Friday, June 17, 2011

See You on the Lido Deck!

As we are getting ready to for our summer vacation and Baltic Cruise next week, my thoughts of course swing back to the vintage age of cruising. Previously ocean travel was a means to an end. Primarily used as a means of transport before aviation took over, the industry has changed. Now it is not the destination that counts but the ship itself. This is even reflected in the fact that ships are no longer called Ocean Liners, but Cruise Ships.

Previously, because of weather (especially on the transatlantic run) few Ocean Liners had large outdoor deck spaces or even swimming pools. Pools were allocated to spaces deep in the bowels of a ship, and the lido deck was virtually non-existent!

Think lido deck today and we are cast back to re-runs of “The Love Boat” or the huge multi-pooled and crowded decks of modern cruise ships.

However during the 1930’s and right through to the 1960’s one European line went to great pains in promoting the outdoor spaces and particularly the Lido decks of their liners.

The Italian line which plied the Southern route through the Mediterranean which was much warmer than the Northern route serviced by other companies, had huge outdoor spaces and pools on their liners.

Always glamorous by day or by evening, this was a major selling point of the line. Instead of being cooped up inside on the Northern Atlantic, one could spend the 5 days at sea, sunning and swimming on the lido deck around the pool.

Nights were also spent outside, with couples in their elegant evening wear dancing or engaging in tete a tete’s around the pool.

This tradition on the Italian Line carried right through until the late 1960’s until the jet airliner eclipsed ocean travel completely.

As we embark on our cruise, I will definitely be thinking of those sun filled days and star filled nights spent on the Lido deck of an Italian liner!

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