Tuesday, 25 October 2011

Leave the real world behind: Go Cruising

"Watch you don't catch the menopause” was one of the nicer comments I received from peers when I informed them of this year's big holiday: A Cruise to the Holy Land.


The Holy Land is not really your regular vacation destination and for good reason – it certainly is anything but regular! But that is worth a few posts of explanation!

Cruising is quite a stereotypical holiday, not usually associated with those looking for adventure, youth, excitement or culture. Middle aged Americans are the typical clients, large families gather to celebrate a big occasion and some honeymooners have been starting to hop on board – but what can it offer to the rest of us?
Everything, Anything and more!

Vision of the Seas docked in Istanbul (c)fifiheavey

As usual, this year's holiday was supposed to be a cheap sun holiday firstly because of budget restraints but also because I just wanted to relax and not rush around trying to fit every single thing of cultural and historical interest into my itinerary But that was soon scraped and next thing we found ourselves booked on to a 10 night Royal Caribbean Cruise to the Holy Land: relaxation with a dash of culture and spirituality, history, conflict and context!

It was me who had the apprehension about the cruise, the clientèle, the lack of things to do, the somber night life, the monotony ...
And how wrong I was.
 It was like entering a different world, one of luxury, relaxation, stress and hassle free. No money carried on board, no luggage to be tolerated from place to place, no tough decision over places to eat and drink, no language barrier .... total bliss!

Open deck
The cruise ship was amazing (despite being 13 years old) glamorous and spacious with fabulous outdoor and indoor pools, jacuzzis, sun bathing space, bars, a casino, lounges, creative open spaces, a spa, a gym, a shopping mall, theater and some fine dining rooms.
Even our cheapo last minute room was superb. Small but adequate, with loads of storage and wardrobe space, a TV and the option to turn off all the on ship announcements! (And enough room to host some parties!)

Yes the majority of people on board are over 60 and are American, but there is everyone and anyone mingling around the ship. The young and old from all over world mix, eat, drink and dance in perfect harmony.
We were not a few hours on board getting to know our surroundings when we had met fabulous people we became best friends with for the next ten days (and hopefully longer!)
Dining room mates, pool side pals, stool bar buddies, disco divas, theater companions and on shore excursion travellers formed our whole new world.

Showboat room

The destinations (Istanbul, Haifa, Jerusalem, Athens, Kusadasi) were obviously a huge part of the cruise, but even on all day cruising periods it is impossible to get bored. There is so much to do, that relaxation even takes back seat. The night life is of course what you make it – if you stay within your group of friends or couple well then you will be missing out. Everyone is so open, everyone wants to talk and have fun, to learn about different countries and cultures without ever getting off the ship.

The food was excellent, buffet or formal there was so much choice. There were two formal nights on board which allowed us all to dress up and pretend we were on Titanic (without the iceberg and drama ...) I loved that everyone joined in, donned their best and enjoyed the fine life.

Take off - leaving Istanbul behind (c) fifiheavey

No you don't need to win the lotto to go on a cruise, it is actually quite cheap keep a look out for deals on line. And yes you can bet your American dollar (the currency used on board) that I will be going on a cruise again ... soon!

Cruising is a stereotypical holiday for those looking for an unconventional good time!

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