Until as late as the 1960’s, the reason people boarded a cruise ship was simply for transportation. It was mass transit on the high seas where all manner of passengers traveled from point A to point B.
However, with the booming new airline industry at that time, cruise ships and their appeal waned in the public eye. Also, unless you were the fortunate members of First Class, your accommodations were less than glamorous. Why spend days traveling from New York to Paris when a jet airliner could whisk you there in a matter of hours? During this decade the world changed its pace, and ocean travel seemed to fall a lap behind.
The grand ocean liners of the past, such as the Queen Elizabeth, Lusitania, Queen Mary, and others seemed to lose their appeal particularly for those traveling “below deck.” To level the experience, a significant change was ushered in at Cunard Line Limited with its world famous liner, the Queen Elizabeth II. In 1974, they decided to offer world-class entertainment onboard with a broad variety of live shows and famous personalities.
They didn’t stop there though. The perks, including world-class cuisine, gambling, and access to all locations on the ship, were now available to every passenger onboard. Their inclusive approach to “one class” of cruise traveler was the milestone in changing the history of cruising.
Also, to counter the lingering perception that arriving faster at your destination is better, the cruise lines reinvented their marketing. It was their intention to redefine the cruise as a destination in and of itself. To accomplish this, the experience of cruising was rewritten to lure passengers with an irresistible shipboard environment. Sparking the fire under this new campaign was the 1970’s hit TV show “Love Boat.” Passengers were promised “love, exciting and new” adventures, and romance on the open seas.
This fluffy show could not have aired at a better time for the industry. It cemented the concept that cruising is a destination in itself. The experience on the ship could be equally as enchanting as the land destinations at your ports of call. Now we were ‘sold’ on the idea that going on a cruise was a real vacation unto itself!
In the past few years there has been another dimension added to the history of cruising – theme cruises. These unique experiences focus on the shipboard experiences in combination with the land based destinations and activities. Themed cruise options available today include topics such as eco-tours to the planet’s most pristine locations, birding tours, history and culture tours, popular TV show cruises, decade themes, and specialized trips with experts.
This expansion has revitalized the destination as an integral part of the package. Cruise line companies are now experiencing a boom in the sheer numbers of people choosing to sail the open seas. In response, they are building larger and even more luxurious ocean liners, some carrying just under 7,000 passengers (Symphony of the Seas). Cruising has definitely regained its hold on the vacationer!
Angela is a professional freelance travel writer and published indie author – AngelaMinor.com