There is no doubt that the leisure and recreational activities once referred to as the art of travel have now become the travel and tourism industry, where capitalism is at its finest in the never-ending quest to explore and photograph every square inch of the planet and leave no stone unturned and no monument un-instagramed.
Of course, my favourite branch of the travel industry is cruising and I have taken a mere seven cruises in the last 5 ½ years.
You could say I’m hooked.
Whilst I am awfully fond of the ocean liners – I have just returned from 19 nights aboard Cunard’s Queen Mary 2 – I am not averse to taking a leisurely cruise through the canals and waterways of Europe at some stage in the future.
I am lucky enough to live on a port where the cruise ships berth in Melbourne and I delight in seeing them, almost on a daily basis, throughout the cruise season that has now stretched to almost 9 months of the year!
However this industry has grown immensely over recent years and in the 2014-2015 cruise season 77 vessels will visit Port Melbourne. Contrast this with the 16 vessel visits in 2004-2005 and you will see the eyes of the local business owners light up, let alone the cruise and tour operators.
In fact, history was made last November when 3 cruise ships berthed altogether for the Melbourne Cup where a mere 6,000 passengers boarded 130 coaches to head to the iconic annual horse race. Apparently these passengers were estimated to have injected more than $6 million into the Melbourne economy during their 3 day stay!
With money like this to be made through cruising alone, it seems this industry is not about to slow down any time soon.