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But there are a number of aspects that are higher priorities to us seniors than to our younger shipmates: 1.
Douglas Ward has been on over 1,000 cruises, and is considered the worlda€™s leading expert on cruising.
Flexibility and choice are what this mid-sized shipa€™s dining facilities are all about.a€? The Club Restaurant has 338 seats, and includes a large raised central section. The 345-seat Cabaret Lounge has a stage, and circular hardwood dance floor with banquette and individual tub chair seating.
Costa Classica is a contemporary cruise ship with a range of entertainment for young couples and families. Although the ship has an excellent range of public rooms, lounges and bars, the interior is perhaps best described as an innovative design project that almost works. This ship is all about Britishness and will be comfortingly familiar for families with children who want to travel and take their British traditions and food with them. There are several different cabin grades, designated as: suites with private balcony, mini-suites with private balcony, outside-view twin-bedded cabin with balcony, outside-view twin bedded cabin and interior twin-bedded cabins. There are two principal asymmetrically designed dining-rooms, Adriatic and Ligurian, each seating about 500, located just off the two lower levels of the four-deck-high atrium lobby. There are two show lounges a€“ Footlights Theatre, and Starlights a€“ one forward, and one aft.
Itinerary choice has a greater degree of importance to us since we've already traveled to many destinations.
The value for money is extremely good, and it gives you with a chance to cruise in comfort aboard a mid-sized ship with some interesting dining choices. All of the standard interior (no view) and outside-view cabins (the lowest four grades) are extremely tight for two persons, particularly for cruises longer than seven days. It is not large, and not really designed for production shows, so cabaret acts form the main focus, with mini-revue style shows presented by a troupe of resident singers and dancers in a potted version of what you might experience aboard the large ships of Princess Cruises.Inevitably, art auctions and bingo are pushed almost daily. These include 10 suites, while other cabins are fairly standard in size, shape, and facilities, a higher price being asked for cabins on the highest decks. There is 93,000 sq ft (8,600 sq m) of open deck space and a wide, teakwood walk-around promenade deck outdoors. Although the standard outside-view and interior cabins are a little small, they are well designed and functional in layout, and have earth tone colours accentuated by splashes of colour from the bedspreads.Many of the outside-view cabins have private balconies, and all have good soundproofing, although the balcony partition is not of the floor-to-ceiling type, so you can hear your neighbours clearly.
Footlights is a superb 550-seat, theatre-style showlounge, for production shows and theatre events; movies can also be shown here. This restaurant is operated in two seatings.a€? The Lido Cafe has seating for 154 indoors and 186 outdoors. All suites and cabins have twin lower beds, colour television, and telephone.In general, the cabins are of a fairly generous size, and are laid out in a practical manner. The selection of bread rolls, fruits and cheeses is disappointing.Excellent cappuccino and espresso coffees are always available in various bars, served in the right-sized china cups.
A great amount of glass area on the upper decks provides plenty of light and connection with the outside world. Balconies are very narrow a€“ just large enough for two small chairs a€“ and there is no lighting. Each has its own galley, and is split into multi-tier sections, which help create a feeling of intimacy, although there is much noise from waiter stations adjacent to many tables.
Starlights is a 480-seat cabaret-style lounge with bar.Therea€™s a big emphasis on a decent quality of entertainment. My first trip to Europe was aboard SS Independence in 1962, and I returned home at the end of the summer on SS France.
Ocean Princess is much more about relaxation than the larger ships in the fleet, and would make a good child-free vessel.The interior decor is stunning and elegant, a throwback to ship decor of the ocean liners of the 1920s and a€™30s.
While not overly large, the bathrooms have a good-sized bathtub and ample space for storing personal toiletries.The 10 Ownera€™s Suites are the most spacious accommodation, and are fine, large living spaces located in the forward-most and aft-most sections of the accommodation decks.
It is the shipa€™s self-serve buffet restaurant (24 hours a day), and incorporates a small pizzeria and grill. It has some high-tech muscle-toning equipment and treadmills, steam rooms (no sauna), changing areas for men and women, and a beauty salon with ocean views.A lido deck has a swimming pool, and good sunbathing space, while one of the aft decks has a thalassaotherapy pool.
