My travel blog will cover all kinds of travels. But I believe that cruises deserve a special mention, as they were really my introduction to international travel.
A bit about my cruising history:
My first cruise was on Royal Caribbean’s Monarch of the Seas, for my honeymoon in 1992 (the first one). The islands we visited were Antigua, St Maarten, St Thomas, Martinique, and Barbados. The trip was booked through a travel agent, and I had no idea what I was doing. The package price seemed right, that was all I cared about at the time. But hey, we learn from our mistakes, right? Mistakes included:
- Flying to Puerto Rico the day after our wedding, to catch the cruise that afternoon. Only now do I realize how lucky we were that there were no delays.
- Not spending any time in San Juan
- Booking an obstructed view stateroom without a balcony / fresh air
- Booking only cruiseline sponsored shore excursions
- Thinking we would actually get a chair near the pool
- Getting married to Husband #1 in the first place (just kidding – I love my kids! I love my kids! Everything happens for a reason! yada yada yada!)
Here’s the good thing though: you don’t know what you don’t know. I LOVED the cruise. I’ll be the first to admit that cruising is not for everyone, and that it has its drawbacks. If you are not a somewhat social person, or if you need peace and quiet and isolation, cruising is definitely not for you. Buffets can be crowded and the food so-so, you may wait for an elevator, seas may be rough, and casinos smoky. But here are the things about cruising that I fell in love with:
- Unpack once, see many destinations
- Interacting with passengers and friendly crew from all over the world
- Sailaway drinks, watching an island recede into the distance while you imagine the next one
- A friendly, low pressure casino – $5 tables, and they don’t shoot you if you ask questions or make a mistake
- The majesty of the dining room experience – back in 1992, this included dancing waiters and a set table and time each night, with the same cruise companions (which could be a good or a bad thing depending on the companions!) I’ve happily since moved on to “freestyle” cruising, but still enjoy dressing up for a dinner experience even though dress codes have relaxed.
- Evenings complete with included entertainment, many bars, and no need to drive home = the occasional hangover
- Beautifully prepared food, especially desserts and yummy chilled soups
- The overall friendliness of the cruising public. Never have I experienced an elevator ride on a cruise ship without some chit chat – where are you from? I can’t believe it’s Wednesday already! Did you enjoy xyz island? I have yet to travel for any length of time as a solo, but if and when I do, I think my first attempt will be a cruise. It’s just so easy to meet people and make conversation, because you are all sharing the same experience.
Since that first cruise, I’ve been on (about) 15 more cruises. This included a number of cruises with my children, who always enjoyed the kids’ clubs, ordering whatever they wanted from room service and buffets, bunk beds, and the arcade. The majority of my cruises have been on either Norwegian Cruise Line or Royal Caribbean, although I’ve also taken a couple of cruises on RCCL’s sister line, Celebrity. In the future, I hope to try a luxury cruise line and European river cruising.
So: The stage is set. I look forward to posting about cruises, past and present. Throughout this blog, I will label cruise-related posts under the category “Cruises”.