Isn’t language an amazing thing? Whether we realize it or not, it is a living thing that adapts to its surroundings to reflect the era it occupies, within which, words are used to convey certain concepts and ideas and like all other living things it is wonderfully flawed. Words that originally meant one thing, end up, over time, meaning exactly the opposite for reasons that still perplex linguists. A perfect example (among many) is the word ‘awful’ whose original meaning used to be ‘worthy of awe’ as in ‘the awful majesty of God’. Fast forward to today and it means quite the opposite.
I wonder therefore what etymologists would have to say about the word ‘adventure’ which can often conjure up, when used in the context of ‘adventure travel’, images of fit twenty-somethings, kayaking down an Amazonian tributary; hiking some precipitous trail in Nepal or just generally living outside of their comfort zone. The dictionary definition of ‘adventure’ describes ‘Adventure’ as ‘an unusual and exciting or daring experience’. Think about those three words for a moment: unusual, exciting and daring. There are quite a few experiences that one can have in life that would fit those definitions without having to put your life in peril; be in peak physical condition or even be under 30.
There are loads of experiences that can be had, that fall within the general ‘adventure travel’ category but could not be more removed from the initial images or perceptions that come to mind and the subject of this week’s blog is a case in point. Many people talk of the ultimate bucket list item being that of getting into space through a low-orbit trajectory that an increasing number of third parties are beginning to market to anyone with a spare €10M or €15M to throw around. Aside from the cost implications, such undertakings require that participants be in top physical condition which straightaway excludes most of us for starters. There are, however, other frontiers to be discovered — if not conquered —and which won’t necessarily break the bank or require you to be of iron-man material!
According to the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA), it is estimated that as much as 95 percent of the world’s oceans and 99 percent of the ocean floor remain unexplored and luxury French cruise line Ponant have decided to do their little bit by enabling their customers to get that little bit closer to what lurks beneath the ocean waves, without compromising one iota of luxury, opulence or creature comforts. Their new flagship expedition vessel Le Laperouse boasts something unique in maritime circles, let alone cruising ones and that is what they poetically describe as ‘Blue Eye’, a multi-sensory underwater space which sits below the waterline in their latest luxury super yacht.
The photo that accompanies this week’s blog is not that of a James Bond set nor of a Sci-Fi film but the actual lounge itself which will enable guests to view sea life from beneath the ocean waves, accompanied — via the ships sophisticated PA system —with the corresponding sonar that is captured on the other side of the hull. Later this week, I will enjoy the privilege of stepping aboard Le Laperouse when it makes a courtesy call to London and docks near Tower bridge so expect to hear more about this amazing new maritime experience in a future blog.
Ponant sits at the upper end of the cruise market but one can enjoy a week’s all-inclusive cruising anywhere in the world (excluding accompanying air fares) from about €6,000 upwards depending on stateroom category — certainly not cheap — but representing exceptional value for money when you consider the exclusiveness of the product (like being a guest on a Russian oligarch’s yacht), what’s included as standard and above all — the realization that you will be embarking on an adventure doesn’t require you to make compromises or have to renew your gym membership!