Portcities Southampton
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People carriers

Cruising for pleasure

The vast expansion of air travel that began in the 1960s quickly made the conventional ocean passenger liner redundant.  Looking to find new uses for their expensive and often luxurious ships, their owners satisfied the growing market for pleasure cruises.  Cruising was by no means new, but had previously been only for the rich.  Now, a mass market was opening up, with a population having more money and leisure.

Retired passenger liners were not always suited to cruising.  The biggest were not able to visit some of the more interesting smaller ports as they were simply too deep-drafted.  In most passenger liners several classes of passenger were usually catered for, and the cheapest accommodation was not always attractive to someone making a voyage purely for pleasure.  Several old liners did establish excellent reputations as cruise ships, for example P&O’s Canberra and Uganda, the latter operating cruises for school children who were accommodated in the dormitory areas originally fitted when she was built as a troopship.  Some canny companies built ships for both cruising and regular liner voyages, Cunard’s Queen Elizabeth 2 being notably successful.  However, it increasingly became the purpose-built cruise ship that dominated this large market.

Built to cruise

Designers of cruise ships have vied with one another to make their ships ever more grand and enticing.  Public rooms, such as restaurants and theatres, have become more spacious.  There have been theme bars, gymnasiums, and facilities for children.  All cabins have outside windows, and as many as possible have balconies.  Boats are provided not just for life-saving in the event of an emergency, but also to carry passengers ashore for excursions in ports where it is not possible for the ship to go alongside a quay.

Modern cruise ships are driven by oil engines, but are rarely as powerful as the old passenger liners.  Speed is not a priority on a pleasure cruise.  With cabins getting larger, however, the ships are certainly as big as the largest liners that plied on the North Atlantic