Sea glistening. Sun glinting. Vast landscape gleaming.
It’s 10am on a Monday morning. Book in hand, legs outstretched, you lean back to take in the rays of another perfect day under the Mediterranean sky. The constant whoops and cheers of others enjoying themselves poolside provide a perfect soundtrack to an unscheduled eight hours full of no meetings and not a single report. A glass of champagne sits just beside your left hand, and a platter of exotic cheeses to your right, as you recline on a sun lounger. Somewhere in the world, it’s after 5pm - right?
Not that it matters - because for you, every day for the foreseeable future is Friday at 5pm.
Is there a more glamorous holiday than a cruise?
The mystique of setting sail from the stable mainland, off on a voyage into the great blue yonder has long been associated with the lifestyles of the wealthy and famous. Or the recently retired.
Cruises now cater to every calibre of traveller. The young and party-hungry: Check. The work-fatigued and burnt out: Check. The “we’ve given the kids to the grandparents for two weeks”: Check. The romantics: Check. The romance-averse: Check. Check. Check.
Surely there’s no better way to wake in the morning, than throwing open your door to look out onto the great unknown. Waves lapping underneath, a wander down to a prime spot on a deck overlooking the rest of the action for breakfast is probably in order after that. And then - the world really is your oyster. There’s arguably just as much to do onboard a trip over the sea than there is on land.
By day, the decks stretch before you like a new city waiting to be explored. The pools and hot tubs provide entertainment whatever the weather, while some ships offer mini golf courses, driving ranges and live demonstrations of anything you can think of.
Feeling lazy? Go to a movie at the cinema. Feeling active? Try the basketball court. Feeling worthy of some TLC? Head for the on-board boutiques.
By night, the decks transform into a scene more akin to Saturday night in any bustling city, than a ship in the middle of the ocean. Bars and restaurants offer differing takes on a range of cuisines, live music streams from impassioned jazz bands and solo crooners, and the drinks flow in every direction.
Culinary demonstrations and wine tastings please the more sophisticated, as do variations like art galleries and dance classes.
And less than a few minutes walk at all times, is the calming lap of the ocean carrying you to your next destination.
But best of all? You’re still not at work.
All the while - you’re experiencing new countries and cultures at regular intervals. While in at ports, cruise companies can organise a day on solid land full of new experiences on your behalf, or you can grab a map and go off into the wilderness on your own. It’s all up to you.
Really, it’s the best of both worlds - relaxing and lounging while at sea, while still ticking off your bucket list and etching up the list of visited countries all at once.
It’s only too easy now to throw caution to the wind and board a floating luxury hotel for any amount of time, and to almost any destination.
Mediterranean? Grab the Porto and a sunhat, you’re on! The South Pacific? On ya mate - pop over to visit the Aussie neighbours for a shorter stint. Europe? You betcha. Caribbean? Make like Stella and go get your groove back!
Then there’s the places that don’t seem a typical cruise destination. Ever thought about retracing the footsteps (or water ripples) of the Vikings - from Stockholm to Bergen? Or exploring the coast and hidden gems of Russia, through the rivers of St Petersburg to Moscow? The vast fleet of cruise ships and companies around the world mean now even the most remote corners of the globe can be reached by boat.