Tuesday, February 23, 2010

Crusin' for Love or Love for Crusin'?

posted by Loucinda McGary aka Aunty Cindy

Since our theme is all about love this month, my post is actually about my love for cruising, but I couldn't resist throwing up the title of the Round Robin story we did way back when...

Anybody who has hung around on this blog for more than five minutes knows that yer olde Aunty is a travel nut (and sometimes just plain nuts, but that's a post for another day)! For the past few years, my travel mode of choice has been a cruise ship.

Yes, I've been on fifteen cruises, several to the same destinations. I've been asked on more than one occasion: Why do you love cruises so much? My usual reply is: What's NOT to love?

The ships themselves are beautiful! Most of them have lots of gleaming, polished wood. They are often decorated around a specific theme. For example, on our last cruise a lot of the common areas had a jungle motif. The indoor pool was especially beautiful, with life-sized carvings of twin elephants on one end and life-sized stone carvings of big cats draped around the pool edges as if they were lazing by the watering hole. I've been on ships with entire walls of stained glass, or ceilings painted like an outdoor meadow scene. So even if your destinations do not have enough spectacular sights (and they usually do), the ships themselves are floating scenic wonders.

Even though you get to visit multiple places, you only have to unpack ONCE! Trust me, I don't often have a luxurious cabin, which is okay since I'm seldom in there except to sleep. And of course, the best part of any vacation has got to be maid service! Nothing better than walking out of your messy room to go to breakfast and coming back before dinner to find it spotless. But there is also something comforting as well as convenient about knowing where you will be sleeping and eating no matter what city you are exploring during the day.

And speaking of food... OMGOSH! Cruise ship meals are THE BEST! You can have just about anything you can imagine at any time of the day or night. I thought I was a fairly adventurous epicure, but cruise food has offered me taste treats I never would have tried otherwise. Escargot, oysters Rockefella, creme brule, and frog's legs were all dishes I tried for the first time on a cruise, and I enjoyed them all! And don't even get me started on the 'choco-holics buffet.' Plus, the wait staff overall is outstanding. They literally can not do enough for you, and most of the foreign-born waiters are quite good-looking, which doesn't hurt either!

On a cruise, you can do as much or as little as you like. Even on days at sea (when you don't stop at a port) there are a variety of activities from card play to trivia challenges, karaoke to movies, to just lying around by the pool. Same goes for the days the ship is in a port. (That's a picture of my DH getting off the Norwegian Sun in Topolobampo, Mexico.) You can leave the ship on a guided excursion, go off on your own, or stay on the ship all day. My secret fantasy is to one day see someone lounging by the pool reading one of MY books!

Like I said, "What's NOT to love?" I could go on for pages, but I'll leave you with these reasons, and let YOU take a turn.

What kinds of vacations are your favorite? And why?
Ever been on a cruise?
Ever eaten escargot or frog's legs?

28 comments:

  1. Oh my gosh! That pic of you in the atrium with the giant stone elephant - I've been there! My husband and I renewed our vows ON THAT VERY SPOT! Amazing! Of course that was before kids, the only cruising I do now is sailing the kids off to preschool!

    Amanda

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  2. Aunty Cindy I so totally agree with you whats not to love about a cruise. I have only been on one cruise so far but I would go tomorrow if I could we had the best time sailing around the Pacific lazing around reading books going to the shows and of course the food fantastic and the maid sevice and waiters I want to go again. Hopefully soon

    Have Fun
    Helen

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  3. I've done a couple of cruises. For sheer relaxation without boredom from doing nothing, they can't be beat.
    All the downsides of travel have been eliminated. There's no luggage to hassle, no passports to worry about, the language barrier is dealt with by someone else. No schedules to keep up with, No searching for somewhere to eat or sleep.
    The downside of cruising is that the actual contact with foreign soil is minimal, and the contact with foreign people even less so.
    However, there's no question that it's the perfect way to vacation.

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  4. Never been on a cruise. I'm actually a little leery because, ever since I had kids, my tummy isn't what it once was. I used to be able to go on the worst waves in a tiny little boat, or do merry go rounds without a problem. Now, the thought makes me ill. So who wants to spend all that money for a cruise only to get motion sick. And, yes, I know, they're like cities and you don't feel the rocking, but I don't know that I'm willing to take that chance. My favorite kinds of vacations anymore, are ones where I can sit and do nothing but read all day and stare at an ocean. So what are we doing this summer? Getting on a plane, renting a van and driving through the midwest, hitting national parks/monuments. Ought to be a challenge, but at least we're using Hub's hotel points so I don't have to camp. Used to love that, too, but not so much anymore. The real challenge is going to be going w/o internet. Hey, wait. We're staying at hotels. Phew! I will have internet.

    Have tried escargots, haven't tried frogs legs. Love escargot, won't ever get near a frog leg that isn't connected to the rest of the amphibian.

