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Retirees lapping up the opportunity to go cruising

Despite the extra dollars and lingering COVID fears, the open seas have strong appeal as a holiday option. Just be careful to get the cruise that suits your interests and health needs.

Australian seniors are passionate about cruising. Despite the horror stories emanating from COVID and its impact on passengers aboard cruise ships, it has not dampened retirees’ appetite for the open seas. If anything, it’s enhanced it.

The Travel Trends Report 2022, which is part of the Australian Seniors Series that explores subject matters important to the retiree community, found that 61 per cent are considering a cruise for their next holiday.

It makes sense. Unlike flying to a destination, a cruise is laid back and relaxed, and the journey provides the opportunity to relax, socialise and rejuvenate while being as active (or inactive) as one prefers. It’s a form of holiday that suits everyone, from the adventurer to those who have mobility issues.

  • There are also a staggering number of different cruises, each with its own theme and features, to choose between. If you’re new to the cruising scene, these options can seem overwhelming, but with a bit of research and foresight, it won’t take long to figure out the best experience for you.

    There are plenty of tips and tricks to help seniors make the most of their cruising experience. Here are some to get you started.

    Not every cruise is senior-friendly: Because each cruise (and cruise liner) aims to find its own community and identity, the first thing to understand is that not every cruise will offer an experience tailored to seniors. Some cruises are designed for young people looking to party. Others cater to families with noisy children. Be sure to read the reviews and check and see whether they offer the experience you want.

    Look for senior discounts and solo cabins: One of the first steps in planning a senior-friendly cruise is to explore potential cost-saving opportunities. Many cruise lines offer special fares or promotions for travellers aged 55 and older, providing an excellent way to stretch your vacation budget. Additionally, for solo travellers, choosing a cruise ship with single occupancy rooms can mean significant savings.

    Invest in travel insurance: To safeguard against unforeseen circumstances, such as trip cancellations, medical emergencies or lost luggage, it is a very good idea to invest in comprehensive travel insurance. Beyond financial protection, travel insurance can provide peace of mind and access to a dedicated help line in case assistance is needed to rebook flights or hotels. With COVID still a concern on ships, having that peace of mind is more important than ever.

    Plan for special needs: Seniors with specific medical conditions or mobility issues should carefully plan their cruise accommodation. Booking a cabin that is accessible and tailored to individual needs ensures comfort throughout the journey. You might want to invest a little extra money to have a cabin with a veranda (cheaper cabins are either inside the ship with no window or have a window that doesn’t open). Having that private escape for fresh air can be a lifesaver if the cruise proves to be noisier and busier than expected.

    It’s also important to inform the cruise line of any dietary restrictions or allergies. Some cruise lines go the extra mile by offering special services for seniors such as priority boarding, in-room dining or wellness programs, enhancing the overall cruise experience (those cruises are also likely to be the ones with activities and facilities that seniors enjoy the most).

    Choose a suitable itinerary and ship:
    The diversity of cruise itineraries and ship offerings can be overwhelming, making it essential for seniors to carefully select options that align with their preferences and interests. Consider cruises that travel to destinations rich in history, culture or nature, and avoid cruises that may be too long, crowded or noisy. A good place to start is a cruise of three to seven days just to see what your tolerance for the experience is like. If you enjoy it, some cruises can last for weeks, but be aware that once you get on, you’re committed to the entire journey.

    Embrace social opportunities: Cruising presents an excellent opportunity for seniors to engage with like-minded individuals, fostering new friendships and creating lasting memories. Essentially, you’re all on the boat together, and while you’re all strangers on day one, by day three you’re recognising faces, and by day seven you’re on a first-name basis with everyone in the evening activities bar.

    Participating in onboard activities, socialising in lounges and joining shore excursions with fellow seniors can enhance the experience. For those travelling with family or friends, some cruise lines offer multigenerational programs and family-friendly cabins, allowing seniors to share the adventure with their loved ones.

    Finally, be aware that cruises are a premium way to travel and holiday and tend to cost more than an equivalent holiday on land. The thing is, though, most people who go on a cruise find it to be money well spent, because it offers a true resort experience and an escape from all the troubles in the world.

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