A case for cruise control

I always thought cruising was for old people, so naturally I was never interested, not being old. And never will be. It’s only other people who are old such as, well, older people.

We did go on the QE2 to New York many years ago, back in 1976, American bicentenary year. I remember the year because on board some dignitary was carrying a copy of Magna Carta to go on a display somewhere.

It was awful. The weather was appalling, I got seasick, the kids got seasick, it was like being in prison: cooped up, nowhere to walk. The joke swimming pool on deck was closed because the waves on it were about as high as the real ones. Yes, the food was great, which meant you just stuffed your face. And felt worse.

The only good part was arriving – passing the Statue of Liberty, seeing the NY skyline at dawn. But come on, all that way for one view. So afterwards I said never again. The best part of sailing is looking at the ships – not actually being on them.

But, you know how it is, with age, dodgy knees, awful airports, carting luggage, all the faff of modern travel, hanging around, endless delays.

It struck me that the biggest attraction of cruising is that you get to see different countries, different places, without having to pack. You also don’t have to hang around airports, railway stations, car hire places. That stuff is done for you.

So I thought I would give it a go and over the last two years I have been on four cruises. The arriving at each place was better than I had imagined. With a bit of luck, and depending on the cruise you pick, you land in a different place every day. (That QE2 was not a cruise, as such, but an Atlantic crossing, so there was only one arrival.)

Waking up, finding yourself no longer at sea, but slowly gliding into a new harbour, sliding into a new culture, was so exciting.

On my first cruise, with Silversea, the places we visited included Muscat in Oman and Bandar Abbas in Iran. I would never ever have visited Iran, but for that cruise. In every port, I went on a conducted tour, and they were excellent, if a bit exhausting. On board, the food and service and cabins were terrific, as they should have been, as I have only ever been on five-star cruises.

But while at sea, especially two whole days at sea, each time I did get very bored. It became claustrophobic, my body felt lumpen, my stomach felt too full. Yes, there are lots of diversions, attractions, endless shows, but all laughably old-fashioned, dated, inoffensively mass-market.

Most people love cruises, with many notching up four a year. The cruise industry is enormously popular, still growing, offering great food and service and value for money. But I think I prefer a holiday on land, able to feel free. ?So, I don’t plan to go again. Not till I’m really old…

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