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Monday, August 29, 2011

To Cruise or Not to Cruise?

To cruise or not to cruise? That is the question.

As much as the sea is enticing and boats always look elegant, Mr. Wonderful and I did not know if we were "cruise" people.  We had been on yachts, like gulets in Turkey, that can anchor in small coves and you can swim from ship to shore.
Or, you can get boarded by friendly pirates ...
But large ships were an unknown.  We finally signed up for a cruise as part of a tour headed by professors Victor Davis Hanson and Bruce Thornton.  The cruise would take us to Corsica, Sicily, Pompeii, and other locations of interest to those of us who like ancient and military history. The best way to get to the places we wanted to see with a group of about 60 people was via the cruise ship Azamara Journey, which carries hundreds of passengers.

We boarded the Azamara Journey at Civitavecchia and off we sailed. The ship itself seemed a little tired looking but everything was scrupulously clean and the crew was friendly and competent. The food was served in large quantities but I would not call it "cuisine."  There was a large library reading room but the air conditioning made it too cold to use at length.

So, what are some of the pros and cons of our cruise experience?  Here are six of each ...

Pros:

  • We unpacked once
  • Our "suite" had a private balcony
  • Our deck was high enough so the engines were almost silent
  • The weather cooperated and no motion sickness occurred
  • 24/7 housekeeping and room service
  • We unpacked once
Cons:
  • Cruising from port to port at night made new places just appear without the experience of context or a passage of time and scenery
  • Even though we were in waters off of Italy, we felt isolated from the place, as if we really weren't there ... or anywhere
  • The feeling of not being in Italy was compounded by the ship's food, which was of the anywhere variety instead of the local variety
  • The ship was too big for most docks, so we had to take a tender (which doubled as one of the life boats) to and from the ship to the shore
  • A shore excursion usually meant, getting off the ship onto the tender, then into a bus waiting (or not!) for us on shore and driving hours to a destination, then too little time at the destination before having to head back and leave again for a night's sailing
  • Karaoke night


So, will we ever take a cruise again?  Mr. W is adamantly against.  On the other hand, I want to see the itinerary. Besides, you only unpack once.

Stay tuned to see whose opinion will prevail.



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