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Cruising in Alaska

Cruising is an increasingly popular form of travel, particularly with older people. The modern luxury ships make long journeys very comfortable but the time spent at the ports of call is relatively short. In most cases, passengers enjoy no more than eight or ten hours ashore before returning to the ship and moving on.

The short time available to explore means that excursions have to be organized in advance and in many cases passengers choose to join a trip organized by the cruise company via local agents. For photographers, this means that opportunities to create good images are severely limited. Passengers are moved around in groups, often by private bus, and have little free time to go their own way. Cruising is arguably the most extreme example of mass tourism so far devised, with large cruise ships carrying 4,000 - 6,000 passengers, but of course the experience can be enjoyable and comfortable.

Cruise ship foyerFor example, a visit to Rome made on a cruise is unlikely to produce worthwhile images of famous locations such as the Colosseum. The visitor is typically surrounded not only by the normal crowds of tourists but also numerous coach loads of passengers from their own cruise ship, and possibly half a dozen others (an additional countless thousands of people spread across the sights of Rome). The visit is also made, at the convenience of the shipping line and local agents, to fit in with the ship's schedule. No consideration can or will be made for the best time of day for the passengers - never mind the available light!

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