I can remember being a small child, sitting at the kitchen table after my first cruise and telling my parents that one day I was going to work on one. Fast-forward 15 years and although working on a cruise ship may not be in my near future, I can still ramble for hours about the floating cities.
To this day, I am STILL convinced there is no greater euphoria than the moment you step onto a cruise ship. The wooden deck below your feet promises a week of unbelievable adventures. The moment you first walk into the grand piazza, and see the chandelier, the grand staircases, takes your breath away.
There’s a stigma surrounding these beautiful luxury liners. Some believe they are basically retirement homes on water, and lack in fun or adventure. But I can assure you that there is nothing better than lying on deck, breathing in the sea breeze and feeling the sun on your skin, or chowing down in the all-inclusive restaurant or buffet, or climbing a rock wall at sea for that matter.
Today, cruise ships are the greatest source of relaxation and entertainment around. In 2004, one cruise line came out with the first outdoor, poolside theatre at sea! These massive LED screens ranging from 250 – 350 square feet are used for movies, concerts, Guitar Hero or other video game competitions – I even watched the 2010 Soccer World Cup on a cruise ship outdoor theatre (and cried a little inside watching the Netherlands loose to Spain on such a big screen). Nowadays, it’s unusual to find a cruise ship that doesn’t have a screen under the stars where you can kick back on a lounger, sip a cold drink and watch the latest blockbuster.
But if movies aren’t your thing, don’t worry. Every night in your cabin you’ll receive your cruise guide outlining all the fun activities taking place the next day. There is an entire team on board dedicated to making sure you have a good time. The cruise staff run events all day long, from belly flop and hairiest man competitions, to trivia and bingo, to Zumba. There really is something for everyone.
Every night, no matter what ship you are on, be prepared to see some of the funniest comedians, most talented singers and dancers, magicians… the list does go on. To paint a bit of a picture for you, I’ve seen renditions and tributes of Frankie Valli and the Four Seasons, the Beatles and Broadway classics such as Hairspray. I have laughed, and cried and walked away feeling absolutely mind blown from the shows put on by such talented people.
If I haven’t convinced you with entertainment, I know food will do it for you. My absolute favourite part of cruising is the food. Anyone who knows me well knows if there is food involved, I too will be there.
Picture having a menu in front of you with every kind of perfect food you can imagine – escargot, scallops, prime rib, duck, lobster, lasagna, lamb chops, soufflé, cheesecake, key lime pie… Okay, I’m getting carried away. But that is exactly what it’s like to cruise. You have some of the world’s greatest food at your fingertips. Some of the selection of meals are ones that you’d pay triple digits at a restaurant on land to enjoy. On board, it's included in the price of the cruise. I will always remember my brother ordering, and finishing, five lobster tails one night – then going on to devour desert afterwards.
For a long time, I was bothered by the fact that people judged cruise ships. I tried to justify cruising in any way I knew how – including the aspect of seeing multiple places in the course of a week or two. If you read my last Article, “The 3 p.m Daydream”, you’ll already know my opinion on multiple cities in a few weeks. I for one, love it. Many of the cruises I have been on have shown me places I wouldn’t have seen otherwise, especially in the islands. The islands can be expensive if you want to fly down and spend your week at an all inclusive, or rent a place off AirBnb. But with a cruise ship, you are given an unique perspective. Visiting three or four different islands down south is like a beautiful sampler dish. If you don’t love what you’re given, you know there are three other chances to feel that joy you are after.
Many people don’t have the time, money or resources to see Turkey, Italy and Greece in a week, let alone a lifetime. But in 2012, when my family went on our first Mediterranean cruise, we did just that. Through an organized excursion on board, we visited Ephesus, Turkey, an ancient Greek city built in the 10th century BC. The seven-hour day brought us through the remains of the ancient city where Mark Antony and Cleopatra once walked. We explored the terrace houses where the rich lived; the mosaics and frescos still visible. Then we went to a Turkish school house where we were fed an authentic Turkish lunch. The day was long and exhausting, and equally extraordinary, but it was made better by the fact that after the hustle and bustle, we ended up back on our ship, free to relax in the hot tub or hang out in a lounge.
Cruising is often involved in my 3 p.m. daydream. It’s a spectacular experience I fell in love with a long time ago. I’ve been lucky to travel on eight ships with four cruise lines, but also because every time I’ve been on a ship I’ve met some of the most incredible, friendly and fun people you could imagine. From trivia partners to pool buddies to spa friends, the laughs are always large and the memories last a lifetime.
For some, travel is about relaxation, for others, it’s the adventure. With cruising, you get the best of both worlds. It’s a place you can feel completely at ease and relaxed, where the service rivals even the highest-class hotels. Simply put, cruising holds a freedom and excitement I have never experienced in any other aspect of travel to date – a something for everyone floating city.
Stay tuned for next month’s Traveller’s Tales! Hint – I’ll be talking Working Holiday in Australia!
-Emily Wilson is still relatively new to the wonderful city of Medicine Hat, having moved here in May 2016. Born and raised in Ontario, she lived in Australia for a year-and-a-half and has travelled to 31 countries. Traveller's Tales appears monthly on www.chatnewstoday.ca.