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Sail the heaven seas: fun for the young!

By: Eugene Yiga | 12 Dec 2012 09:13
"As long as it's not one of those cruises for people over 60" was the first thing a friend of mine said when I mentioned my holiday plans. Like many people, he believes that cruises are for senior citizens who sail around the world doing aqua aerobics and playing bingo because there's nothing else to do between retirement and death. But four nights on the glorious MSC Sinfonia convinced me that cruises aren't just a slow break for the elderly; they offer plenty of fun for young people too!
First on the list has to be the range of entertainment. And aside from several themed bars as well as a new theatre production every night, a popular option is the disco. Soon after the Pasha Club opened at 11pm, it filled up with people out of nowhere! And even a guy like me, who's not particularly fond of spending nights in loud clubs listening to music about nights in loud clubs, couldn't help but get into it.

I like the fact that there's more than enough room on the dance floor (in case you manage to drink just enough to offset the motion of the ocean); seating areas for when you want a break; and plenty of space outside to enjoy the fresh sea breeze. I left at about 1am on the first night but the party was just getting started. Apparently the music from DJ Black Sparrow went on until sunrise!

Copyright (C) MSC Cruises

Copyright (C) MSC Cruises

You can always find something to eat

The only way to keep the party going is to fill up on food. And man is there a lot to eat! I particularly liked the more formal sit-down dinners, where I enjoyed tasty Mediterranean cuisine and fine Italian wine, but the ship has four restaurants so there are causal options too. For example, if you aren't too fussed about gourmet food or don't want to be bound by fixed restaurant hours, the buffets on deck go on pretty much all day. That means you can always find something to eat (or simply have breakfast delivered to your cabin) no matter how late you wake up or how late you get to bed. And who can deny the appeal of authentic Italian pizza at midnight in case you want to load up on carbs for the club or need a snack to help you sleep? #yum

Of course, there's a real risk that all this food could result in you departing as a passenger and returning as freight. Luckily for young travellers who maintain an active lifestyle, there are several sporting activities and fitness facilities to offset the guilt from all you can eat. In addition to the open-air 200m jogging track, a sports centre lets you play tennis, basketball, volleyball, and five-a-side football. And let's not forget about the fully-equipped gym, where getting lost in the 180-degree ocean view might lead to the sighting of some dolphins or seals.

Copyright (C) MSC Cruises

Copyright (C) MSC Cruises

Value for money

The best part about going on a cruise as a young traveller is the cost. Even though there's so much on offer, this is actually one of the most affordable options for a holiday. "Cruising is becoming a vacation of choice because it offers value for money," cruise director Stephen Cloete said. "Very few other options are a fully-inclusive package where you pay one price that covers all your accommodation, entertainment, and food."

More than that, very few options let you pay for two and bring two more for free! In other words, a group of four travellers aged between 18 and 35 will effectively pay half price to share their four-berth cabin. Sure, the suite won't necessarily be as luxurious as the one I stayed in (private balcony, high-definition TV, enough cupboard space to categorise each type of sock), but the low cost coupled with the fact that you hardly spend time in the cabin anyway still makes it worthwhile.

Copyright (C) MSC Cruises

Copyright (C) MSC Cruises

Plenty of ways to take it easy

All in all, I'm convinced that cruising is the perfect holiday for young travellers, many of whom are making this the fastest growing travel sector in the world. No, the cruise I went on wasn't a purely "party" boat - Noot 4 Noot, anyone? - but there are a number of themed ones, like Oh Ship with DJ Fresh and Euphonik, that cater specifically to younger demographics.

Personally, I'd prefer what I went on to a non-stop party because there are plenty of ways to take it easy when you inevitably need a break from all the fun. For example, you can enjoy the cocktail of the day while reading a book by the pool (checked out from the small on-board library in case you actually finish the ones you bring yourself) or listen to live classical music while you catch up on what's happening back home. Perhaps the fact that I had such a great time but still came back more relaxed than I've felt in ages just goes to show that even young people need to act like senior citizens every now and then!

MSC Cruises is the largest privately owned cruising company in the world. The current South African season, on board the Sinfonia and the Opera, runs until April 2013 and includes special trips for Christmas and New Year. You can begin your search or go to for more. Bon voyage!

About Eugene Yiga

Eugene Yiga is lifestyle writer and arts journalist in Cape Town. He writes about travel, leisure, food, wine, marketing, media, TV, film, music, theatre, books, and more for over 30 different websites, newspapers, and magazines. Follow @eugeneyiga on Twitter or email to say, um, hello.
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