While I’ve spent nearly seven hundred nights of my life in hotels to date, prior to last week, I’d never spent a single night of my life at sea. That would change when I’d embark on my first ever cruise with my fiancée and another couple about the Western Caribbean. This is quite a thing to behold, the ocean liner. A floating hotel larger than most that each morning wakes up in a different port. It seems like there couldn’t be a more ingenious travel resource. For me, it took some time not to get used to the motion of the ocean, but rather the concept of the vacation itself. It’s important to orient yourself such that you don’t think of the cruise as your means of transportation to and from each island port of call, but rather that it’s the vacation itself. The days at sea are some of the best times of the cruise. And the ports are a mere fraction of the entire experience. We were in Key West for about five hours, on Grand Cayman for about four, and in Jamaica another five. Once you embrace the idea that the ship is not just your island taxi, you have a greater appreciation of the overall experience.
The other aspect that takes some getting used to is the idea of an all inclusive vacation. And indeed there is value to be had here, particularly for folks like myself, who do not consume a great deal of alcoholic beverages. The food is paid for. Suffice it to say that if you don’t drink at all, don’t care much for soda, and are content with the banquet style dinner that’s served in their dining rooms, there may not be a need to reach into your pocket even one time for additional funds. We opted for one night in the steak house on board because the food quality does improve rather substantially. But it’s surely not a mandate to do so. The dining room food is generally sufficient and what they lack in quality, they assuredly make up for in quantity. I was enamored, dare I say overwhelmed, with the abundance of food on board. I can’t wait to watch a documentary to see how this food is ordered, stored, and prepared in such mammoth scales. I did pay attention to how long we were on ship and based my cuisine on that. For example, I was keen on eating the sushi on the second night on board, but by our sixth night it seemed to me that unless I missed the big net that the ship was dragging behind us, or the helicopter delivery, the sushi couldn’t have been all that fresh by our final night.
Service was excellent as was cleanliness. I would absolutely choose to do another cruise but I will say this – I think the Caribbean and around the continent is the only place I would do a cruise. I hear rave reviews about European cruises, whether in the Mediterranean or the Baltics, and I’m afraid they have no appeal for me. It isn’t that I wouldn’t want to visit those countries. On the contrary, I wouldn’t be able to overcome my frustration at how little time I would spend there. For me, each Caribbean Island is worth a visit, but in many instances, I find them to be very similar. Five hours in Jamaica, for example, seemed more than enough time. On the other hand, if my ship pulled up to Venice and told me I had but five hours to explore, I’d go nuts. I’d want five weeks, forget hours!
Nevertheless, I’m sold on cruising and can’t wait for our next embarkation.