I abhor teaming crowds. I always take the road less travelled. I would rather climb a mountain than read a book. I prefer wildlife to girls gone wild. I am a traveller, not a tourist. In short, I am not a cruise person.
So why am I giggling like a school girl on a surfboard simulator in the middle of the Caribbean Sea aboard a floating city with 6,000 passengers and crew?
I am loath to admit it: I might be a cruise person.
I took my first cruise about 10 years ago and have interspersed other diversionary sailings between adventure trips to Costa Rica, Israel and the Galapagos.
I used to regularly give a pretentious sniff when someone asked me about cruising as a travel destination. While it is true that a cruise can only give you a very superficial taste of its destination ports, I’ve come to learn that the taste is delicious. As I reflect on the breadth of experiences I’ve had while cruising, it boggles the mind just how much can be offered in a few short days.
I’ve swum with dolphins, stingrays and sea lions. I’ve rollerbladed, zip-lined, mini-golfed, ice-skated and rock climbed. I have stared down buffets that would put Las Vegas to shame. I attended an art auction, lost a poker tournament and watched a juggler juggle my travelling companions’ eight-year-old boy.
All of these experiences accord with the expectations set by a massive deluxe pleasure palace, but what’s even more remarkable is the ability of these floating cities to still impart a level of intimacy and privacy.
Scattered amidst the steel and lights of these 175,000-tonne ships I have discovered nooks and crannies where my wife and I felt like the only persons aboard. I have stood alone for over an hour contemplating the inky blackness of the vast ocean from the private balcony of my stateroom. I have enjoyed a superb Italian dining experience at a candlelit oceanside table. I have had tense muscles kneaded into jello by expert hands in a vanilla-scented spa treatment room.
While I can’t ever see myself crowning a cruise with the highly sought after ‘trip-of-a-lifetime’ marquee, I no longer stare down my nose at those obese, camera-toting, Hawaiian shirt-wearing passengers waddling off the gangway at ports around the world. They seek the very same things we all seek in a vacation: a chance to unwind, a taste of the unknown, a change of pace. I almost hate to admit it but, I am one of you now.
Edward Prutschi is a Toronto-based criminal defence lawyer. Follow Ed’s criminal law commentary (@prutschi) and The Crime Traveller’s adventures (@crimetraveller) on Twitter, read his Crime Traveller blog, or email email@example.com.