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  5. Great post, AC! I went on a cruise once, but it was before I was married and I went with a friend. It would have been so much better with my DH! We have to do this sometime...maybe even without the boys!
    I've never had escargot that I can recall, but my dad used to shoot bullfrogs in our pond when I was a kid. We had fried frog legs several times, and it's true: they taste like chicken!

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  6. Hmmm...I'm going to have to try a cruise! We travel a lot (dh is a pilot), but I've never tried a cruise. The "unpacking only once" concept has me sold! Along with the foreign waiters:)
    I think frog legs are delicious - like very tender chicken meat - and escargot are a perfect vehicle for garlic butter! The worst "weird food" I ever ate was 'gator. Yuck!

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  7. I haven't been on a cruise, but everyone I know who has LOVES the experience. Perhaps I'll put aside my fear of the ocean :)

    My favorite kind of vacation are the ones with not too much planning involved--the kind where you have maybe a few scheduled events and there's a lot of time to just wander around!

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  8. How fun!

    Husband and I are serious travel junkies, though we've surprisingly never done a cruise. We're more the grungy backpacker sort who thrive on wandering off the beaten track, though I can certainly see the appeal of cruising for a lot of people.

    I ate tarantula while backpacking in the Amazon years ago. Pretty much like crab :)

    Thanks for sharing the lovely vacation details, Aunty Cindy. Would love to see photos of that jungle pool you're describing!

    Tawna

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  9. Hey Amanda, that ship was one in the Royal Caribbean line and I always confuse the names... Vision of the Sea, perhaps? It was really beautiful, one of the prettiest I've been on.

    That's another thing I like about cruises, the ones we take have very few children. :-P Yes, we sign up on purpose when most kids are in school and parents don't usually take them out. Though most cruise ships do have special activities and staff just for the young ones.

    AC

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  10. Helen, I HOPE you get to go again soon also!

    We are lucky to live here in California where a lot of cruises originate, so the prices can be very inexpensive. That also means we can drive to the harbor to board the ship. No airfare is a big help!

    AC

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  11. Very cool, AC.

    A friend goes on a lot of cruises with her cousin. She said she goes on as a passenger and off as cargo.

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  12. MM, you are right about not getting to spend enough time in each port. Also, most of the locals you meet just want to sell you something. However, both the DH and I have had locals approach us more than once and ask to practice English with us. That is always fun. :-)

    Plus, the cruise staff are almost all foreign and they are very interesting to talk to. I always ask my waiter how to say please and thank you in his language. I can now say thank you in Tagalog and Polish!

    AC

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  13. Judi,
    Cruising the Inside Passage to Alaska is for you! It is as smooth as a lake and you get to see whales, dolphins, and orcas. Okay, I missed the orcas both times I was on the Alaskan cruise, but maybe third time will be a charm?!?!

    Luckily, I seldom get motion sickness, but I've seen lots of passengers with the behind-the-ear patch, and elastic wrist bands. Usually the onboard comics make jokes about them belonging to a religious cult. :-)

    AC

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  14. Cheryl, I definitely think you and your DH should get away on a cruise. You'd have A BLAST! But do leave the boys (and the critters) behind.

    Actually the thing I miss most when I'm on a cruise is my dogs. ;-) A few times we've had service dogs on board with us, and I had to meet all of them.

    And you're right, frog's legs DO taste like chicken!

    AC

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  15. AC,

    When I was in Anchorage for the Left Coast Crime Conference a bunch of us took a cruise out of Seward and the captain even took us out into the Bering Straits for a short distance. We saw orcas including a newborn.

    The day was horrible, icy rain, and I suffered going out as much as possible to get photos. That and dogsledding was so much fun!

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  16. Joanne,
    I think once you try a cruise you will be hooked! I know I was. ;-)

    And you are right, escargot is all about the wine and garlic sauce! Same with the oysters Rockefella, it was all the seasoned bread crumbs and sauce. YUM!!! My other favorite thing to have on cruises is chilled soups. They are like eating a smoothie.

    AC

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  17. Hey Aunty Cindy,
    I love cruises, too. You don't have to worry about the meals and entertainment. I definitely do want to go on a Mediterranean cruise someday.

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  18. Danielle,
    I tell you a secret. As much as I love cruising, I always get nervous when I cannot see land. Dumb, I know but the ocean is scary and I'm not much of a swimmer. Seeing land is just a comfort, somehow. ;-)

    AC

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  19. OMG Tawna! You ATE a tarantula?!?!

    When we visited Granada Spain (GORGEOUS city!) the DH and I shared a 'seafood bark' (platter of fried seafood almost like tempura). The fish fried in a circle with its tail in its mouth was bad enough, but the baby octopi fried whole looked like spiders and I could NOT bring myself to eat them. I ate the larger tentacles with no body attached, but the DH had to eat those little spider-looking ones!

