Over the years I had heard good and bad things about cruising. To be honest, mostly it was all good. But I kept thinking, cruise ships are huge, floating cities with rooms, restaurants and shops. Many of them are so large they are divided into neighborhoods. Others are smaller, charming and more intimate. But is cruising worth it? Was it better, worse or just different than land tours? Were we better off just flying to a destination, checking into a hotel and exploring on our own? I wanted to find out. So my husband and I went on a two week cruise through the Mediterranean and found the answer to much more than my original question.
We booked a balcony room and, although it’s not much different from a hotel room, I found the outside deck to be my favorite part. I found something else there too: peace. We unpacked, settled in, and quickly learned our way around, especially to the 24 hour dining hall because after a day of traveling, we were hungry. To our great surprise, the food was excellent. Everything was good. There were stations for different types of cuisine and from regions around the world, fruit, seafood, ethnic, desserts. It was all there and all great. We even ordered room service a few times and to my delight, it was included with our cruise. I felt so spoiled.
After more exploring we found the pool, spa and casino. Although we aren’t much for gambling, the casino was nice. Much like gambling, I’m not much of a shopper either. I prefer to spend my money on traveling, not shoes, jewelry or bags. But even I had to admit to the allure of the shops on board. We even took in a show, reluctantly. We were convinced that the live entertainment would be lame, but after listening to our dinner companions (and new friends) rave about the shows for several nights we broke down and went. My husband and I were pleasantly surprised to find the quality was amazing. It was Broadway quality, fun, invigorating and pure joy. We went several times and enjoyed every show.
There is an almost endless supply of things to do on a cruise ship and you can do as much or as little as you like. Gamble, eat, take in a show or go to the pool or spa, even play on a Wii gaming system with other guests. Day or night there was something to do, see, experience or eat and most of them we did. But the balcony in my room kept calling me. Several nights we ordered room service and sat out on our balcony and watched the water slide by. Slowly, beautifully rocking us into a place many of us never find in our day to day lives. Peace. Sitting out there the stress of my life was being left behind with each passing wave. The serenity and relaxation you hope to find on vacation (but rarely do), I had actually found!
When this colossal floating city finally meandered it’s way back to Rome for us to disembark, I sat on the balcony one last time. I wished for a magic spell to transport us back two weeks and have the cruise start over. But it wasn’t to be. I took a picture of the chairs and I keep it near to me to remind myself of the stress free days, pure relaxation and memorable vacation of a lifetime. It truly was a gift, and I found it on a cruise.
So now, I no longer ask myself, ‘Why cruise?’, now I just ask, ‘When?’