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LaraGransnet (GNHQ) Thu 18-Jun-15 14:53:04

Cruising convert

Milly Johnson is of the opinion that nothing beats a cruise holiday. It’s the perfect place to drift, both physically and mentally. And, contrary to popular opinion they’re not just for the old and rich either.

Milly Johnson

Cruising convert

Posted on: Thu 18-Jun-15 14:53:04


Lead photo

What a dreamboat...

To cruise or not to cruise – that is the question. People who haven’t cruised are often unlikely to take the leap onto a ship, unless dragged on by a friend (as I was) because they have a set-in-stone vision of what it would be like. ‘I’ll be bored’, ‘I’m claustrophobic’ even ‘I’ve haven’t got enough posh frocks’ are common excuses. So let me dispel a few myths, as an ardent convert to this way of travelling. Firstly – there are as many activities as you could ever need on board most ships. There are lectures, classes, casino, singers, shows, cinemas, libraries - and bingo! Before I went on one, I didn’t appreciate that ships these days are floating villages.

For me though, a ship is the only place where I can do absolutely nothing and not feel guilty about it. Downing tools and shutting off that work-part of a brain is an acquired art, but I have acquired it on board. I read, I sit in the sun, I nod off and I people-watch to my heart’s content. And, contrary to a few beliefs, sharing a vessel with two thousand other passengers does not mean you are crammed in like sardines. Okay, so it might be quite difficult to find a table in the buffet at peak lunchtime, but you always do find somewhere. And there are plenty of places where you can go to read, chill, have a quiet coffee – even on the family cruises in the school holidays.

Miss Dior fashion mingles with Matalan, diamonds with diamante – it's not necessary to have a ball gown made by Stella McCartney to fit in at one of the gala dinners.

I’ve clocked up over twenty cruises now and have never yet seen anyone trying to hi-jack a lifeboat to get ashore because they are ‘stir-crazy’. The sea days are perfect times for being mentally adrift as well as physically. You can forget what day it is, what time it is and what atrocities are happening in the world (of course for those who would rather not – there’s always the internet.) Port days are magical – small snapshots of wonderful places – seven holidays crammed into one – Venetian gondolas, Corfu beaches, dolphin-watching in Gibraltar – swimming in the emerald-green seas of Sardinia. What other holiday gives you all that in a fortnight?

Cruising is not exclusive to the old and rich. I came to it because I was divorced with a very young family and was persuaded this would be an ideal way for me to holiday because I could laze and the kids could bounce in the kid’s club (which I couldn’t drag them out of). Ships are geared up to entertain and cater for the gentile and the lively, pensioners and children. Miss Dior fashion mingles with Matalan, diamonds with diamante – it’s not necessary to have a ball gown made by Stella McCartney to fit in at one of the gala dinners. The dress code is smart casual on many dining nights – and, guess what, shorts and tee-shirts reign during the days. Not a dicky bow in sight.
The majority of people who make that leap to book a cruise come back time and again and, really – as one of them - I am SO not surprised.

Milly’s new book, Afternoon Tea at the Sunflower Café, is published by Simon and Schuster and is available now.

By Milly Johnson

Twitter: @MillyJohnson

Galen Thu 18-Jun-15 15:40:34

As an ardent cruiser I couldn't agree more!

whitewave Thu 18-Jun-15 16:01:50

I am so looking forward to mine this year. I am more Matalan than Dior but love dressing up, the total relaxation and enjoyment of the port stops. Love every minute of it.

Margsus Thu 18-Jun-15 16:36:03

Totally addicted to cruising, there is no better holiday. We're going on a more casual cruise this year, DH relishing the idea of not having to pack a suit.

ninathenana Thu 18-Jun-15 17:14:21

Love cruising

Pittcity Thu 18-Jun-15 18:01:27

I love the dressing up but DH always rushes to change at the earliest opportunity.

