Cruise lines don’t quite know what to do about their image problem. In their headlong rush to appeal to the “new-to-cruise” market, they still rely on impressions of an era we left behind decades ago.
Downton Abbey is a theme that has become closely associated with travel by liner, cruise ship and even river boat. Their relationship is as close as clotted cream and jam is with scones for a posh afternoon tea. You just can’t have one without the other.
The TV series – which, let’s not forget, opened with the heir to the Earl of Grantham perishing on the Titanic – has been sponsored on ITV by P&O Cruises, and in America by Viking River Cruises. Viking have also sponsored a Help for Heroes event that took place at Highclere Castle – the Berkshire location used as Downton Abbey, and their extended excursion programme for American guests includes tours of the castle.
Crystal has a similar event – a July sailing next year offers transport by chauffeur-driven 1920s cars, a tour of the estate, and lunch at the castle with waitresses in period costume. Wood-panelled walls, sweeping staircases, and luxuriant leather furnishings are integral parts of the decor on all manner of cruise ships, and they are redolent of the Edwardian era inhabited by Titanic and the Granthams.
You can read the rest of Captain Greybeard’s article in the December 2014 / January 2015 issue which is available now. If you aren’t a subscriber then click here to sign up here. You can also find back issues available here.