The ship underwent a few changes to make it more user-friendly for British passengers, although it does look tired in places.There is a wide range of public rooms, with several intimate rooms and spaces, so that you dona€™t feel overwhelmed by large spaces. Open-seating breakfast and lunch are provided, while dinner is in two seatings.The cuisine is decidedly British a€“ sometimes adventurous, but always with plenty of curry dishes and other standard British comfort food dishes.
Therea€™s a resident group of actors, singers, and dancers who provide theatre-style presentations including cut-down versions of well-known musicals.
Also important are the quality and quantity of enrichment programs available onboard to keep our brains active in retirement. The suites have much more space (although they are not large by any means), and hand-woven bedspreads.Some cabins have one or two extra pull-down (Pullman-style) berths a€“ useful for families with small children. However, being aboard will give you an opportunity to try some of the more exotic treatments, particularly some of the massages.
The interior focal point is a four-deck-high atrium lobby with winding, double stairways and two panoramic glass-walled lifts.The artwork is pleasant, particularly on the stairways, and helps make the ship feel smaller than it is. Dona€™t expect exquisite dining a€“ this is unpretentious British hotel catering that is attractive and tasty, with some excellent gravies and sauces to accompany meals, and desserts that are always decent.
In addition, the ship features an array of cabaret acts who regularly travel the cruise ship circuit. Cover charge applies.a€? The Sterling Steakhouse is an a€?American steak housea€?, has 98 seats.

The Monte Carlo Club Casino, while large, is not in the main passenger flow and so does not generate the walk-through factor found aboard so many ships. The Nightclub, with forward-facing views, sits high in the ship and has Polynesian-inspired decor and furniture.The Library, a grand room, is designed in the Regency style by the Scottish interior designer John McNeece, and has a fireplace, a high, indented, trompe la€™oeil ceiling, and an excellent selection of books, plus some comfortable wingA­back chairs with footstools, and sofas you can easily fall asleep on.
There is also a large Card Room, which incorporates an Internet Centre, with eight stations.In order to keep the prices low, the air routing to get to and from your ship is often not the most direct.
Cover charge applies.BarsThere are plenty of bars a€“ including one in the entrance to each of the restaurants. Each of these suites a€“ Oronsay, Orcades, Orion, Orissa, Orsova, Orontes (all P&O ships of yesteryear) has a large balcony. At night, this venue (with two food lines) is transformed into an informal dinner setting with sit-down waiter service.
Expect to be subjected to flyers advertising daily art auctions, a€?designera€™ watches and other promotions. Therea€™s an electronic golf simulator a€“ no need to bring your own clubs.FamiliesChildren have their own Treasure Chest (for ages 2a€“5), The Hideout (for ages 6a€“9), and for older children (10a€“13) there is The Buzz Zone. The bedroom has wood accenting and detailing, indented ceilings, and TV sets in both bedroom and lounge areas, which also have a dining-room table and four chairs.
P&O Cruises provides plenty of staff to look after the children, and many activities to keep them occupied. We may have mobility or health issues, so top-notch medical care and accessible ships are more likely to be high on our list.
The Best Ships for Itinerary Choice Scenic Cruising The Issue: For many of us, relaxing on deck, on our balconies or in observation lounges and watching incredible scenery pass right by our noses is a favorite aspect of cruising -- especially for those seniors who aren't as mobile as they once were. Others are still quite active and get off the ship at every opportunity but enjoy the moving panorama between shore experiences, as well. In either case, to satisfy both types of seniors, these scenic itineraries are best when situated close to shore so that the wildlife, edifices and natural beauty can be easily seen and enjoyed. No wonder Alaska, the North Cape and river cruises are such popular scenic itineraries for seniors. Here, by region and type of ship, are our picks for cruises in places where scenery is king.
Their historic connections give them clout in securing coveted permits to enter Glacier Bay National Park, and a higher percentage of their sailings include this iconic locale. Some offer twice-daily jaunts by Zodiac right up to the faces of calving glaciers and salmon-fishing bears. On the slightly more sedate "heritage" sailings, passengers can scope out wildlife through binoculars up on the bridge.
