fresco.
The truth is cruise ships of today aren’t just oversized floating hotels purely for the use of transport; these vessels are an experience. You can eat in a different themed restaurant every day of the week if you wish; Chinese one day, Indian or Mediterranean the next. You can choose whether you want to rock climb, or ice skate, or both. You can choose which cities you want to see, and which ones you’d rather give a miss and relax by the pool.
Choice, after all, is the basis of the whole idea.