Stansgran Thu 18-Jun-15 18:59:55

We've just Sailed to Byzantium. We've seen wonderful places with a theme. Some we've been to before but looked at them from a different angle . I like the small ships. It was quite strenuous though. No lazy days at sea. This weekend we stayed in Oban at a hotel where people gathered before a cruise around the Scottish Islands and I did wonder if it was for a much older age range

Galen Thu 18-Jun-15 21:55:16

What are you calling old?
I'm 70

Pittcity Fri 19-Jun-15 08:17:16

I quite fancy the cruise around the Scottish Islands. They are small, only about a dozen rooms, so you would need to be able to get on with all sorts. Ona big ship you can easily socialise or spend time alone as you wish.

Brendawymms Fri 19-Jun-15 08:51:26

We love cruising having found the size of ship and type of ship that most meets our needs.
Unpacking once, visiting lots of places and for me no coo kings, cleaning or having to think at all. You also meet some lovely people who bring new perspectives.

inishowen Fri 19-Jun-15 11:30:20

We've done eight cruises and have learned to make them suit ourselves. We don't particularly like sharing a table with strangers at dinner, so now we ask for a table for two, and get it! Throughout the year I trawl through the charity shops for fancy clothes but you do not need to wear formal things unless you want to!

vickymeldrew Fri 19-Jun-15 11:50:40

I truly believe the only people who "don't like cruises" are the ones who haven't been !

harrigran Fri 19-Jun-15 12:51:54

DH designed ships and would not set foot on a cruise liner, that is all the knowledge I need but if Butlins at sea floats your boat good luck grin

Margsus Fri 19-Jun-15 13:44:37

It is nothing at all like Butlins at sea Harrigran! I assume you've never been on a cruise? So much depends on which cruise line you choose, which ship, etc. The days of deck quoits (spelling?) and the like are long gone.

Pittcity Fri 19-Jun-15 13:55:14

Not unless Butlins has improved to be better than the best 5 star hotel and has moved since I last went!

GillT57 Fri 19-Jun-15 13:56:10

No, nothing at all like Butlins! I took a bit of persuading before our first one, and really enjoyed it. Saying cruises are like Butlins is like saying USA is all theme parks, not true at all.

Galen Fri 19-Jun-15 14:54:28

Grills class on Cunard are like staying at the Ritz ( and probably as expensive)

Judthepud2 Fri 19-Jun-15 15:20:39

I have enjoyed several cruises, the last was a very snowy visit to Norway to see the Northern Lights. The first was an Eastern Med one to places now out of bounds like Syria and Lebanon, and included a total eclipse of the sun. I would love to do a world cruise but DH gets seasick, so unless I go alone that is not likely. And it costs a fortune!

Judthepud2 Fri 19-Jun-15 15:21:41

Oh and I would much prefer cruising on a small ship to those huge affairs!

Stansgran Fri 19-Jun-15 16:23:25

I will be this year Galen. I thought 85 + but I'm not good at guessing ages.

NanSue Fri 19-Jun-15 20:46:26

I'm happy to have found this thread. We are off on our first cruise in a few weeks time to Norwegian Fjordes. Not really my choice if I'm honest but DH rarely gets to choose, mainly because he can't be bothered but when this was suggested he was really keen. I'm worried about being seasick, being bored and lots of little things but everyone has so many positive things to say, I am now looking forward to it a lot more. Thanks Gransnetters!

Bennan Sat 20-Jun-15 06:54:41

DH and I had a delightful cruise on a small ship down the Caledonian Canal in March last year. The dress code was smart casual when dining (great food), we could walk ashore at the stopping places, the weather was very sunny and we met some lovely people. The crew were superb and we will go again and do the island route. Relaxing and full of interest and so quiet - bliss!

vickymeldrew Sat 20-Jun-15 12:21:34

NanSue. Your forthcoming cruise is one of the best. Take your sea sickness tablets with you just in case, but you're unlikely to need them. You will really enjoy it and you will probably laugh at yourself for being worried! Harrigran - in the nicest way - not a good idea to comment on something you haven't done ......

kittylester Sun 21-Jun-15 08:58:44

Vicky, If you read Harrigran's post she has a perfectly valid reason for her opinion.

Stansgran Sun 21-Jun-15 10:08:30

Actually I didn't understand Harrigran's post. Was it because he was designed them to sink?grin