Onboard cuisine relies heavily on the freshest locally procured meats and seafood, meals are communal, and a great sense of camaraderie quickly develops among passengers, naturalists and crew. Hurtigruten ships are a combination of cruise ship, car ferry, mail ship and cargo carrier.
On a typical one-week cruise, passengers can expect to make more than 35 port calls as the ship wends its way up and down the most scenic and remote fjords, picking up and dropping off motorists, packages, mail and point-to-point passengers at tiny towns and villages seldom reached by other forms of transportation. While the "ferry" passengers do not have sleeping accommodations, full-fledged cruise passengers will find cabins and amenities much like those on conventional ships. Hurtigruten also has a unique system of shore excursions, where you disembark at one town's pier, take a tour and meet up with the ship four hours and three port calls later! Given that these ships sail nearly year-round, getting that great perspective from an outside deck is often not the best solution, especially in the middle of a European winter. Instead, you'll want to have a great point of view from your own cabin, and that's why we recommend sister ships AmaPrima and AmaCerto.
The majority of cabins on these ships have French balconies with floor-to-ceiling sliding-glass doors, and some cabins even have true balconies in addition to the French balconies. For instance, plenty of cruise lines go to Australia and New Zealand, but Lindblad will take you to destinations you hardly knew existed: the Kimberley (extreme Northwest Australia) and its bizarre Horizontal Waterfalls of Talbot Bay, the Islands of the Torres Straits, Papua New Guinea, New Zealand's sub-Antarctic Islands, and the McMurdo Sound and Ross Sea regions of the far western edge of the Antarctic continent. One nice touch is the dedicated mud room on several ships, where passengers returning from a hike on a Galapagos island or a trek across the Antarctic snowpack can be comfortably seated at dedicated boot-washing stations and step out squeaky clean without lifting a finger.
The naturalist exploration leaders are knowledgeable and personable, and the spa services, though limited in number, are superior in quality. On Queen Mary 2, which does the majority of transatlantic crossings for the line, the Illuminations Lounge has a full-scale planetarium. And, like the ocean liners of the "Golden Age," the ship has an ambiance of subdued class and refinement that will appeal strongly to seniors at the upper end of the age spectrum.
Onboard, spend a week sailing America's Archipelago, with overnight calls in Maui and Kauai and a nighttime sail-by of the spectacular lava falls spilling from active volcano Kilahuea. Normandy is Mecca for World War II vets: a place you have to visit at least once in your life. Along the beaches of Normandy, there's an incredible wealth of places to visit: the D-Day Museum, Omaha and Gold Beaches and, above all, the overwhelmingly moving American Military Cemetery on the bluffs over the landing beaches, with its acres of white marble crosses flanking tranquil reflecting pools and touching, symbolic statuary.
Uniworld's River Baroness has an entire deck of French balconied cabins, and the cruise line tops many "Best" lists for upscale river cruising, as its food and service are excellent, and quality local entertainers are brought onboard regularly. Viking's 15-night cruisetour from Hanoi to Ho Chi Minh City (Saigon) fits the bill perfectly. It includes visits to the notorious "Hanoi Hilton" prison, Angkor Wat, Phnom Penh and other important sites in Cambodia on several included tours during nine nights spent cruising the Mekong River. The ship, built in 2002 but refurbished in 2013, carries an intimate group of 56 passengers, all in river-view cabins. Best for Enrichment Opportunities The Issue: In large numbers, we seek more from our days at sea than a comfy chaise and a drink with an umbrella.

The reason is simple: nothing makes us feel younger than learning a new skill, gaining knowledge or even perfecting a dance step.
In fact, many scientists believe that the brain is like a muscle, and challenging it keeps it tuned-up. Computer classes include Photoshop, HTML and Web design, as well as lessons on fine-tuning your digital photography skills. Another partnership with Rosetta Stone lets passengers study foreign languages during their cruises. Celebrity Solstice and Equinox feature the Hot Glass Experience, a live demonstration of museum-quality glass-blowing by experts from the Corning Glass Museum; demonstrations take place several times daily. For that reason, it attracts numerous affluent senior passengers who dislike dress codes and set dinner seatings but still insist on the very best on their cruises.
