The popularity of cruising probably owes something to “The Love Boat,” the much-watched Saturday-night TV series that debuted in 1977 and ran for nearly 10 years. Each week, Hollywood stars would board a cruise ship for comedic and romantic adventures. Some scenes were filmed on real cruises along the Mexican Riviera. The actors (and the real passengers) dined in the main dining room, played shuffleboard on deck, danced in the onboard disco and indulged at the midnight buffet.
A lot has changed since then, from how cruise ships are designed to how they entertain guests. For example, the Love Boat was set on the S.S. Pacific Princess, which carried 750 passengers at most. Today, some ships can sail with 6,000 passengers; a ship that carries less than 1,000 is most often a luxury or specialty ship. Ships now have better stabilizers, which help minimize seasickness, as well as modern safety systems and eco-friendly features.
Dressing up for dinner was a daily event on the Love Boat, but today’s passengers favor more casual, “dine when and where you like” programs. They often bypass the main dining room in favor of onboard specialty restaurants, casual cafés, and high-end quick-serve options. The midnight buffet has departed, but if the midnight hour finds you hungry, many ships have 24-hour room service.
Dance lessons, sunbathing and theme parties are time-honored cruise activities, but today’s ships offer so much more to do. Onboard spas offer the newest treatments (think Thai poultice massage and ginger-lime scrubs), and fitness centers have equipment and classes you may not have encountered on land yet. Depending on your ship, you might be entertained by water parks, light shows, diving demonstrations, or Broadway-style musicals in high-caliber theaters.
Staterooms have evolved, too, with more amenities in even the most economical cabins. Flat-screen TVs, minifridges, safes, hairdryers, high-end toiletries and clever spaces for storage are common. Suites come with even more, such as bathrooms with actual bathtubs, fresh flowers, and plush robes and slippers. Newer ships are designed so as many staterooms as possible have private balconies; on some ships, interior cabins have a virtual window with an ever-changing image of what’s outside the ship.
To appreciate all that’s new about cruising and all that hasn’t changed (such as the fun and romantic ambiance), talk with Anita, your professional travel advisor about the many cruise line and itinerary options available to you.
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