The logical conclusion to "The more things change" more accurately should be
"the more things change."
When things change in the cruise world, it comes more in form of adding variation and nuance to the existing possibilities than in changing the status quo. So, for cruising one could logically say, "Things that change in the cruise industry are additive in nature, while much of what is best about cruising remains the same."
What is significantly changing in the cruise world? Every day cruising becomes more casual than it was in the past. People returning from NCL cruises are reporting with more than a hint of feigned bewilderment that the ships are officially permitting bluejeans in the dining room. But honestly, I haven't seen a person turned away from any cruise ship dining room due to a lack of appropriate attire in years, at least not in any anytime dining room on a contemporary ship.
At the same time, I was very surprised to see people dressed to the nines, in tuxedos and gowns, on Royal Caribbean's Freedom of the Seas, the largest and arguably most youth-targetted cruise ship in the world. Fortunately, I had the option of eating in a more casual restaurant instead of donning the tux I didn't even bring. It goes to show you that the old style of cruise tradition is still alive and well, for those who enjoy it. Obviously, that was a surprise to me for a ship with as much Gen-X appeal as Freedom of the Seas.
Carnival Cruise Director John Heald now runs a blog where he ruminates about his daily life aboard a cruise ship, and he was just recently named the "Sea Going Employee of the Year" by the Seatrade Organization. But we at CruiseMates have always known John was tops. We organized a group cruise to sail with him back in 2001; the "Testing Our Sanity with John Heald" cruise. John even tells us the he met his famous friend Dick Wooden on a CruiseMates cruise. Now, that is something to be proud of.
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When Renaissance Cruises went out of business in 2001, many of us thought that style we referred to it as "affordable luxury" -- smallish ships with understated decor and entertainment but a focus on great cuisine and port-intensive itineraries -- would also disappear. Instead we now have Oceania Cruises, Azamara Cruises and the smaller Pacific and Tahitian Princess ships which all picking up almost exactly where Renaissance left off.
And while cruising has become more casual and less regimented, with the option of "anytime, open-seating dining" not only on Princess but also now on Holland America, the elegance and comfort of these ships has imporved considerably. Look at the Signature of Excellence and Degrees of Difference programs completed on Halland America and Windstar Cruises, respectively. Today's ships may be more casual, but they haven't sacrificed the luxury one bit. They are plusher, softer, cozier and more comfortable than ever.
Celebrity Cruises just revealed that the cabins on the new Solstice class of ships (debut in late 2008) are thoroughly built with women in mind, having consulted a panel of five "Celebrity's Leading Ladies," specially selected for their distinct points of view. Among the design changes: staterooms will be 15% larger than previous Celebrity ships, showers are taller with jetted "bodywash" showerheads and have a footrail to aid in shaving legs, bathrooms have fog-free mirrors, bedstands have individual reading lights, the beds have more storage space below to accomodate larger suitcases and closets are now modular to accomodate whatever the passenger might bring.
So, the more things change the more things change, not only adding to the options on board almost every cruise ship sailing, but also adding new kinds of vessels to extend the variety even further.
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John Heald Blogger Cruise
Carnival Freedom, January 19, 2008.
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Carnival Freedom, Thanksgiving, 2007.
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