Culture, Cruising, and Senior Travel

I was recently speaking on a cruise traveling from Barcelona to Fort Lauderdale.  It was my first cruise ever and I was amazed at the sheer scale of moving thousands of people across the ocean with all of the amenities of home plus a lot of luxury mixed in. There were perhaps 2 to 1 senior travelers on the ship, and I was so happy to see that the senior travelers on the ship were very excited about the cultural day trips to various architectural and historical sites along the way. They also came regularly to my talks on “The Poetics of Cloth” and 4 other presentations on cloth.

What this meant as a first time cruiser was that seniors wanted to be engaged in learning, not only in the form of a podium event, but also in the form of experiential learning. I reflected on this for weeks after the cruise, and began to think of ways in which senior travel could be enhanced to amplify this phenomenon. Not only did the seniors want to learn (by the way, I just turned into one this year!), but they also wanted to be engaged in sharing their stories with others in a facilitated format. I believe everyone has a story to tell, and each and every one of the seniors were teachers to me while speaking about cloth.

Cruising is popular among seniors because you do not have to pack and unpack a million times, and move about from place to place. There are no stairs to climb, as there are elevators, and everything is right there just an elevator ride away. But there are other options for senior travel. Pauline Frommer writes:

One of the latest innovations in senior tours has been the creation of “hub-and-spoke itineraries,” a particular specialty of Grand Circle. Participants stay at just one or perhaps two hotels, which cuts down on the hassle of packing and unpacking. Days are filled with sightseeing, but also cross-cultural exchanges (visits to schools, dinner in locals’ homes, etc.), made possible by longer stays in the destination. The lure of unpacking just once draws high numbers of seniors to Mediterranean cruises, and a disproportionally large number to river cruises (which rarely see passengers born after the Beatles debuted).


Cruising and Senior Travel




Senior travel is changing with everything else in the cultural travel world. Seniors are curious, full of wonder, and eager to explore just like the rest of the population. Additionally, seniors have a wealth of knowledge to contribute to cultural travel. They, or rather we, bring a wealth of wisdom which spans decades. This translates into a meaningful exchange between cultures of the world. Read more about the European guided tour options for seniors here.


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