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See the world … from the deck of your cruise ship!

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Monday Mantra

I want to stay on board…I want to stay on board…I want to stay on board

See the world… from the deck of your cruise ship!

Sometimes, a lounge chair and a cold drink is all you need.

Sometimes you meet some nutty people on a cruise, and I’d written Larry off as one before the ship even sailed. We started talking at the pool bar as we waited for an announcement that our cabins were ready and, during our conversation, he revealed that he had no shore excursions planned and, in fact, had no intention of leaving the ship for the entire 10-day sailing.

Listen. Nobody enjoys shipboard ambience more than I do, but there’s something pretty weird about someone who travels from Chicago in the dead of winter, boards a ship to spectacular sun-drenched islands, exotic local culture, and fabulous shopping and then can’t be bothered to venture beyond their deck chair.

I didn’t see Larry again until we had reached the halfway point of the cruise. I had just returned from four hours at a beach that, while picture-postcard pretty, offered no shade (not even a palm tree), no amenities, and woefully few taxis back to the ship. I was hungry, tired, and cranky. Sand clung to my skin, irritating me with each movement, and I was so burnt that the chilled towel I was welcomed back with at the gangway had grown tepid around my neck.

“Fifth day in captivity,” Larry said, beaming at me over his frosty mug of beer as I joined him at the pool bar and ordered a bottle of water. Unlike me, Larry looked cool, clean, and relaxed and he certainly wasn’t hungry since he told me he consumed two portions of the best lasagna he’d ever had at lunch that day.

But what really ticked me off was Larry’s tan — rich, even, and glowing — the result of alternating periods of intense sun exposure and frequent breaks in the air-conditioned comfort of the ship’s public rooms. Four hours on my beautiful beach, on the other hand, would leave me blotchy, peeling, and covered in aloe gel by dinnertime.

outdoor relaxation area on cruise linerOver the years, I’ve realized that Larry’s approach to cruising isn’t so nutty after all. While wild horses can’t keep me from exploring favorite or intriguing new ports of call, staying on board as your shipmates make their way to the gangway and disappear for the day just might be the best-kept secret of the experienced cruiser. An all-but-empty ship means unoccupied deck chairs, a peaceful lunch at your choice of table, a chance to chat with officers and crewmember, and, often, steep discounts on spa treatments and shipboard activities.

Today, I consider itineraries carefully before I book my cruise. I’m looking for a sailing that will call at some places I love and, just as important, some places that I don’t love … but everyone else does.

 

— Judi Cuervo

 

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