Travel Trends :: Larger than Life {@ sea}

cruising travel trends[trip style = cruising] The Titanic was impressive (as were Leo and Kate in the movie). Ninety-eight years later, we have ships with ice rinks, climbing walls, skeet shooting, cantilevered hot tubs and surf simulators. And that's not even the latest and greatest. Wow. Now there's vodka ice lounges, the first Starbucks at sea, aqua theaters, zip lines and Central Park-like promenades. This week's travel trend explores the zany and fabulous of larger than life ocean liners.

My First My first cruise experience was a short child care contract with Celebrity cruise lines. I worked on the Century taking care of children by day and going to shows by night. Days off in St. Marten weren't half bad either! Fast forward 5 years. Enamored and intrigued by a ship with an ice rink, surf simulator and mini-golf, my husband and I decided to try out the latest and greatest at the time: Royal Caribbean's Freedom of the Seas. We kept ourselves so busy on the ship---surfing in the morning, sunning in the afternoon, dining and show-ing in the evening---we didn't even want to get off at port.

Freedom of the SeasThe Rumors were True Five years ago we heard rumors of a ship even bigger and more impressive than the Freedom (biggest in the world at the time), and couldn't conceive of it. But that ship, Royal Caribbean's Oasis of the Seas is not only in service, but its sister, the Allure of the Seas, is just about to start passenger service! {For a sneak peak, see videos like the making of "Central Park" here.}

Along Came the Epic In between the launch of the Oasis in Dec of 2009 and the Allure, Norwegian had a go at its version of a mega ship. The aptly named Epic has the first big-top circus tent at sea, a comedy club, a Blue Man Group headliner show, a vodka ice bar, a members-only day to night luxury club, an art deco-inspired supper club and the list goes on.

Verdict Cruising is not a trip style I indulge in regularly, but I'd love to try the Allure, Oasis and Epic in that order, not to mention some small luxury liners like one of the Yatchs of Seabourn. When I was on the Freedom I was worried I'd have nowhere to escape sun-tanners-who-are-loud-talkers, or 50-people-strong family reunion crews, but we always found peaceful places to relax after mangling our bodies on the 30-mile per hour water rushing at us from the flowrider surf simulator.

What customer-dazzling cruising features are next? A lazy river meandering around the entire ship, bungee jumping, downhill skiing, Cirque de Soleil vegas-style shows? I guess we'll have to wait and see...

Would you ever indulge in cruising as a trip style?  Why or why not?

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[photos: my own]