Cruising has come a long way

The booming cruise segment of the travel industry shows no sign of slowing down, even surviving the efforts of the truly horrendous movie Speed 2. Catering to virtually all age groups with a wide variety of packages and activities, the cruise lines are attracting a whole new generation of customers, with a new emphasis on the younger segment of the fifty-plus market.

A friend (who’s just shy of 50) recently returned from a Caribbean cruise which he pronounced “absolutely fabulous”. This from a man whose usual holidays involve self-directed tours of offbeat, “non-tourist” destinations.

Cruise liners are now being compared to entire resorts rather than hotels, offering a wealth of on-board activities that keep many passengers away from the port tours. The current “world’s largest cruise ship” is the Princess line’s Grand Princess, which offers three showroom lounges, 18 decks, and a virtual reality entertainment centre in its 951 foot length. For those who prefer their reality to be real, the ship thoughtfully provides an on-board wedding chapel.

Not to be outdone, Royal Caribbean is launching an updated Voyager Of The Seas late this fall. Along with e usual amenities, the “ship” will feature an ice-skating rink (for homesick Canadians, no doubt) roller blading, rock climbing, and a promenade with a daily parade.