AARP Eye Center
Cruise ships are on a mission to recapture the seas. The COVID pandemic forced cruise lines to pull their ships into port, but now that health concerns have eased, passengers are returning. They are finding an industry reborn.
As a longtime travel journalist, I have been on 170 ships, and I have seen how cruise lines can engage in a hospitality arms race. Before the pandemic struck, many new megaships were already on order, but the delay in launching means that 2023 will feel even more momentous for the industry. Come with us as we look at the crazy-huge world of cruises.
AARP Membership — $12 for your first year when you sign up for Automatic Renewal
Get instant access to members-only products and hundreds of discounts, a free second membership, and a subscription to AARP The Magazine.
Making big ships feel less big
There’s an interesting paradox about megaships. The extreme sizes mean that cruise lines can add more and more things to do, but at some point, ships may become too large for passengers to easily enjoy. And so Royal Caribbean has divided its Icon of the Seas ship, to launch next year, into eight “neighborhoods,” the idea being that you choose the section that suits your interests and mostly stay in that area. One neighborhood caters to families with children, for example, while another is meant for young singles and couples.
Carnival Cruise Line has “adults-only spaces,” where passengers can enjoy some peace and quiet around hot tubs, pools and bars, away from the family crowd.
Broadway shows and ways to play onstage
The old Las Vegas–style revues are long gone. Now singers and dancers recruited from Broadway and London’s West End appear in slightly truncated versions of Broadway shows such as Summer: The Donna Summer Musical, which on the Norwegian Prima morphs into a big disco party with the audience.
Daytime entertainment likewise has been updated. While the old belly flop and hairy chest contests are out, a replacement has emerged: On Carnival’s Mardi Gras and its sister ships, you can watch — or play! — Family Feud Live.