CHARLES GRAHAM - Hmmm... a long cruise, or the long snooze?

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THEY are unaffordable to many, others regard them disdainfully as “Butlins on water,” but the holiday cruise is a thriving industry even in the midst of recession.

In fact a record 1.7 million Britons went on one last year, possibly in a bid to get away from yet another summer of awful weather.

They certainly have their attractions: themed, restaurants, beauty spas, round-the-clock entertainment, children’s clubs, swimming pools...and all within walking distance of your bedroom while usually in a part of the world blessed by large amounts of sunshine.

Of course there are downsides too, not least seasickness, cabin fever and those occasions when there is an outbreak of some bug that leaves everyone confined to their quarters for days on end.

I’ve never had the pleasure, but the majority of folk who have taken to the high seas for a week or two – whether they have stayed aboard for the duration or stepped ashore to see the exotic sites whenever possible – have had a pretty good time.

My uncle, who is a retired accountant, told me recently that he had been doing some maths as older age looms ahead and he considers his options.

He has worked out that it these days costs so much to go into a decent old folk’s home when you are no long fit to look after yourself that it actually works out cheaper to go on a permanent world cruise!

Liners are equipped with all the facilities that someone needing quite a lot of care – including medical attention – could ask for. They even have a morgue if the worst happens!

So if you are forced to splash out £1,000 a week on care in your dotage, perhaps you’d be much better off lording it round the Med rather than slumped in a Shackleton’s high-seat chair watching endless daytime telly and drizzle running down the window.