If delivery is indeed in the details, then few would really argue that a cruise is not one- and perhaps the- most all inclusive package holiday available today. And, thanks to research brought to light by the Mirror’s Captain Greybeard, we now know that cruising as a holiday now costs something like twenty two per cent less per person than it did a few years ago.
That’s a staggering figure.
It needs to be borne in mind also that cabins on the new ships especially are far bigger and more comfortable than on any generation of ships beforehand. In saying that, I should add that all the remarks in this piece are related to mainstream cruise ships, and not the small, deluxe vessels that include virtually everything.
And yet, a few little things- things that once meant a lot- have gone by the wayside. Turn a hundred and eighty degrees in your own personal cruising wake, and you’ll realise just how many bits and pieces that were once free have now either been thrown overboard, or come at an extra charge.
Gone, but not forgotten by any means. Liners and cruise ships used to be wreathed in a tremendous, technicolor tsunami of paper streamers as the moment of sailing approached. They were supposed to signal the last, tenuous links between shipboard life and reality. When they snapped, it signified the beginning of the voyage proper.
Not any more. Complaints surfaced that this mass of paper is not bio degradable, and a true waste of paper. Of course, it also took a hell of a lot of sweeping up for some poor dockyard workers after the event.
But what fun it was, flinging those bright paper trailers down to people on the quay who gathered to watch us move out majestically into the distance.
When I booked a trip in days gone by, nothing- and I mean nothing- was as exciting as getting that call or letter from the travel agent to say that your tickets had arrived. Every one of those leather embossed wallet documents was like the best Christmas present ever.
You pawed through all the documents, the airline tickets, and the pretty luggage tags with a kind of child like reverence and fascination. OK, I did.
Now it’s all ‘print your own’ documents and, while I can see the practicality for cruise lines (it saves them a fortune) I can’t help but feel cheated of something that was a cherished part of the whole pre cruise ritual.
Oh, how I loved these. I’m not so sure about my friends. Glossy little snapshots of my glamourous, albeit temporary abode, and free with the stationary that was supplied in your cabin. You might still get the odd one or two, but extras? You guessed it; stump up the cash, sonny.
There’s something that’s either touching or else pathetic about the attachment of a supposedly grown man to a gaudy, brightly colored plastic stick that might be emblazoned with the name of a ship or cruise line. The little things that enlivened our pre dinner cocktails, along with those tiny, vomit coloured little paper umbrellas that allowed us to parade our sophisticated, pina colada quaffing, lotus eater credentials to our fellow shipmates, as they struggled to find a matching coloured straw to go with their orange bacardi breezers. Now, we largely have to make do with straws, too.
Not quite the last straw, but the way things are going, it may not be long. As long as the bean counting protocol droids on shoreside remain in the ascendant, only our memories will remain sacrosanct.