You don’t have to be old to go on a cruise

by Сашка

A stubborn notion persists that ship-seeing is reserved for sedentary retirees, and it’s just not true

I love far-flung destinations. Since childhood, anytime I’ve ever unfolded a map, my eyes have invariably been drawn to the most remote specks of land they depict: dots suspended amid open ocean, points as removed from major landmasses as possible. What is going on there? As an adult, I’ve been fortunate to find ample answers to that inquiry. And more often than not, I have cruise ships to thank for the privilege.

Yet among my millennial cohort, I often find myself having to defend my decision to even board one. Despite the fact that adventure-laden “expedition cruises” are the fastest growing segment of the industry, a stubborn notion persists that ship-seeing is reserved for sedentary retirees. My experiences suggest otherwise.

During various cruises, I’ve kayaked past calving icebergs deep in the fjords of eastern Greenland, paddleboarded beside leopard seals in Antarctica and traversed glaciers high in the Canadian Arctic. That was all before my 40th birthday. And I was hardly the youngest guest on any of those go-rounds.

“While boomers and retirees still dominate the marketplace, the increase of 30-50 year olds joining luxury expedition cruising is growing every year,” Robert Castro, vice president of marketing for Scenic Luxury Cruises and Tours, said in an email. “As travel has re-emerged past the [pandemic] pause, we have seen a pronounced uptick in this demographic.”

On a two-week-long voyage south of the Antarctic Circle, a guest aboard the elegantly appointed Scenic Eclipse can expect to make landfall almost daily. That is, if they’re not already otherwise engaged in paddling excursions on any particular morning.

But the appeal for me goes well beyond getting to stretch my legs in an almost supernatural setting. I’m almost as excited to simply unpack my bags. As a travel writer, I’m on the road for much of the year, living out of a suitcase and struggling to file stories in crowded airport terminals. Entering a private cabin for an extended maritime expedition affords me a degree of quietude and routine I sorely lack.

I cherish those seemingly mundane moments, placing carefully folded clothes onto shelving. My luggage lays lonely and unseen for longer than even seems reasonable. I get used to a surrounding — even as the scenery through my porthole is in constant flux.

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In 2023, a two-week-long cruise through Greenland’s Scoresby Sound marked the longest consecutive number of nights I spent in a single bed all year. And though we were charting waters thousands of miles away from the nearest tracts of civilization, I had uninterrupted WiFi the entire time. So it was also one of the most productive two-week stretches of my year as well.

Indeed, more and more cruise liners are implementing global satellite-based internet systems, such as Starlink. So, you never have to truly be out of office, which — for better or worse — is an invaluable selling point for my age demo.

I fully understand why some of my peers are hesitant about cruises. I’ll be the first to admit that I view mega cruise ships as some especially vile form of floating mall. But that’s an entirely separate sort of beast.

But smaller cruises are continually enabling me to address my childlike fixation with what’s going on there. In my younger years, I probably wouldn’t have been so eager to uncover the answer atop the yawing bow of an ocean liner. That’s the province of pensioners. But things change. Or maybe I’m just getting old.

Brad Japhe is a London-based travel writer. You can follow him on Instagram: @journeys_with_japhe.

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