"Sorry honey, not tonight, I have a headache". Do you think that if you walked in the door with some coconut rum and fruit punch, a lei around your neck, and a couple of cruise brochures, your significant other would refuse you (time) that evening? I don't THINK SO!!
Each year around this time, my mind slowly begins thinking of cruises. I live in Boston, and it snows here. It's cold here from November to May. I normally cut my grass for the first time come early June. A mid-winter cruise bug is an annual event.
Cruises are an addiction. I find that once I or anyone begins 'talking' about a cruise, we just might as well go ahead and ask for some time off from work, cuz we are going - sooner or later.
Ship Tip: Once you talk about a cruise, you're going.
So what causes 'your' cruise bug? Is it when the piggy bank can't take anymore quarters? Watching a new episode of "Love Boat"? Seeing Elvis in a Hawaiian shirt? Tasting a frozen tropical drink? Shoveling snow for your fourth time... that day? Your mother in-law saying she wants to come and live with you?
Now I fully understand that a lot of planning and budgeting must be done before a simple urge to cruise becomes reality, but if you have ever caught the cruise bug - than you know what I mean. And with the increase in berths growing as fast as the value of Yahoo stock, the deals are out there to be had.
I have cruised the last 10 or so Springs - and as the cruise bug slowly takes over my body, I realize that I normally cannot take anything to cure it - unless of course it is that ecumenical cure-all of cure-alls, the boarding pass.
Ship Tip: Boarding passes cure more than the common cold!
So no matter how you catch the cruise bug, the road to recovery has many options. The first, in conventional wisdom, is the brochure. Ahhhhh, look at all those beautiful people laying on the beach and having fun. For a mere pittance and a half, times two for both of us, plus spending money, we too can act like we are rich like these paid models! Oh joy!
But often this standby favorite becomes one's respirator. You read every page slowly and clutch onto each word as if it were a ticket to the Super Bowl. You read the 40+ page brochure from cover to cover, and then try flipping through it backwards to see if you missed anything. You study the deck plans and salivate at the food art. You dream that your better half looked half as good as the beautiful brochure people. You vow to be in shape so that you can increase your chance of being whistled at by the pool.
Ship tip: The cruise brochure is one's life support.
Cruise lines in the 80s began supplying Travel Agencies with cruise videos. These 10 minute enticers really don't give you much of a ship tour, but they do show you the water, top deck, and the ship from a roving helicopter. And unless you live somewhere where you can look out your window and see clear turquoise water, this enticement can be quite arousing.
If you stop by your local full service TA, just ask them if you can borrow a few cruise videos. They might be outdated and you may have to put up with Kathy Lee singing, but they do help serve a purpose (and they can be muted!).
Ship Tip: Dust off a few cruise videos from your local Travel Agency.
For those of you who feel somehow more attached to the world with your fingers on a keyboard and your eyes going bad staring at a PC screen all day, the option of the web is a truly satisfying experience. You can link right into all the major cruise line home pages right from The Sealetter, or read reviews on many of the ships right from The Sealetter, or you can learn about choosing itineraries and packing right from The Sealetter. Of course there are other options to the Sealetter out there on the web, but how can they compare?
With the web you can drill down to the ship's layout, menus, itineraries, lists of excursions, prices, and information on embarkation. You can book a hotel the day before or after, you can book your airfare, you can get a city map of your port of embarkation, get the current weather of your islands, read about the islands history, you name it - and you can find it on the web.
Ship Tip: You can get all the medicine you need from the web.
Only problem with the web is that the web is often just information. It is not objective information (of course with the exception of sites like The SeaLetter). If you want a second opinion, you could visit a travel agent or find another unbiased site on cruising. They can fill you in as to all of their experience and the comments from their past clients, and don't forget that most agents have sampled many different ships.
Ship Tip: A seasoned Travel Agent can help you cure the bug.
A truly sensory overload is attending a local travel show. Imagine being able to meet people from the cruise lines, viewing the latest non-stop video hyperbole, stuffing your bag with countless colorful cruise catalogs, dropping your name in the hat for a free cruise, and mingling with local Travel Agents? Could this be the prerequisite to heaven? It must be!
Ship Tip: Local travel shows offer many cruise bug remedies.
So once you get the cruise bug, go ahead and scratch the itch. Use some or all of your remedies - but don't ignore the bug, it won't go away. Brochures, travel agents, videos, travel trade shows or the world wide web - just take two and call your agent in the morning.
Doug Terhune is quite the experienced "solo cruiser" and is a regular columnist and reviewer for the SeaLetter. His monthly "Ship Tips" columns are very popular with our readers.
Doug's special interest is interviewing various officers on his cruises, including interviews with the Tropicale's head chef, the Inspiration's Chief Engineer, and the Sensation's Captain. To find all of Doug's SeaLetter columns and cruise reviews, use the SeaLetter Search Engine entering "Douglas Terhune" as your search phrase.
Doug can be reached at: Doug@sealetter.com.
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