Life on the ocean waves
AS you read this I will be about to set off on a 15-day cruise from Dubai to Singapore via ports in the UAE, India and Thailand. There are eight days at sea on the itinerary, which thrills me, despite the reaction of friends and family who suggest such idleness will be so very boring. They worry I will be able to sit still that long as I have declared I will be doing not much else but reclining in deckchairs and reading from seagull’s first yawn to the moonlight martini hour.
I have been in a frenzy of e-book downloading and have 12 in the queue plus a small stash of ‘‘real’’ print versions in my port. The great joy of cruising is the implicit permission to do nothing much and I can’t wait.
No wonder the industry is booming, with the Australian market leading the charge. At no time in the history of travel have we so needed to switch off from the insistent demands of technology, to take the rare opportunity to do nothing more time-wasting but enjoyable than, say, learning the shipboard arts of hostess napkin folding or striving for a certificate in advanced origami or the foxtrot. Cruising, I believe, makes happy idlers of us all.
According to the International Cruise Council Australasia, the Australian passenger market has tripled since 2006 and targets set for 2020 are being so swiftly reached they could well be exceeded before decade’s end.
None of this surprises me as I have been a cruising fan since voyages to and from England with my parents on the Arcadia. Aside from falling off the top bunk and bringing up my junior sailor’s tea as we rounded the Bay of Biscay (an exquisitely timed show, all over the captain), I soon realised the shipboard caper was for me.
And I still love it. Where else can you view a mermaid carved from ice, a King Neptune modelled from butter, a theatre troupe belting out all the great show tunes while you sip a giddy blue drink and sing along and not have to drive home. By the time I am back on dry land, I expect my folded paper cranes to be unparalleled.