    Oh, and the tentacles didn't taste bad, just very chewy. :-P

    AC

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  20. LOL Linda on leaving as cargo!

    That's why I've never gone on a cruise longer than 11 days. I might be able to stretch it to 2 weeks but any longer and I'd probably have to exit the ship in the infamous bed sheet. Not because I forgot and packed all my clothes, but simply because nothing else would fit!

    And your cruise into the Bering Straits sounds FANTASTIC, if a bit cold and choppy.

    AC

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  21. I once "saw" myself on a cruise of the Greek islands, so I know they're in my future! Unfortunately/fortunately, the person I saw as being me was about a size 10, so it'll be a while. Also, I think my right shoulder was in some kind of sling, but I was smiling. So I'm looking forward to it!

    I'd like to hit Alaska as well, and perhaps return to Canada via one of those cruises that go from NYC up through Maine around into Montreal. And from there I'd take one o' them European river cruises, surrounded by castles!

    Lovely travel story! Enjoyed!

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  22. I'm with you, Jane!

    I'd love to cruise in the Mediterranean! But my next MUST GO cruise is through the Panama Canal. Everyone I've talked to who has been through it says it is fabulous.

    AC

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  23. Carol,

    I've been to Alaska twice and it is GORGEOUS! Don't worry about being a size 10, very few passengers are, esp. after a few meals! LOL! But, ouch, that arm in a sling doesn't sound good. Skip that part!

    I've heard many good things about the river cruises, though in comparison to the ocean going ships, the river ships are quite small. I'd still love to go!

    AC

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  24. Great post, AC!! I've been on one with my mother after my father died. We loved snorkling with the rays and swimming in the crystal blue Caribbean waters, or watching the ice sculptures or dancing, or seeing the newlywed couples game where they didn't know as much about each other as they thought. LOL

    We made English friends from London and some others from Guernsey and French Canadian friends and thoroughly enjoyed ourselves!

    We did sail through a terrible storm that reminded me of The Perfect Storm and I pulled out our life vests and was ready to abandon ship during the middle of the night as our ship raised up toward the black heavens and crashed down again with a horrific bang. One of the stabilizers was knocked out and the storm was so bad, we had to go a different route, trying to get out of the storm's path. Plus, I ended up taking seasick medicine, which made me sleepy! :)

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  25. Thanks Terry!

    We always meet fascinating people on our cruises. That is part of the fun!

    EEK! Sounds like your cruise was pretty hair-raising. The worst we've been in was only about 12--14 ft. swells. That was the only time I felt a little woozy and I went to the center of the ship on a lower deck (our cabin was on deck 8 right in the front) where you couldn't feel much movement and I was fine.

    AC

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  26. I have only been on one cruise and it was one of the best experiences and vacations of my life! Why I haven't gone again is a way bigger mystery than your question of what isn't too like about cruising. It is the total Love Boat dream come true. I envy you Cindy, but am also very happy you are embracing what is pleasing for you.

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  27. Hi Cindy~

    I took one cruise and it was a nightmare. First the airline lost my luggage (which was never found) so there I was in the huge elevator with my mother, my sister and at least 50 other people on the way to our room. My mother asked me what my plans were. I told her I had to see someone to tell them about my lost luggage and then I had to shop. She looked confused and asked what I had to buy. I'm thinking she's nuts. I was wearing a thong under my jeans and had a backpack with a dress and a bathing suit in it. That's all. I told her I needed to buy a toothbrush, something to sleep in, and underwear. That's when she said (in a very loud voice complete with New York accent) "You don't have to buy underwear, you can wear mine. " Fifty sets of eyes were turned on me I shook my head and said "Thanks, mom, but no." Thank God it was just a 3-day cruise. every time I'd walk out of our room, someone would stop and ask if I was wearing my mother's underwear. That cruise proved to me that there's not a ship big enough for my mother, my sister, and me.

    Once I got away from my family, I had a great time. Leave it to me to miss the chocolate buffet but I was wondering why I was the only customer at the piano bar...that was until all the performers showed up. So I spent the night hanging out with the performers. It was me, one other girl (a performer) and 17 gorgeous singing and dancing men. I got to dance with them all, the highlight was dancing with a Freddy Prinze Jr. look-alike while he serenaded me singing "Fly me to the moon." We closed down the bar and they invited me to go to the worker's bar but I figured I better get back to the cabin.

    When my mother awoke to yell at me for keeping her up, she asked me where I went so I told her. When she said "Why didn't you come and get me?" I said because I was having fun and I didn't want to spoil it. The next morning, everyone came to give me hugs and kisses goodbye (all 18 of them) My sister looked a little jealous.

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  28. You've convinced me, AC! I'll have to look in to a cruise for my next vaca. Great post, as always.

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