Tuesday, February 19, 2013

Sea for yourself

After last week's incident on Carnival Cruise Lines, I know those of you who are on the fence about taking a cruise probably think you now never will.....but I encourage you to keep an open mind. 

I would know because I am a cruiser.  Blame it on "The Love Boat". As a country girl growing up watching the show loyally every week for years, it was a voyage in my mind to a much larger world that left me endlessly curious about cruising.

Years later as a volunteer recorder for the Braille Institute I was asked to record a guidebook on cruises. This was a hardcover tome filled with the coming year's annual trips on several international cruise lines, Regent Seven Seas, Cunard, Pearl Seas, Oceania, to name a few. I think it took me several sessions to put it on audio, so I learned a lot reading aloud about cruises all over the world, the ports they visited, the ships features, entertainment, dress code, and all of the various things to do on board.   Some were five days long, some five weeks, better yet a few were months at a time....(what a trip that would be)!  

Celebrity Constellation

Back in 2005, a friend suggested we all go on a Caribbean cruise. My husband and I were living in NYC at the time and going a million miles an hour. A vacation sounded good so we reserved a cabin and forgot about it.  Six months flew by and next thing we knew we were boarding the Celebrity Constellation.

Without the interruptions of our daily responsibilities, we were able to forget about everything. We even skipped the first port and just stayed on the ship, so by the time we hit St. Kitts we were caught up on sleep and ready for a day on an island. After that my memories are a blur of ports, the deep, dark blue of the ocean at night, dinners, shows, sushi making demonstrations, massages, and of course, the best part, heavenly sleep and the gentle movement of the sea beneath.

Celebrity Constellation pool
Since then we have tried to take a cruise every few years, but actually never on Carnival...probably won't start now. Although what happened to them could have happened on any ship. At any given time there are hundreds of cruise ships floating around in international waters and 99% are incident free.

By the way cruising is not expensive compared to a regular vacation. Many people don't know this but cabin prices include meals and shows and there are no cars to rent or taxis to hail on a ship.

I have seen some great shows onboard, especially Celebrity and Princess. They really go all out. Admission is free and you can come and go as you please. Even Second City Improv perform on Princess Cruise Lines.

Most unusual experience for me on a ship for me was running a 5k, for charity on my last cruise. Some ships have an outside running track and I have to say it is such a joy to jog on top of the sea! All ships also have a library.  I never plan  what book to check but just surprise myself. I've read books by Garrison Keiller, comedian Sarah Silverman and ultra marathoner Dean Karnezes, people whose books I have never sought out, but happened along and enjoyed.

My favorite feature of cruising is I don't have to plan everything every night like on a regular vacation. I like spontaneity. Just being able to walk down the hall to dinner, no directions needed or parking spots to find, then walk into a show, no tickets to order, no seating time to plan for. If I want to have a cocktail then I can and not having to worry about driving. Then there's the piano lounge and casino, or just going back to the cabin and drifting off to sleep. The days and nights blend into each other while the sea and island ports lull me into a state of relaxation that's hard to reach on a land locked vacation.

Sapphire Princess (taken on my Android)

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