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The Evolution of Cruise Ships, from 1975 to 2013: Onboard Activities

January 30, 2013 at 5:46 PM | by | ()

Imagine a cruise. Now picture yourself on that cruise. Are you playing shuffleboard and gobbling rum cakes? God, let's hope not. Over the next several days, we're going to dig back into the era responsible for creating these cruise stereotypes—the fun-in-the-sun 1970s, when ocean liners turned into cruise ships and voyages into vacations. In sharp contrast, we'll look at cruising 2013-style onboard the newest ship on the seas, the Celebrity Reflection.

The Cruising 1975 vs. 2013 Series:

1. Activities
2. Technology
3. Dining and drinking
4. Cabins and suites
5. The ships themselves

"We're getting weirder."

It's a phrase that's been popping up in print more and more often, in attempts to describe how modern interests are evolving faster than ever before. Sure, we have the internet and its constant stream of new information and influences to mostly thank for that. Instead of coffee, we're drinking macchiatos or requesting cups brewed through a Chemex. Instead of going out for a steak dinner, we're hungry for hamachi or sous-vide venison. We're getting weirder and, oh boy, do the cruise lines know it.

Want more examples? Let's go onboard. Where there was once a crowded shuffleboard court, there's now real grass lawns with space to spread out and play croquet or bocce (or even set up a picnic). Where there was once a cramped nightclub and a passenger talent show, there's now a tiered theatre with professionally choreographed Broadway revues. Leave your backgammon and cribbage sets home and instead bring your workout clothes for pilates and spinning classes.

We've personally been on a healthy amount of new ships, but the Celebrity Reflection is obviously the newest of the bunch as it only launched in late 2012, beginning its sailings in earnest this year. We've also been on a few of the ships from yesteryear, where skeet shooting was still an activity on the daily schedule, a Calypso band was the hottest evening entertainment, and sunbathing easily occupied half a day at sea because there wasn't much else to do.

Times, they are a-changing.

Still, some favorite cruise activities are here to stay. Will the world stop dancing or gambling or shopping? Nope, but the style in which it's done evolves and so too do the cruise venues for it. Check out more mod versus modern comparisons in the gallery above.

We hopped onboard the Reflection's quickie preview cruise as a guest of Celebrity, but all photos and opinions are completely our own.

[Photos and Scans: Cynthia Drescher]

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