If you still think cruises are all about retired couples and shuffleboard, you’re hopelessly out of date. Today, cruise-goers can pick from a seemingly endless array of routes, dazzling ships and themes. Here are just a few notable options:
Point of Anchor: MSC Cruises; The Fantasia, Genoa, Italy: Recently launched by Italian movie star Sofia Loren, the Fantasia is the Paris Hilton of cruise ships; showy, glitzy and yet utterly glamorous. You should barely notice the 4,000-passenger capacity thanks to intimate yacht-like atmosphere. Leave your kids in the North Pole-themed playroom while you pamper yourself in the spa — the Q-Frequency machine that promises to wipe out cellulite, fat deposits and stretch marks.
Rock your boat: For a hefty upcharge per week, you’ll get the key to one of the 99 restricted VIP suites of the MSC yacht club. Order chilled Dom Perignon champagne from your personal butler and walk down the Swarovski crystal-studded corridors to one of the secluded hot tubs or private lounges.
All aboard: The Fantasia seven-day Mediterranean cruise leaves from the Italian port town of Genoa, stopping off the shores of Sicily, Tunisia, Spain and France.
Around the world
Point of Anchor: Cunard Cruises; The Queen Mary 2, New York: One of the last remaining old-school cruise liners is the lavishly built Queen Mary 2. You and the other 2,620 passengers will embark on a 106-day cruise around the world. Over the course of the journey, you’ll visit more than 15 maiden ports, anchoring off the shores of China or disembarking to sand-surf over the golden dunes of Dubai. You can also do a spot of surfing in Honolulu or haggle for jewelery in the bustling souk of Oman.
Rock your boat: The QM2 is a floating homage to its predecessor, the elegant QM1 cruise liner (which also carried troops throughout the Second World War). Drift back to another era as you enter the Grand Lobby, home of the largest ballroom floor at sea or by attending a performance at the Royal Court Theatre, whose shows rival ones in London’s West End.
All aboard: World Cruise from Jan. 12 to Apr. 29, 2010.
Diamond in the Sea
Point of Anchor: Fashion TV; The F-Diamond: Join the fashionistas on board Fashion TV’s new 140-metre yacht, the F-Diamond, which can cater to parties of up to 1,000. It’s not quite a front-row seat at a Chanel haute, couture show, but more of an excuse to gawp at scantily-clad catwalk models and not feel too bad about it. Hosting crazy fashion parties (which can be filmed for a post-party review) and skimpy bikini-shows, this is a cruise suited for people with a bit of a wild streak. Dance the night away on the upper deck, but save some adrenalin for the casino.
Rock your boat: Up to 50 international models compete onboard to become Miss FTV, and passengers can form part of the judging panel. Take it or leave it — this may be a one in a lifetime chance to be stranded in the middle of the ocean surrounded by 50 models.
All aboard: The F-TV cruise yacht makes interval stops at selected Mediterranean ports.
Eager for Egypt
Point of Anchor: Right Travel, Dahabeya Hadeel, Nile River, Egypt: Sail the turquoise waters of the River Nile on board the Dahabeya Hadeel. Discover the rich cultural heritage of Egypt whilst taking time to relax on the sailboat. Over the course of eight days, you’ll see many of Egypt’s most spectacular sights, including the Philae Temple, the Colossi of Memnom and the city of Edfu, where you’ll see the Temple of Horus.
Rock your boat: All these historical facts and sights may enrich your cultural knowledge, but at the end of the day, nothing really beats a bit of mindless fun. Hop off the sailboat and onto a camel or donkey when you stop off in El Kab one Egypt’s oldest cities.