The unique appeal of cruise holidays is that they allow you immerse yourself in amazing destinations while travelling in comfort and luxury; here, LifstyleFifty‘s Johanna Castro delves into her experiences, and explains why your 50s are perfect time to set sail and see the world…
You’ve probably read articles and even books around ‘places to see before you die’. Maybe you’ve heard about various bucket lists of things you should do before you physically run out of steam – perhaps you’ve even compiled a list yourself?
I think that your 50s are the perfect time to start ticking things off that travel bucket list, and cruising should be up there near the top because it offers such varied exploration and achievable mid-life adventure.
Although it can be adventurous, it’s also genteel and in most cases a five-star experience. I’d also add that once you start cruising, you’ll most probably become addicted and continue cruising well into your later years. And that’s no bad thing, because cruise lines offer loyalty programmes that can save you lots of money over time and offer many benefits.
I know of two very lovely people who have spent just shy of six years at sea. Yes, six years! You can read more about them and why they love cruising in my post World Cruise Veterans – Meet The Parrys. It’s a funny old world really: you see, before we went on a 104-night around the World Cruise with Princess Cruises, we’d always eschewed the very thought of cruising.
We were in our 50s and truth be known, we considered ourselves too young for holidays at sea on big ocean liners. We also thought it would offer too little time in each destination, and we believed it really was something to do when we were perhaps older and unable to cope with the hassles of overland or plane travel.
We were wrong on both counts… and quite a few more.
1. Immersive Experiences
Although cruising does only offer you a short time in each country or city, I’ve found that it offers a fully immersive experience. The ship’s tours and excursions (especially on Princess Cruises) are designed to get you to experience the heart of a place, whether it be via a cultural tour, photographic experience, or even a foodie adventure.
Sure, there isn’t time to do everything – but knowing that you only have 6-8 hours in a port means that you try to do as much as possible. The beauty of this is that you can really immerse yourself in the culture, expend all your energy and return to the ship ready for a recuperative laze in a hot tub with a long cool cocktail – or with just enough oomph left in you to chat with others about their experiences of the day.
I love that aspect of cruising. It’s all ‘go, go, go’ on shore, then absolute decadence back onboard the ship.
Tip: Try and do as much research as you can about a destination prior to arrival. We’d most likely listen to the cruise destination experts offering various information about shore options in enrichment lectures. We’d add as much as possible to our list of ‘must sees’ and then, knowing that we wouldn’t have to make any arrangements to travel on afterwards, and we wouldn’t have to book a restaurant or catch a plane, we would put our heads down and explore as much as we possibly could.
There was just one deadline – getting back to the Ship for departure time. Because nobody – and I mean nobody – wants to be caught out waving the ship goodbye from ground level dockside!
2. Fabulous Amenities
Cruise ships really are like floating hotels carrying you from one amazing country to another, and the amenities on board are likely to be fabulous.
On Princess Cruises, there was nonstop entertainment in various theatres, lounges, clubs and bars on any given night, and just think – without needing to figure out how you’ll get home, you’re free to enjoy that extra glass or two of wine with peace of mind. The restaurants really were amazing, too – and it was tough trying not to overeat.
I loved the fact that you only have to unpack once, and the ease of this was brought back to me time and time again. The joy I felt each time I boarded the ship after a shore excursion knowing that fresh clothes were waiting for me, already unpacked and hanging up in the cabin, was immensely pleasurable.
Now I’m over 50, the idea of a holiday where I don’t have to keep on packing and unpacking, or arrange complicated overland itineraries, or pay for taxis after a night’s wining and dining, is incredibly satisfying.
3. Total Relaxation
Call me Lady Muck, but I also loved being waited on hand and foot. No menu planning, no shopping for groceries, no food prep or washing up – that was amazing. We could also choose to have breakfast in bed if we wanted to, and also had a selection of fabulous options when it came to dine each evening.
In our 50s, most of us are still very busy at work and at home – and so don’t often have time to do the things we’d really like to. You know, simple things like having time to read a book or perhaps get crafty (I enjoy making cards and beads) – or perhaps to just sit and daydream curled up on a comfy lounger by a sparkling swimming pool.
During sea days, you’ll most likely have time for all those things, as well as having experts on hand to guide you in craft classes, a library full of books to read, and interesting onboard lecturers to inspire you about all sorts of unusual topics.
4. Keep Fit While You Have Fun
I also loved the fact that there were plenty of exercise options onboard, from the well-equipped gym to an array of exercise classes – and even Zumba, which was great fun. Being in my 50s, I enjoy regular gentle exercise and the ship we were on provided so much variety.
5. Incredible Destinations
I suppose most of all though, cruising is about the fantastic destinations you can visit.
Your travel bucket list can actually be ticked off fairly swiftly on a world cruise, and often you can quite literally get from ship’s gangway to major iconic sites in minutes.
One of my most incredible memories will be almost cruising into Times Square in New York – well not quite, but nearly! Sea Princess nosed her way street side, with the Empire State Building clearly visible from our cabin.
Then there was Cobh in Ireland, where we ported almost in the town centre – and when we departed it seemed as if the whole town came out to wave and sing us goodbye.
I could go on and on about the destinations we visited on the amazing world cruise –the tropical islands in French Polynesia were exotic and relaxing, the chilly Baltic countries of Helsinki, Russia, and Latvia were culturally stunning, and the experiences of transiting the Panama and Suez Canals were mind blowing. All of these most definitely constituted memorable bucket list ‘ticks’.
All in all, cruising for me is definitely a mode of travel I’d like to do more of in my 50s and beyond, because it encompasses so many exciting new adventures with a balanced amount of absolute ease.
Is cruising on your bucket list of things to do? Where would you love to visit? Let us know in the comments section below.