Deborah Stone is an award-winning writer and cruise travel expert
Q. Which ships are the nearest to Ocean Village in their relaxed, informal atmosphere?
A. Many cruise fans mourned the passing of Ocean Village when its two ships sailed off Down Under in 2010 to become Pacific Pearl and Pacific Jewel for P&O Cruises Australia. The Aussie approach to cruises would probably suit your desire for informality, but if a trip to the other side of the world is out of the question then the closest in terms of atmosphere is probably Thomson Cruises. Island Escape, for example, prides itself on being laid-back and is all-inclusive as well – so you don’t even have to worry about bar bills. It’s also worth a look at MSC Cruises where the laid-back Italian way of life is celebrated. Their newer ships, like MSC Preziosa, have adopted an Italian “slow food” style of eating. Also look at P&O Cruises where there are some casual dining options if you don’t want to dress up for the formal nights. And if you don’t fancy changing at all, perhaps an expedition cruise is for you? Choose an Arctic or Antarctic one and you can even wear a fleece to dinner.