Sailing away from the sea?

With cruise lines already ordering the ships that will come into service up to a decade from now, it is interesting to consider how they will change cruising, writes Robin Mead.

The experts at are forecasting lots more LED screens and virtual reality, greater automation and – rather more encouragingly – improved waste disposal and water efficiency while at sea. Engines are due for major changes, too.

We support all the improvements that will enable cruise ships to have as little impact on the environment as possible. But we can’t help wondering whether the changes will frighten away passengers who enjoy a cruise because of the close relationship it gives them with the sea.

One cruise line has already created virtual balconies, bringing ocean views to inside cabins. Also on the cards are voice activated in-room assistants, even more automated ‘bar tenders’, and technology that will enable passengers to experience the heat and smells of a port before the ship arrives there.

Which begs the question: why get off the ship at all? And, if you are going to stay on board, amid the money-grabbing shops and ever-expanding casinos, why go cruising? Why not save yourself a lot of money and go to Las Vegas instead? Or even Blackpool?

Perhaps this website is too nostalgic for strolls around the deck in the salty air, for being in the hands of a friendly Purser rather than an anonymous customer relations desk. For deck games and mid-morning beef tea instead of electronic marvels and ‘speciality’ restaurants. But we can’t help feeling glad that we did most of our cruising in the days when these were the norm and cruise ships were real ships rather than vast floating playgrounds.

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