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Cruising on the Ocean
Ocean cruising can be the ideal holiday for many over 60s, whether they are in couples or travelling on their own. It can be very comforting to know that all your needs are likely to be looked after, such as keeping you comfortable, secure, well fed, and entertained without you having to do any more than decide what you want to do, and turn up for it! You need however to choose both the ship and the destinations carefully.
Many older passengers prefer peace and quiet. A family friendly ship, during school holidays, is likely to contain a lot of children, particularly if the cruise is a fairly short one, and if you prefer the company of your old age range you will be better looking to longer cruises, whilst the kids are at school. The passengers on world cruises are almost exclusively retired people; and whilst many of us have neither the wish nor the funds for a three-month jaunt it is usually possible to fly to and from the ships and join them for shorter stays of perhaps two weeks upwards. This gives you the opportunity to enjoy the atmosphere of a world cruise without the expenditure of both time and cash that the full circumnavigation would cost you. Do bear in mind however that those who are going all the way round, or at least halfway, usually get the first choice of both cabin and restaurant table, including the much sought after tables for two.
A large modern cruise ship can be extremely stable in even the roughest conditions, and can resemble a small city, with a well-equipped hospital, a gymnasium, at least one beauty salon/hairdresser, numerous shops and restaurants, a large theatre, and possibly both a concert hall and a cinema too. It will also have a lot of passengers; from around 2000 right up to the 6800 capacity of Royal Caribbean's Symphony of the Seas! The economies of scale make it possible for the operators of these ships to offer far lower prices than would otherwise be possible, and the range of activities can be vast. However there are disadvantages too:
1) Disembarkation at ports of call can be a problem. It is very difficult for most ports to handle several thousand people arriving at one time; particularly if there are other ships arriving on the same day.
2) Large ships usually require purpose made berths. These can sometimes mean that they are tied up in a container port, where the view from the ship is not terribly inspiring for those who choose to stay on board.
3) Many ports simply cannot accommodate these large ships, and so the choice of itinerary is narrowed considerably.
Smaller ships are more intimate, meaning that you can usually get to know your fellow passengers more easily. They are able to dock in the smaller ports, which means that you can not only enjoyed a larger choice of destinations, but you can usually get closer to any inland attractions that you wish to visit, thus cutting down on the matter of time you have to spend travelling to and from then on a coach. Some of the smaller ships are much more individual in design than the larger ones, with lots of polished brass and teak decking; and it is often much easier to chat to the ship's officers than would be the case on the larger ones. It is little wonder that many passengers start to feel part of a family, and revisit these more intimate ships time and again.
Because of their lower number of passengers some of these small ships are ideally suited to theme cruises for those passengers who have a particular interest in, say, music, history, wildlife, etc.
On the minus side a cabin can be smaller, or cost more, that it's equivalent on the larger ships; and they are not usually as stable as their larger brethren. This is not necessarily a problem however if you pick your date and destination properly; whilst you might not want to sail on one in the Atlantic in February, the Mediterranean in August could be a different matter entirely.
A multi-masted tall ship is a magnificent sight when under sail, and a holiday or one can offer you an experience close to that of a private yacht. Although sailors have used wind power for many hundreds of years most of these ships belong firmly in the 21st-century, with every modern convenience and, often, they offer a superb dining experience and first-class service. If you are the more adventurous type of traveller and prefer the more relaxed atmosphere of a bygone age this kind of holiday may be perfect for you. Informality is often the rule and you may even find yourself helping with pulling on ropes or even taking the tiller!
On the downside; passageways tend to be narrow, there can be a lot of steps to negotiate and, particularly whilst under sail, the ship can heel over somewhat so those whose mobility is impaired or whose fitness is less than perfect may find this a less than perfect experience. Overall; it's best to have some prior experience on the water before stepping up to a tall ship.
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