Cruising on rivers and seas is growing exponentially, especially among Senior Citizens, as the way to take a comfortable holiday.
River boats on the Danube
The number of cruise ships and routes grows each year as the number of people who want to do this as their regular form of holiday increases annually. We took our first 7 day cruise in December 2015 which was probably not the best way to start this wonderful form of holiday. It was up the coast of Norway in mid-Winter and where the North and Baltic seas met it became very rough causing some horrible sea sickness.
We didn’t give up the idea though and took a shorter cruise of just 5 days up the East Coast of South Africa to the Portuguese Islands and did not suffer any ill effects. Encouraged by this we did a 7 day river cruise in 2017 and this was wonderful making us brave enough to plan a long holiday with 2 cruises, 1 of 16 nights and the other 18 nights and we are pretty much hooked.
Why do people want to cruise? What makes it such a special way to holiday? While on our recent cruises I discovered that many people had been on multiple cruises – 30, 40 and even more. In fact there was one lady who was on her 101st!! They were clearly the ones to comment rather than ourselves who were on cruise nos. 4 and 5.
The Sinfonia which took us to the Portuguese Islands
These are some of the things that they highlighted:
- Boarding and unpacking just once for the duration of the trip
- All meals provided and housekeeping done
- Excellent accessibility and assistance for the disabled
- Regular and different forms of entertainment
- Selection of restaurants besides the main dining room
- Meet people from all over the world
- An opportunity to see places to which one would not normally visit while travelling in comfort
- Tours and excursions planned and organised but one can do individual activities if desired
- Gradual time changes when travelling East to West and vice versa
- Educational opportunities – the people, archeology, geology, economy etc of places visited
- All purchases on ship ID card with one final debit to your credit card but, as one passenger said, “this is when reality strikes”; no money changes hands during the cruise
- Well trained and friendly staff
- Usually a library, card room, puzzles and board games
- Wake up in the morning and see nothing but the sea
- Resting on deck with a good book – so relaxing
- Lots of passengers but no sense of overcrowding
- Points received for each cruise, based on the no. of days spent cruising; free laundry is the first ‘gift’ given to those who qualify
There are a few drawbacks but these are easily overcome if one is sensible:
- Everything is charged in US$ so if your home currency is at all weak against this costs rise quickly
- It is very easy to put on weight as food is available 24/7; eat sensibly but enjoy; we had an ice-cream cone after lunch each day but we also did plenty of walking
- It is also easy to spend freely on excursions and in the shops both on and off the ship
- Gratuities are not included in the booking cost but are a compulsory extra at $/pp/pd, varying for the different cruise lines eg our first cruise was $6.80/pp/pd whereas on the second it was double
- Sending items to the ship’s laundry is costly; we rinsed ours out each evening
- Wifi is very expensive, up to $25/day, depending on packages offered (free wifi is available at many ports of call)
- Using the clinic is costly so it is essential that one has sufficient insurance, especially older and/or people with disabilities
Health & Hygiene
When cruising hundreds of people are together within a confined space for a length of time and the possibility of illness is increased. The 2 most common forms of illness are the Noro virus, a severe form of Gastroenteritis, and Colds which may lead to Bronchitis, especially in older passengers.
To prevent the Noro Virus to the best of your ability is keeping hands clean and sanitized. The best way to do this, over and above thorough washing after using the bathroom, is to use the hand sanitizer which can be found in many places on the ship; as you board the ship, at the entrance to every eating facility and in a number of other public places. Use these EVERY time you pass one.
Common sense is the best way to prevent sharing your cold with other passengers. Cough and sneeze into a tissue, or you elbow if you don’t have one. Wash and sanitize your hands frequently and get treatment as soon as you feel that the cold is developing into something more serious.
Even with the few drawbacks cruising is a wonderful way to see the world and meet people so give it a try.
Cruise ships in Copenhagen Harbour. They keep increasing in size