Life on the ocean waves

The Weekend Australian - Travel - - Travel & Indulgence - SU­SAN KURO­SAWA

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.

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