New Wave Cruising
With stocked cellars, scuba diving and fun for families, cruising is no longer for the well bred and nearly dead. Jane Archer shares 10 things you probably didn't know about cruising
The Hotspot: Myanmar
The Caribbean is a favorite for its sun, sea and sand, but why not try cruising’s newer passages: Head into Northern Europe with Celebrity Cruises and see picturesque fjords, stunning Scandinavian cities and majestic St Petersburg from the sea. Choose a small-ship cruise to Antarctica and you’ll walk among the penguins, or board a Regent Seven Seas cruise to Myanmar and be one of the first to visit cruising’s emerging hot spot.
It's Honeymoon Heaven
The big ships are amazing; self-contained cities at sea with glitzy decor and a zillion restaurants, but for more style and romance at sea, there are ways to downsize. Windstar and Star Clippers have dreamy yachts with canvas billowing in the wind; Variety and SeaDream have intimate yachts that nip in and out of small bays away from the crowds; and Regent and Seabourn have luxe vessels where service is second to none and drinks and speciality dining.
You'll Ditch the Deck Chair
Thought a cruise holiday was all about doing nothing? Think again. The newest ships from Norwegian Cruise Line have fearsome water slides and ropes courses with swinging planks and nets. Royal Caribbean ships have zip-wires and ice-skating rinks, and one Disney Cruises ship even has a water coaster. Not scary enough? How about walking the plank on Norwegian’s new Norwegian Breakaway — literally a plank that extends eight feet over the side of the ship.
Get Botox On Board
Massages, facials and mud wraps are so yesterday’s spa scene. On almost every new cruise ship you can discover the point of acupuncture (said to stop smoking, headaches, allergies and stress) and lose the lines and wrinkles with botox injections under the care of a qualified doctor.
Sommeliers Come Standard
Reckon you know your Chateaux Plonk from your Cabernet Sauvignon? The crème de la crème cruise lines — the likes of Crystal, Seabourn and SeaDream Yacht Club — are seventh heaven for oenephiles. You’ll find wine-themed cruises with world-class sommeliers on board, as well as wine tasting classes and land excursions to the best wineries.
Foodies are Fans
Celeb chefs including sushi king Nobu Matsuhisa (on Crystal ships) and Britain’s fiery Marco Pierre-White (on P&O ships) are on board with shaking up cruising cuisine. Expect three or four dining options on the newest ships, and everything from a Chinese noodle bar to a Mexican diner and a Brazilian steakhouse on Royal and Norwegian Cruise ships.
You'll Go Overboard
Activities are no longer confined to the decks and the day trips. Some of Windstar’s smaller ships have water sport platforms, so you can kayak, windsurf, sail and even water-ski from the back of the ship. If it all sounds too much like hard work, may we tempt you with Seabourn’s Champagne and Caviar service in the surf. It’s the ultimate indulgence.
Kids Love Cruising
Children have a ball at sea, with kids’ clubs and teen hangouts offering scavenger hunts, pizza or pirate parties and discos for youngsters aged from three to 17. It’s safe and a great way to make friends, discover new places and, on Princess Cruises’ ships in Alaska, even learn a bit about the environment.
Black Tie is Optional
Time was when evenings on cruise ships meant tuxedos for him and cocktail dresses for her, but not any more. A couple of lines cling on to the fancy dress evenings, but most cruise lines have moved with the times and on Variety Cruises, Windstar and Norwegian, smart casual or downright casual will do just fine.
Picnics on a real-grass lawn, a glass of wine in Central Park and a private cabana by the pool… no you haven’t gone ashore. These are some of the cool new features on today’s resort-style cruise ships. Celebrity Cruises’ Solstice-class ships make a splash with lawn parties and sky lounges, Princess ships have peaceful adult-only areas and giant poolside movie screens, while Cunard’s Queen Mary 2 even has a planetarium so you can star gaze both indoors and out.