A passenger enjoys the Ripcord by iFLY, a skydiving simulator, on the Royal Caribbean International's Quantum of the Seas.
A passenger enjoys the Ripcord by iFLY, a skydiving simulator, on the Royal Caribbean International's Quantum of the Seas. Roy Riley / sbw-photo

The next big thing in travel for 2017

IF YOU ask me what the Next Big Thing is in travel for 2017 (and I know you haven't asked but I'll give an opinion anyway), it has to be cruising.

Yes, we all know cruising has soared in popularity over the past few years: ocean cruising, river cruising, canal cruising, they are all popular.

The reasons for this are obvious: the inclusive price, the unpack-once-only scenario, the ease of getting from one place to another...all incentives to go a-sailing.

It seems we cannot go a day without an announcement about the arrival of a bigger, better and more technologically advanced ship than the one before which was already the biggest, best, most technologically advanced ship in the world.

It's extraordinary.

If we keep going at this rate there will be no room left on the seas as these giants of the ocean surge through the waters dwarfing everything else afloat, even small countries.

We can now be at sea, way out in the vastness of the deep ocean, and go surfing, rock climbing, fox flying, sky diving, dodgem car riding, even trapeze flying - all while having a martini made at Robotic Bionic Bar (whatever that is) and then have Jamie Oliver (or one of his celebrity counterparts) prepare a menu for us in a swish restaurant bearing his name.

It's all a little exhausting.

While I don't exactly yearn for the old days when cruising meant an eight week slow journey from Australia to England with a 'trunk' packed full of glamorous evening wear, and stopping in exotic ports where swarthy men in robes and turbans spat betel juice on the ground, I do miss the glorious anticipation that 'going to sea' always brought on.

I first sailed off to sea in 1965 on a ship called the Angelina Lauro.

An Italian ship, crewed by 300 Italians all with an eye for a young women wearing a mini skirt was what I was greeted with when I walked up the gangplank one August morning in Melbourne. Having 300 Italian Lotharios after you made for an interesting eight weeks at sea.

The only entertainment on board then (apart from fending off randy Italians) was a three-piece band who would play a few tunes from the 1950s followed by a singalong involving a song embracing the many charms of the Angelina Lauro (something about Angelina, You're The Queen of All the Sea.)

It was excitement enough for us at the time.

Two years later I left the UK to sail on another ship, The Southern Cross, where I met a dashing officer on board, and spent the seven-week crossing from England to Australia falling in love.

No-one could have asked for a more romantic backdrop to fall in love: balmy nights on the deck looking at the stars, ports of call in the South Pacific, but then the heart-wrenching time for me to disembark in Melbourne and for him to sail on.

Eight months later, he was back in Australia in Sydney for a days where a hasty marriage was arranged at the Mission to Seamen with a wedding reception on the Captain's bridge followed by me sailing off with him into the sunset.

It was on to giant oil tankers my dashing officer husband was promoted to sail the world - with me as an officer's wife for the next seven years.

What a privilege, what adventures all over the globe, even though the only entertainment on board those giant oil tankers was a game of cards in the officers mess every night.

But how things have looked up. Now you can look forward to much more sophisticated entertainment on board Ovation of the Seas (pictured) as she is the world's fourth largest ship. She sailed into Sydney earlier this month to make the city her home port for the season.

She will complete eight round trips to New Zealand and the South Pacific - so happy days ahead - and enjoy the Robotic Bionic Bar.

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