Friday, 23 July 2010 12:00 AM
Cruise holidays have changed dramatically over the last decade or so and, although awareness of the numerous benefits has increased in recent years, many people still discredit sea travel due to a number of myths which may have been true historically but certainly don't exist in modern day cruising. Misconceptions of cruise holidays include opinions that it is boring, stuffy and formal, only for senior citizens and will guarantee weight gain for all passengers just from stepping onboard the ship!
There is more chance that a cruise holiday will exhaust you than be boring! Cruise ships offer such a wide range of activities - both during the day and at night, there is little chance that you will even have time to fit in everything you would like to do. Add to this the huge selection of shore experiences on offer, new ports of call in different countries to explore and an array of entertainment to watch, it is guaranteed that the one thing a cruise holiday won't be is boring. Cruise ships are so jaw-droppingly innovative, battling to bring to life the next biggest and best features that passengers will be amazed by all the options on offer. Onboard surf parks, rock climbing walls, ice skating rinks, water slide parks, carousels, open air theatres and cinemas, golf courses, full sized sports courts, ten pin bowling alleys, scaletrix tracks, zip lines; the list is endless and grows bigger with every new ship launch as cruise lines design their vessels to delight and amaze. Fully equipped gyms and comprehensive exercise class programmes help passengers improve or maintain fitness levels whilst onboard, although relaxing and pampering is also encouraged with luxurious spas, pools, hot tubs and a plethora of quiet areas to indulge in some down time. Throughout the day there are jam packed entertainment programmes for guests who want to participate in a whole range of activities from bingo and bridge, to dance classes and wine tasting, sports competitions and lectures from experts in various subjects including cultural, historical and geographical enrichment classes.
Few cruise liners now insist on formal dress for dinner in the main restaurant, and although periodic formal nights are scheduled on most cruises, there are always alternative dining venues and, if cruisers really don't want a formal element, there are cruise lines who don't have any black tie evenings at all.
Staterooms can rarely be described as claustrophobic, and if it is a genuine concern, ensure you have a larger cabin, and maybe a balcony and check the square footage with your cruise specialist before you confirm your booking. With so much to see and do onboard and ashore, little time will be spent in your room anyway, apart from to sleep, and today's cruise ships are literally floating resorts, with at least eight or nine decks, innumerable public areas to enjoy and lots of wide open spaces. Passengers will not feel 'trapped' onboard either as most cruise itineraries feature overnight sailing when you are asleep, and all day in port, so you can get on and off the ship at your own leisure. If you don't want to spend much time onboard then avoid itineraries with many sea days.
Cruise holidays are enjoyed by everyone, all ages, and from all walks of life. You'll find families, couples, singles, seniors, families and college-age passengers, young honeymooners, adventurers and explorers and the average age of passengers is constantly dropping, in the Caribbean to around 37 years last year. Cruise holidays are no longer reserved only for the older generation but to be enjoyed by everyone.
Sea travel will always come with the risk of sea sickness and even in the docile waters of the Caribbean it is possible to encounter inclement weather when you will indeed feel motion. Cruise ships will however, redirect to calmer waters if the weather is particularly bad and they do feature the most up to date stabilizers which will cushion much of the movement. As a precautionary measure, if you are concerned about seasickness, don't let it put you off a cruise holiday but book a cabin in the middle of the ship where motion is felt least and take supplies of seasickness remedies as there are some brilliant medicines available that genuinely work.
A further concern for some potential cruisers is that they will be stuck eating with passengers they don't know. If you don't like the thought of meeting new people and making new friendships you can request your own table at the time of booking and the ship will do everything possible to accommodate you. Alternatively, there are always numerous other dining options so it is unlikely you will eat at the same place for every meal anyway!
Finally, it is not the case that all passengers gain weight on a cruise holiday. You are just as likely to gain weight on a land based holiday, and few hotels offer the wide selection of healthy options, fitness facilities and active entertainment as a cruise ship, making it enjoyable to keep trim, and the pounds off, without feeling like you're denying yourself at all.