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A cruise is a meeting of car enthusiasts at a predetermined location, organised predominantly through the internet (in recent times) but also largely through mobile phone, word of mouth or simply by a cruise being established enough that it becomes a regular event.
There are two main types of cruise: regular cruises, also known as meets, and one-off cruises. The events that take place are similar; cars meet in car parks, park up or cruise (drive slowly) around the car park while people socialise – often meeting people from cruise websites, show off their cars and admire others' cars. If there is enough space there are often drag races, burnouts, and doughnuts.
A meet is a regular gathering, usually weekly or monthly, where the time and place is freely publicised and well known. It is becoming more common these days for these events to be referred to incorrectly as cruises.
A one-off cruise is an event organised by a particular group of people or club which would usually be advertised through cruise websites. The final destination of the cruise is often kept secret; it is known only to the convoy leaders in an attempt to keep the cruise unknown to the police. until there are a large enough numbers of people at the cruise to make it difficult to disperse.
One-off cruises tend to be larger than meets, but larger meets may have magazine attendance. This type of cruise is increasing in recent times due to increased police interest in regular, established cruises.
Some large cruises operate a "convoy-only" policy.
Cruises are generally held in retail parks due to the large open car parks needed to accommodate high attendance numbers (sometimes more than 500 cars). Naturally, with many cruises situated in retail parks, most cruise locations are also in close proximity to fast food restaurants such as McDonald's or Burger King.
Cruising and the law
Although cruising is not a crime in itself, there are many illegal activities associated with it and as such cruises are often monitored by the police or even closed. The most commonly cited reasons for breaking up cruises are breach of the peace, caused by loud exhausts and sound systems disturbing local residents and dangerous driving (such as street racing, burnouts and doughnuts). Police also claim that cruises are used as cover for drug dealing and are attended by stolen or otherwise illegal cars. More recently, police have been using ASBO laws which enable them to seize and impound cars if anti-social behaviour is taking place or if a group refuses to disperse from an area.
As a result of increased police powers, legal cruises have been established such as Weston Wheels, although these tend to resemble car shows with camping, music stages and trade stalls. This passive, organised nature often does not satisfy the desires of cruisers, so illegal cruising continues.
Cruising and modifying have long been represented in the commercial magazines Max Power, Fast Car Magazine and Redline. In mid-2006, Max Power, the magazine that brought cruises to the forefront, abandoned the scene – preferring to concentrate on "dream" cars such as Nissan Skylines. Long-time rival FastCar assumed Max Power's position and now covers multiple cruises across the UK in each edition.