Cruising is becoming more and more popular with the over sixties and it is not difficult to see why. It can provide a good mixture of adventure and relaxation as well as a chance to make new friends and try new activities.
My first taste of life on a boat was a PGL holiday on a Dutch barge over forty years ago. We had bread and cheese for two meals a day and after the hot water heating failed we had to use the showers at the railway stations. (This was a long time ago and I am sure PGL holidays have improved since.) However what I chiefly remember from that holiday was having the chance to watch ordinary people going about their business and the interesting small museums and quirky towns we were able to visit.
My experience of cruising after 60
After I married I always resisted the suggestion of a cruise holiday. I felt I would get bored too easily and have cabin fever after a couple of days. I also wondered if I would have the right clothes and social skills to fit in.
Things changed a few years ago when we saw an advert in the Radio Times for a coach trip from Bristol to the Dutch bulb fields which included a few days on a Dutch barge. The fact that the boat was called the Lady Anne helped clinch the deal. I found we enjoyed slow travel. We could get up when we wanted and go to bed when we felt tired. If we wanted to be sociable there was always someone to talk to, if we wanted a few hours to ourselves we could read a book in our cabin.
I was still not sure if we would enjoy an ocean cruise. Our next adventure was a Cruise around the British Isles with CMV cruises aboard the Marco Polo sailing from Bristol. I had always wanted to visit the Scottish Isles and I figured that we were not far from land. Still cautious I booked walking tours at several ports. After a few days I discovered why so many retired people love cruising. The Marco Polo was an adult only ship and most of the passengers were over 60. The ship itself has an interesting history being a former Soviet luxury liner. The food was excellent and you could have as much or as little as you wanted. I loved being able to attend lectures about the ports we would be visiting and it was good to know that tours would be well organised and at our pace.
When we became empty nesters we decided we would like to see something of North America and for several years took coach tours up the East Coast of the U.S.A. and into Canada. We loved it but it often meant a long haul flight at each end and several very early starts while fighting jet lag.
Advantages of cruising
We still have a sense of adventure but lack the necessary stamina to enjoy long haul coach tours. I also find it difficult to live out of a suitcase and to carry it on and off a coach. On a cruise you can set your own pace. You can take an extra suitcase if you want one and leave all your luggage on board when you are sightseeing without any worry. You can have an afternoon nap if you need one after an exhausting day. If you prefer to stay on board at a port there will always be entertainment. On the other hand if you are feeling energetic you can try the gym or the swimming pool.
With CMV cruises we found a wide choice of food on board ranging from the exotic to simple English dishes. You can have as much or as little as you like. If you have any special dietary requirements or allergies you can discuss these with one of the chefs. On our last cruise there was a special table in the buffet catering for vegetarian, vegan, gluten free, diabetic and other special diets.
Nowadays there are cruises to suit all budgets and as you have already paid for accommodation, insurance, food, entertainment, leisure activities and often excursions and tips it is very easy to budget.
As my husband is almost 80, it is reassuring to know that there is an English speaking doctor on board should we need it. When we were at sea the coastguard did an exercise with the ship which involved landing an emergency helicopter. On our second cruise we were glad that they practise these drills as one of the passengers unfortunately suffered a stroke and had to be airlifted to safety.
I am a convert to cruising and as followers of this blog know we recently went to St. Petersburg again with CMV cruises. This Baltic cruise included stops in Copenhagen and my favourite port Tallinn, the capital of Estonia. We have brought back memories and photos which we will treasure for the rest of our lives.
If you would like to find out more about CMV cruises and to check prices and availability. Click here to find out more.
Our future plans
We are already looking at travel brochures and are very tempted by another CMV cruise from Bristol to Spain and Portugal in April. My daughter spent three months in Seville teaching English with the Erasmus scheme and this cruise gives passengers a chance to visit for the festival as well as touching the coast of Africa.
Do you enjoy cruising? I always love reading your comments.