Friday, 14 March 2014


 When not working, which is more often that not, I spend time deciding where to travel next and to be true most of my efforts in recent past have been limited to finding the next cruise vacation. When most travellers would agree that there exists no such thing as a wholesome family holiday with the scales almost always tipping to one side, with you getting your decade's quota of popcorn in one Disneyland theme park visit or your kids finding themselves in the lap of an 'as strange as foreign' babysitter while you try to make a rush for that hip nightclub; the cruise lover in me would beg to differ. Pick a good reputed cruise liner and sit back to enjoy the loony, the noisy, the sultry, the seductive; from hip and happening to laid back and chillaxed experience of the Travelling Hotel, as I prefer to call it.

No hassle of working the luggage from place to place, no worry of arranging local transfers, a new destination each day and thrilling activities to keep the night young; throw in a selection of land excursions, onboard activities, extensive menu and endless shopping oppurtunities- the perfect recipe for a blockbuster holiday is for you to savour!!

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                               Most cruise liners nowadays give you great offers and believe you me, if you have the time to visit the online site every other day, the deals are a steal, especially a month or so before the cruise dates, prices also vary according to the cruising dates. Me and my husband, now that we consider ourselves no less than cruise pros ( just 4-5 cruise voyages young) , even choose our cruise destination as per the bargain offered ; bartering our Scandinavian dream for an Alaskan adventure if the 'situation' so demands, for, once you have delved deep in the life and style of a cruiser, there is no looking back and shifting the destination seems no big a compromise. From rooms with a view,dramatic public spaces, custom crafted accents, and an effusive welcome all over the place to gigs, art auctions, scintillating performances, deep blue pools, jacuzzi and lounges and lavish buffet spread; you are spoilt for choice.

All the elements of a blissful holiday come together in perfect symphony; the atmosphere, the romance; days spent sauntering through the exotic locales the cruise docks at, evenings spent on dock sipping a drink as sunset scatters languid, lemony light over the bay and finally, unwinding under starry nights or maybe, if you are a night owl- in a swank bar onboard with melody and martinis filling you up. Life is a beach when you choose to cruise, dawdling around ancient civilizations,bizzare skyscrapers, serene islands and rustic countryside;phones off the hook,  going caving, snorkelling, getting up close to sea creatures, riding cheap trams and HOHO buses to your heart's content, ogling at vintage collectibles at chic stores or just getting a taste of local cuisine and craft and clicking numerous selfies before returning to the thrilling exciting flamboyant life of stellar casinos, swank bars and crazy parties onboard.

You can take a pick from the exotic Greek odysseys, Spanish escapes, crazy Caribbean beaches, exotic Norwegian Fjords, Magnificent Alaskan glaciers to spectacular Scottish destinations; nowadays there are Hobby Cruises on the platter too, what with an exclusive Knitting cruise, Exploring Nova for the self confessed geeks and intellectuals and a Culinary Wine and Delights cruise for the foodie in you. A cruise ship is not just another mode of transport , its another life, another world - A dream world which leaves that unique flavour of content contrasting with the lingering greed for another taste.

P.S. While cruise is a great way to take a holiday, combining a land tour with it seems a better option. We mostly take 2-3 days extra at the port of disembarkation and sometimes a stretch at the hop destination if the flight is via a new country. Some of the countries are better covered by cruise, like Greece while others like Spain would need a more exhaustive itinerary.

'Cruise Tours', which are a combination of land stays and cruise customised by the cruise companies, are a waste of time and money and totally avoidable while Shore excursions which are optional should be purchased once onboard. Sometimes you get a better deal onboard, at other times you discover that the shore excursion you opted for is meaningless or maybe not interesting enough. Then there could be those who would find other ways and means to explore the destinations in a cheaper and more personalised way.

Cruise life is big and extravagant but talk about the cabins.....your bath back home could well be bigger than the entire stateroom. So consider this. as you have to spend the rest of the week or two in structures similar to portacabins( ok! that's bit of an overstretching of facts but umm!). I suggest take a short 2-3 day sampler cruise before you get more adventurous and embark on a longer voyage.

At times the ship doesn't dock at the shore but is tendered, they take you to land by tender boats which is quite acceptable, though, the days when the docking shore is way away from the main city and they charge a mandatory transfer fee for that- that's when the whining starts and rightly so.

Packing light is not an option; one because you can't and second because there are formal evenings and 'Portrait Days' where you need to strut your stuff. So from crazy beach wear, breezy lounge wear to elegant evening dresses - you need them all. Don't forget  bold accessories, heirloom jewellery( champagne art auctions and you wanna go in Tees, huh!!), sandals and the works. All I can suggest is to pack nothing much for the poor husband, he is poor anyways!!. They have Tuxedos on rent but ask the rent and you can live in Hawaii for a year with that kind of money.

Before booking your next cruise trip, do a thorough research because the recent reports of Norovirus outbreak in 3 cruise liners do disturb a little. The problem though, has been only reported from the Caribbean circuit.