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Cruising's Not All About Luring Youth


Question: How can seniors avoid that terrible curse of the elderly wrinkles?

Answer: Take off their glasses.

Ah, seniors. We are the butt of thousands of Internet jokes. We are disregarded by marketers obsessed with the 25 to 49 crowd. Even cruise ships, once the haven of the nearly elderly, have become playgrounds for the young and rich.

But hold the phone!

We are not forgotten.

Cruise Lines International Association research shows the average age of cruisers has dropped to an all-time low (48 years), because of the aforementioned catering to youth that has made them realize what their elders have known for years: “Cruising is irresistible.” Yet despite the CLIA figures, it’s clear that cruise lines still count on their primary market because all of them have strategies that are essentially only for Golden Agers:

• Longer itineraries are everywhere, and it’s retirees who have the time to book them.

• Exotic cruises are plentiful for a demographic that often focuses on the ol’ Bucket List…like seeing the Panama Canal, cruising the Mediterranean, or crossing an ocean in a ship.

Rock climbing• Upscale lines like Cunard, Crystal, Azamara and Oceania cater to seniors because that’s usually the crowd with the most disposable income and the fewest financial obligations.

• River cruising’s growth in popularity is unquestionably because of seniors, for the same reason, but also because older folks like us are more interested in history, lectures and less-strenuous (i.e. do-able) activities like climbing rock walls…is it because we’re weary of climbing the wall?

• The major cruise line best suited to retirees, they say, is Holland America. The ships are smaller, there are fewer “family-style” adventures and its reputation includes rules about lights out by nine (just kidding).

And there’s always a place on the mainstream, family-oriented cruise lines for seniors…and generally the prices are more reasonable. If you’re among the crowd that would prefer a big ship and a more sedate experience, here’s one small tip:

Go when the kids are in school.

Today at portsandbows.com: The latest in cruise news

Carnival Sensation
3 nights
October 30, 2014
Port Canaveral (return): Nassau
Inside: $189
Cost per day: $163

Ship Living an Option for Some Seniors

Watching aged relatives and friends wind down their final years in some type of assisted-living facility can be painful, and thought-provoking. Like, how do I want to spend my final years or months, to the extent that I have a choice?

And the quickest way to turn that macabre subject into something lighter is to answer it with:

“On a cruise ship.”

Ridiculous? Maybe.

Unthinkable? Maybe not.

Apparently, the cruise industry is studying “assisted-living cruising” as a niche market worth exploring.  For the ships, it means filling potentially empty beds. And for passengers?

Think about what a senior pays to live in an assisted-living facility.

Compare it to what a cruise costs. Chances are the difference, if there is one, is relatively small.

And look at the benefits:
• A good variety of fresh, quality food.
• Being able to see things out in the world that would otherwise be available only on TV.
• 24-hour medical facilities

It’s probably not as simple as we make it sound, but it’s do-able. It’s not for folks who require critical care but it could work for those who just can’t manage on their own and have the financial resources to (a) live in a facility or (b) go cruising.

On one of our cruises, we met a man who was in the midst of many cruises.

He was alone. A day later, he didn’t remember that we’d met. But every day he made new friends, even if they were repeaters. Socially, he was clearly having a good time. When he disembarked, his daughter was waiting to pick him up.

And take him to another cruise ship.

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