Ihave a confession: I’m a terrible packer. Surprising for a traveller of my frequency, perhaps, yet true. It stems from the fact that I hate making definitive choices before being faced by the reality – simply put, I can’t decide what I want to wear for an entire week before I even get there. Which leads to throwing in “options”, last-minute switch-outs and cramming in about five more pairs of shoes than I actually need. Plus my gym gear, even when I know I won’t have the time; it’s good for my conscience –
I tried to work out, honest.
But despite my failure in the art of smart packing, I don’t mind the process. It’s all part of the excitement of embarking on a journey. What I don’t enjoy is unpacking. Come over within the first week after I return from a trip and you’ll likely have to step over my half-empty suitcases or duty-free purchases to get to the couch. Unpacking is just so boring. And I’m clearly not the only one who thinks that, given the number of fine hotels the world over offering butler service to take care of such dull tasks (though, between us, I’ve never been comfortable with a perfect stranger handling my delicates).
So it should come as no surprise that one of our many compelling reasons for why cruises may be the best way to see the world is that you can travel from port to port, country to country, without having to pack and unpack more than once. I know I’m sold! Of course, there are far more epic reasons to get on board. You’re probably sceptical, but if you’re picturing bingo nights and 5pm early-bird dinner specials then you haven’t been keeping up-to-date with just how sexy many liners now are. Some are floating cities with Broadway-level entertainment; others are more intimate with award-winning design and Michelin pedigree in the kitchen. There are cruises that promise epic adventure (there’s no better way to see Antarctica or the Amazon), others that allow you to drift sleepily from one Mediterranean island to another – still others will take you right around the world like explorers of yore. Need more enticement?
Head to page 36 and I dare you to remain unconvinced. (Once you’re sure, check out our list of 2019 cruise launches that start right here in Dubai, page 56.)
Cruising also appeals to me as another form of slow travel – not simply because you’re not rushing to arrive somewhere but also because the smaller, more specialised and curated cruises often take passengers into remote, locally authentic, less touristy parts of a country. Think river boats and charters that explore off-the-beaten-track islands and regions.
The “slow” movement has even reached mountain heights – so says writer Adam H Graham, who might have coined the term “slow skiing” when he spent a winter in remote Honshu, immersing himself in mountain culture while enjoying Japan’s famous powder ( p 84). If the beach is more your thing, we suggest the languorous pace of Isla Holbox in Mexico, a truly under-the-radar spot where you’ll frolic with flamingos and dolphins, and live and eat more or less like a local ( p 94).
It’s the end of another year, there’s no better time to resolve that next year you’ll make the effort to slow things down. Just don’t miss your boarding call.
Discover Réunion Island as part of a cruise itinerary; Alila Purnama sails to Indonesian islands; boating in the English countryside on the River Thames; Michelin-level dining on Seabourn cruises
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