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picture of a cruise ship off a white sand beach

Last minute. Gotta make a decision. Boat leaves in 3 days.

The gal on the phone says it may be an “obstructed view” room.

I envision looking at a life boat hanging outside the window, seeing nothing of the sky or sea, blocking out 80% of all light coming into the room. Then again, maybe it’s some sort of supporting beam or post that divides the view in two.

“Does the window open?”, I ask.

The answer comes back, “No, because we’re on the bottom deck.” My imagination runs wild. I conjure up crappy seas and splashing waves engulfing the window. I see us on the bottom deck, last cabin, last row, next to churning twin-diesel engines that run all night. Dark, loud, and most likely, dingy. This doesn’t sound like a great first cruise experience to me! Do they supply earplugs?

I pause. “What the hell, let’s do it. Who spends much time in their room anyways?”

First Timers

I’ve never been one to fore-go great opportunities. And, taking a cruise out of Fort Lauderdale, let alone anywhere, is something I’d never done. I love experiencing new things.

Besides, I can’t think of a good reason not to go. I’m already in Florida, it’s only a two hour drive, and I have the time.  Also, it’s at a good price.

Advertised at $399.00 for a seven day cruise*. Wowwwww!

In the past, I’ve never wanted to go out on a cruise. I had the preconceived notion that it would be on the boring side; not much to do except lie in the sun, swim in the pool, and have tons of kids splashing and kicking you in the face.

And, oh yes, let’s not forget that you get to eat like a dog until you’re nearly sick and ready to upchuck. Trapped on board, no where to go, no land to explore, and surrounded by endless water and food. Nope, wanted nothing to do with em.

Little did I know…

You say you’ve never cruised? DO IT NOW!

Bottom floor, top floor, obstructed, unobstructed, no window, bratty kids…it doesn’t matter. You’ll have one fine, kick-ass time.

Apparently, I’m not the only one who loves the experience of cruising.

One couple is celebrating their 56th cruise! Finding others who have traveled by ship 20-30 times is not uncommon. Whether it be the Mediterranean, around Cape Horn, cruising up to Alaska, or the fjords of Scandinavia, it’s a great way to get a taste of the world, with minimal concerns and effort.

I’ve compiled the following lists of twelve things I love about cruising. Feel free to contribute to this list.

What I love about cruising is:

  • Unpacking just once. I like to travel. Quite often I’m only at a location one night.  It’s a treat not having to deal with the hassle of loading up and moving, and trying to find your tooth brush again.
  • It’s relaxing. There’s a space for everyone. It doesn’t matter if you wish to swim and sit poolside, find a corner in the library, or vegetate in the restaurant, you can find what you’re looking for. Of course, there is always your room; sometimes the best choice to rest and refresh yourself.
  • The food. All-you-can-eat, and available without you having to lift a finger. Whether it be room service, or one of the many restaurants, it’s a convenience that is wonderful. But let me warn you, you may be tempted to eat like a dog…there’s no way around it. The first time I ordered room service for breakfast I ordered enough for 3 meals. I learned the hard way. You will too. Do it anyways.
  • It’s an inexpensive way to travel and see new places. Take a look at this trip: Caicos Islands; San Juan, Puerto Rico; St. Maartens; and Half-Moon Cay, Bahamas. If you wanted to visit these places individually, the price would be astronomical.  You would have to deal with airline costs, hotels, food, and transportation. Compare this to a Caribbean cruise at $399.00 per person,plus. For the value received, you can’t beat it. You can certainly spend more money on balcony’s or on higher packaged entitlements, but why? Who spends much time in the room anyway? Plus, if your going to eat healthy, you don’t want to eat steak and veal anyways.
  • The stops along the way. There are many shore excursions for all your many wants and desires, but you also have the option to just get out and explore the city. Old Town in San Juan, Puerto Rico was a delight to walk, explore, and just feel the ambiance of the city.
  • It’s relaxing. It’s what you want to make of it. I don’t care who you are… it’s a great way to unwind.
  • The people. Doesn’t matter where you come from, most everyone has a story to share or kindness to spread. When it comes to going to dinner, opt to sit with someone else. You’ll be asked when you check in. We met lots of great people this way.
  • The service. Having your room checked twice per day, towels replaced, bed made, trash emptied, and everything spiffed-up was wonderful.
  • Your privacy. Leave the curtains open; make love. Let your inhibitions disappear. You don’t have to worry about someone walking by or anyone peering in. Wake up to natural light (thank god our view didn’t have any obstruction, nor did we need earplugs). Watch the moonlight sparkle on the waves of the sea. All you see is water, and perhaps the distant lights of a far-away ship. It’s absolutely beautiful.
  • No bugs. Ditto. Nada. Just the nice breezes.
  • The cleanliness. Everything is constantly being cleaned and sanitized by the crew. Floors are washed, chairs and tables are wiped down, the hot tubs are emptied on a regular basis, and sanitizer is placed at every restaurant entrance.
  • The activities. There is something happening every day. Free work-out classes plus paid options for yoga and body sculpting, digital photography workshops, and napkin folding (my god, you should see some of the “critters” they make out of folding towels!). They even have a class to teach you how to play the steel drum!

picture of a cruise ship off a white sand beach

There’s an art center with collectors-quality pieces that are auctioned off, a talk given by the captain explaining the challenges of steering a gigantic “house” on water, trivia contest, as well as nightly live stage shows. There’s dance lessons you can sign up for, a piano bar, chess games, shuffleboard courts, ping-pong tables, and a library for those who wish to work, read, or get on the internet (charges apply).

There’s also an outside basketball and volleyball area that is netted to prevent lost balls. If you’re interested in martini night or partaking in a “Beers of the World” tour, you have those choices too. Black jack, slots, roulette…like I said, there is something for everyone.

So, don’t do what I did for so many years. Get off your hind-end and Google “great deals on cruise ships” and get ready to go! Great deals abound out there. In fact, repositioning cruises, those boats traveling from winter grounds to summer grounds, are a good economical choice. Who knows, you could be on the first boat leaving Florida, pass through the Panama Canal, and sail onwards up to Vancouver, BC. Want to keep going? Sign on to the great “early bird” rates up to Alaska.

You won’t regret it.

* What they don’t tell you is that taxes of approximately $125.00 per person plus $11.00/day gratuity is added on, bringing the cost to just over $600.00.  That’s still a good deal in my opinion.

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