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HindustanTimes Sat,30 Aug 2014
What floats your boat
Sonali Shah, Hindustan Times
September 01, 2012
First Published: 16:00 IST(1/9/2012)
Last Updated: 18:40 IST(1/9/2012)

Standing in front of the thundering Hubbard Glacier as the wind plays with your hair has often been described as a life-altering experience. The best way to revere ‘the longest ice face of Alaska, the most active glacier’ with 1,350 sq miles of blue ice, is from aboard a cruise liner. Hop onto a large cruise ship, bid the shore goodbye and gear up to experience the fun of cruising.

CruiseCruise Control
Pleasure cruising involves spending a few days aboard a cruise ship as it makes ports of call in various countries. You get to sail from port to port, from country to country, waking up in new lands. That’s much like a wanderer, only in extreme luxury!

I spent three nights aboard the Voyager of the Seas, the largest ship to have arrived in Asia, and landed back on shore raving about my trip. Popular mostly among India’s rich, cruising is an expensive hobby. The returns though, are just as rewarding – you get to visit several countries in one holiday, enjoy the activities on the ship and taste several cuisines.

All In A Day’s Fun
SkatingMy day onboard the Voyager of the Seas would begin at sunrise. Mornings were for lazing by the pool. The bars weren’t far away either, ensuring everyone had a merry time. Post lunch hours were spent exploring, evenings were for concerts in the theatre, an ice show and at the casino.

Each evening though, I was faced with a serious dilemma as I went through the day’s roster of entertainment. Several interesting shows were unfolding at several places on the ship. Eventually, the ice-skating rink won twice, as did the spa and the music show at the theatre. Post a scrumptious dinner, the place to be seen at was The Vault, the nightclub.

To-Do List
GolfOn a good cruise ship, you should be able to find both – places where you’ll be able to mingle with the crowds and little corners where you can get away from it all. Captain Charles Tiege, the handsome third-generation captain in his family, has a bit of advice for first-timers: “The biggest mistake people make on a cruise is that they try to do everything on the first day itself,” he says.

“Understand that the ship is a destination in itself.”

Apart from numerous sunbeds, there are split-level nightclubs, bars, libraries, theatres, ice-skating rinks, casinos, spas, mini-golf courses, amazingly equipped gymnasiums, game shows, comedy clubs, multiple swimming pools, lounges, basketball courts, surfing simulators, bowling alleys and much, much more. You can retire to your cabin’s private balcony and order room service as well.

Dining On Deck
You will also end up spending considerable time in the dining halls as each gourmet meal is a hearty multiple-course one. Some of the best chefs work their magic in the galleys so that you can enjoy your time onboard on a full stomach. A good percentage of ingredients are refilled at the ports of countries the ship passes by, ensuring availability of local, and often exotic produce. Each course that arrived at our table commanded a silence as everyone closed their eyes and lost themselves in the flavours.

DiningWhat To Pack
The first must-carry item is a bottle of sunscreen. Follow this by formal wear, casual wear, swimwear, camera, comfy footwear and a journal to preserve the memories. As a precautionary measure, also pack tablets to avoid motion sickness.

World Of Ports
Another enticing aspect about the voyage is the ports of call. Shore excursions arranged by the cruise acqu-aint you with new cities. You’re free to explore the city by yourself too. Seasoned cruisers however, love it when the ship calls on a port – when everyone else is ashore for the day and they can have the entire ship to themselves.

Cruise along
www.royalcaribbean.com
www.maraclubcruises.com
www.cruises.com
www.carnival.com
www.princess.com

From HT Brunch, September 2

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