In Huddersfield, where I grew up, a town-centre department store boasted a ‘cruise wear’ section. In the window display the gentleman dummies wore deck shoes, starched white shorts and flannel jackets, while the ladies struck elegant poses and held designer sunglasses in their slender moulded hands. In Huddersfield, the opportunities to flaunt such clothes were limited. The shop closed down, but for as long as it existed it provided a vision of continental chic and luxury living, nestled between Burger King and the Polish mini-mart.
Cruising is no longer an exclusive activity: even a half-hearted search on the internet throws up dozens of companies offering thousands of departures to hundreds of destinations. If there’s water, they go there, be it ocean, sea, lake, loch, fjord or river.