Best Ships for Solo Cruising The Issue: Whether by choice or our personal circumstances, we may find ourselves traveling solo.
Since the world of cruising is almost entirely geared toward couples, going it alone can be costly, logistically difficult, and, in a world full of pairs, lonely.
Norwegian has come up with a fabulous idea, now on three of its ships: the studio cabin, each accommodating just one passenger and requiring no additional supplemental charge for passage. Though Norwegian asserts that the studios attract a wide age range, the teeny cabins with their hip decor and colored lights are probably a better choice for seniors at the younger end of the age spectrum. The ships themselves have loads of great amenities, including more than 20 dining options and plenty of entertainment options including jazz and comedy clubs, full-length Broadway plays, The Blue Man Group, and Cirque Dreams, depending on which ship you choose. Many activities -- such as culinary demonstrations, wine-tastings and enrichment programs -- don't require partners. Team events like trivia or "Name That Tune" give solo passengers an opportunity to be part of a group.
We have also found the piano bars on Holland America ships to be particularly engaging for senior passengers, offering a show tunes- and standards-heavy repertoire. It's not unusual to find show lounge performers hanging out between or after show times and joining the passengers in sing-alongs. The camaraderie makes these venues great for those who are traveling alone and seeking an entertaining, convivial and companionable lounge for after-dinner drinks. Lastly, on voyages of more than 30 nights, Holland America provides gentleman dance hosts for single ladies. Everyone with even the slightest flexibility in travel dates should be able to find a single cabin sans supplement. Antoinette because it has unique cabin designs, including suites with glassed-in alcoves that can be changed to full balconies with the push of a button! From rock-climbing walls to ice-skating rinks and onboard zip lines (Oasis and Allure), these ships are unique.
The Royal Promenade has the same cachet for kids as does a suburban mall, with the added dollop of nightly parades and celebrations. Plus, Royal Caribbean pioneered the concept of "family staterooms," multiroom suites that can accommodate up to eight passengers with two separate bedrooms, each with its own bath.
The ships offer the usual pastiche of team trivia and other group games, as well as computer, photography and dance classes. A variety of entertainment offerings, from Broadway musicals and water acrobatics shows to comedy and jazz, will please most any taste. The one thing you can say with certainty about the gurus in the Disney boardroom is they aren't dopey; that's why these ships have adults-only areas, including adults-only lounges, pools and restaurants.
Families can enjoy formal dinners together in three themed restaurants; we'll enjoy the varied menus, while the kids are entertained with animated decor and character visits.
Another nice touch for seniors is the Disney-built cruise port in Castaway Cay, the line's private island, which offers a deepwater pier that eliminates the need for tendering.
Oh sure, we may still play tennis, but it's highly unlikely we'll jump over the net at the end of the set. Our mobility issues run the gamut from a minor reduction in how far we can comfortably walk or climb to serious disabilities. We may also have other health issues, ranging from dietary restrictions to regular treatment for chronic conditions. We also awarded points to Voyager, Freedom and Oasis classes for the Royal Promenade, effectively a wide, horizontal atrium, which we think is more wheelchair-friendly than a traditional, vertically stacked central atrium.
In addition, these ships -- as well as all other Royal Caribbean ships and those of sister lines Azamara and Celebrity -- have an affiliation with Cleveland Clinic of Weston, Florida, for online consultation. Most cruise lines have the ability to consult ship-to-shore in real time, but an ongoing relationship with a land-based medical facility reduces logistical delays and functions smoothly with familiar, practiced protocols. A helicopter landing is preferred to lowering a rescue basket from a hovering chopper because it's quicker, safer (you can get a severe shock from the static electrical charge that builds up in the dangling cable) and easier (it's tricky keeping a basket stable as it's raised to the hovering helicopter). This unique system was enough to win us over on the mobility front, since not being able to leave the ship in tender ports is the height of frustrating, imprisoning confinement.
Holland America also has a working relationship with the University of Texas Medical Branch in Galveston for telemedical connections and live radiology feeds and consults. Other senior-pleasing aspects of these ships include the choice of "As You Wish" dining (open seating) or traditional set seatings, outstanding performances of classic Broadway show tunes and one of the largest collections of classic art of any ship afloat.

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