It’s a notion as tired and cliched as the people that it claims to portray. The myth that cruising as a holiday form is solely for the ‘newly wed and the nearly dead’. When you look at the fabulous floating theme parks that roam the seventy plus per cent of our planet that is actually composed of water, then that half baked old splutterance becomes not so much old hat, as platinum chip prehistoric.
The recent, growing trend for outdoor beach and night clubs on ships is damned near perfect for the warmer waters of the Caribbean and the summertime Mediterranean. Sound and light systems on a hi-tech par with anything found on South Beach or Ibiza feed a constant, feel good vibe. You can samba or salsa around those upper deck swimming pools from dusk till dawn if you have the stamina these days, or you can grab some fresh baked pizza at four in the morning before you finally call it a night.
Any way you slice it, cruising is now a global groove, played out from the endless summer nights of Norway to the sparkling, sunlit seascapes of the Far East. There is a ship that is hip for every style and taste these days.
Other on board diversions unfold like a series of drum rolls. There are rock climbing walls, flow riders and vast, expansive water parks designed to keep kids of all ages in clover. Some ships even have Formula One rally simulators. And why would you simply walk from one floor to another, when you can actually zip line between levels on some ships?
You can go ten pin bowling, or browse online to your heart’s content as your ships slides between a swathe of stunning, sunlit Greek island idylls, before maybe indulging in a spot of bracing quad bike racing ashore. This is most definitely not the style of cruising that granny once embraced, that’s for sure.
Dress codes, too, have largely devolved into a more egalitarian ‘whatever suits your mood’ kind of style. Tuxes are more like museum artefacts on some ships these days. The days when grim faced officers tottered around the dance floor while in the grip of some diamond encrusted old dowager only exist today on TV shows like Downton Abbey.
Restaurant choices on board have mushroomed, with many ships now offering in excess of twenty different kinds of eateries, though admittedly many of these come with a small supplemental charge. You can sample a truly global spread of tastes, with everything from classic French to Asian Fusion, by way of Moroccan and even Mongolian. And, where and when you eat is, for the most part, entirely down to you. Plus, most ships will not expect you to wear a jacket at dinner these days, let alone a tie.
Many ships have late night, R-rated comedy shows that would have been unthinkable even a decade or so ago. There are lavish, vastly ambitious Vegas style shows in huge, multi level theatres. Casinos as large as a Zeppelin hangar routinely hum, whirr and click through until the small hours of the morning. And you can take in almost any kind of music genre that suits your whim, from classical to cool jazz, big band to retro disco.
Accommodation choices are vast, with cabins ideal for families that cover the range from comfortable inside rooms to huge, sprawling multi room apartments that come complete with expansive private terraces. And singles can choose chic, cheerful single rooms on some lines these days. Children’s clubs and teen dens will keep the younger ones entranced and entertained from dawn till dusk, and even later if required.
Fitness facilities are pretty much state of the art, with vast, expansive spas and bang on trend gymnasiums replete with every modern torture device known to man. Those spas are airy, opulent complexes, with tiled, heated recliners and hydrotherapy pools that elevate relaxation to a level of seriously sublime self indulgence. Or take it outside and you’ll find pools, hot tubs and casual snacking venues galore.
So yes, while cruising may well still be a nostalgic ocean of memories for some (and there’s nothing wrong or wrong headed with that), it’s also true that today’s modern ships are as hip and highly styled as any upmarket resort hotel ashore. And, in terms of sheer inclusiveness and scope of choice, they represent incomparably better value.