Many experts like to predict the future of the cruise industry in both the short and the long term. Some focus on passenger numbers and destination trends while others veer toward the cruise line's new ships and their on board innovations.
One thing is for certain, we all like to read about what may be coming next, but why do we only think of ocean cruising in one way? There are many ways to visit the world by sea besides the most popular cruise vessels.
One example would be private yachting, once a holiday for only the rich and famous. These days you can charter one of these marvellous crewed vessels for almost the same price as one week on board a super liner. Sleeping up to 10 guests, one company on the net are offering a Rodman 41 for 6 days, carrying 6 people for £1500 per person. It costs even less if you can make the numbers up to 10! That's fully crewed and includes the fuel. And the best bit... you get to choose your itinerary! Granted you won't get the varied entertainment, choice of restaurants and the kids clubs but its certainly an interesting choice.
Another alternative, and probably the more fascinating, is what i like to call the 'cruise timeshare' - or as most know it; the residential cruise line.
Up until 5 years ago, they didn't exist but then along came the first, The World. This is the only one of its kind currently in operation but there are 4 more in the pipeline. (I've listed these and their web links at the end of the article)
The main idea is to own an apartment in a floating resort that constantly sails the globe but you don't need to own one outright to benefit. Depending on the ship, there are several options available: full ownership, partial or shared ownership and short period rentals for those that want to experience the ship as a holiday maker.
On The World you can expect to pay anything between $1,200 to $4,200 a night, with a minimum stay of six nights. Not exactly affordable to most but then that's the whole point isn't it? Being part of something exclusive.
I'm pretty sure that once more of these residential ships are built, as with anything we will see the prices drop dramatically. In the meantime i think I'll stick to traditional cruising.