Thursday, June 9, 2011

Thursday Travels: Cruise Diva

I thought I might use Thursdays to start a little travel log for myself. Hope you enjoy it!

I love to cruise. Actually, I just plain love to travel; cruising just happens to be my favorite method. I took my first cruise in 2004 at the age of 42. Prior to that point, I had really not seriously considered a cruise as an option. As a family we traveled quite a bit. By the age of 18 our children had been to at least 25 states and deep into Canada. But a cruise? Not that interested. Then my mother passed away. I decided I needed a change for Christmas that year, and a cruise seemed to fit the bill perfectly.

Our Christmas cruise was planned for the Eastern Caribbean. We would leave out of Ft. Lauderdale, Florida. Our ports of call were to be the Dominican Republic, Puerto Rico, St. Thomas, and the Bahamas. I remember being more apprehensive than excited. I had read reviews of cruising and there seemed to be a lot of complaints alongside the glowing testimonials. Then there were the critics who slammed cruising in general, the “Travel Snobs” as I now call them. They felt the only way to visit a place was to spend several days there soaking in the culture, not several hours. We were spending a lot of money on this vacation; what if we hated it?

We flew out of Wichita on Saturday for our Sunday sailing. We arrived quite late in Ft. Lauderdale and by the time we settled in at the hotel it was 1am. I recall feeling a little achy and under the weather that night and noticed a cough starting. I hoped it was just exhaustion, but I wasn’t that lucky. I ended up with bronchitis. I fought it the entire cruise as well as the next 4 weeks. As a nurse I had brought a small pharmacy along and immediately began antibiotics; and codeine for the cough. I slept a lot. On port days we were on the go. Illness was not going to stand in the way! At the end of the 7 day cruise I realized that it had been the best vacation I had ever taken, despite being ill! I had caught another bug, the cruise bug. And I have never been able to shake it.

I learned a lot that first cruise. Booking excursions through the cruise line is not always the best choice. Some ports are more conducive to wandering around on your own than others. Take as many pictures as possible. Don’t waste time going to the port of call shopping shows, the cruise line does not care about getting you the best deal, they care about the kickback. Avoid any store with the word “International” in its name. Wean yourself off pop/soda before the cruise, unless you want to spend $40 for a week’s worth of soft drinks. Finally, act like the responsible adult you should be. Most the fatalities/serious injuries on cruise ships and excursions occur because the person was incredibly drunk or incredibly stupid!

Bon Voyage! ~Marla

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