Mary & I retired in 1973 and moved to Florida. We were owners and operators of an award winning restaurant in Huntington, Long Island, New York (40 miles outside of NYC). In the ensuing years we traveled extensively and played golf all over the world. We vacationed at most of the well known golf resorts such as Greenbrier and Pebble Beach. We often visited our daughter and grandchildren living in Istanbul, Turkey. We also had a ocean front condo in Puerto Rico and we spent some vacation time there. It was often suggested by various travel agents we used, that we should try a cruise but we never considered it because we thought it would be too confining. We were used to the hustle and bustle of a very busy restaurant life and we didn't think we could take being cooped up on a ship for seven days.
In the early part of 1991 we became very disillusioned with the lessening of service and the hassles associated with flying and made a decision we wouldn't fly anymore unless it was absolutely necessary. At the same time we also decided we didn't want to drive any place that was more than one day's distance from our home. As you can see we didn't have a lot of flexibility in our vacation plans. We took a Florida map and scoped a 400 mile radius of our home and we made a lot of three to seven day stays at the best known vacation spots in that area. As you might well understand, within five years we ran out of places to go. It was then that our local travel agent once again suggested we take a cruise. She had worked part time at our country club and knew that we had retired from owning and operating a restaurant. She told us that we should especially be interested in trying the Celebrity line because the internationally acclaimed and world renowned chef, Michael Roux, was in charge of their restaurant operation. To make a long story short, Lisa persuaded us to try our first cruise - on Celebrity's Zenith. This was the beginning of our love affair with cruising and it continues to intensify with every cruise.
Our first cruise was an enlightening and truly memorable experience. We found it was exactly the type vacation we had been looking for for many years. Mary never liked moving from motel to motel, with all the packing and unpacking. It was a shear pleasure for Mary to unpack and know she didn't have to do another thing until we were ready to return home. Our cabin was very attractive. It was as if we were in room in a fine hotel or resort that moved, taking us to the places we wanted to go. Things were definitely looking up.
In the morning we called for room service. Within 20 minutes there was a knock on our cabin door. I opened the door and there was a waiter bringing us our continental breakfast. Mary fixed our coffee and croissants and we had our breakfast as we looked out at the sun bouncing off the ocean waves. What a wonderful way to start a day.
After breakfast we spent a leisurely hour or two while we decided what we were going to do. There was a channel on the television that told of everything that was going on on the ship. It was very helpful. We decided to go to the outdoor restaurant and have (another) breakfast. We got dressed and went to the ships outdoor restaurant where we enjoyed eating in a beautiful, relaxed setting. After breakfast we returned to our cabin, took care of necessities, and changed into our bathing attire. We then went to the pool deck and stepped into one of the four Jacuzzis that were located on the outer perimeter of the pool. After a half hour of being massaged by the bubbling 90 degree water, we became totally limp and languid. We slipped into the clear cool water of the pool and had a very enjoyable swim session. It was very pleasant and very invigorating. Mary then picked out a couple of comfortable lounge chairs for us. We enjoyed Pina Coladas as we watched the many activities that were taking place around the pool. After having lunch in the outdoor grill room we returned to our cabin.
On a port day, we would go ashore about 11 o'clock and either do some shopping or go to a fine hotel and pay them a small fee to use all their facilities - beach, pool, restaurants, showers, etc. We usually returned to our room at approximately three, and take a nap or just relax. Then at about 4 or 5 o'clock we ordered cheese and fruit or a small snack from room service and enjoyed it as we watched a movie. We got dressed about 6:30PM and then found an intimate cocktail lounge that had a group that played our kind of music. We enjoyed cocktails and dancing until it was time for dinner.
The dining room and the table setting were elegant. The meal was superb and the service impeccable. We had a Maitre d', waiter, assistant waiter and wine steward take care of our table and they did an outstanding job. The kitchen did things that are hard to do even in the kitchen of a fine French restaurant. The assortment of desserts was incredible. The pastries were out of this world, some of the finest we ever had. The hand work that was done in some of the preparation is usually only done in the finest restaurants that have a limited seating capacity of maybe 50 to 70 seats. Unheard of when your serving 1800 to 2000 guests.
After enjoying this sumptuous dinner, we stopped by another attractive lounge and had after dinner drinks and enjoyed some dancing till it was time to go to the showroom. The showroom was absolutely beautiful and the decor was elegant. The seating was row after row of love seats with lighted cocktail tables. The show far surpassed what we had imagined it would be. It was a Las Vegas type production, with a very talented group of young yet seasoned performers. The choreography was great and the costumes were great and the lighting and special effects were stunning. Mary loves musical shows and she was delighted with the performance. After the show we went to still another lounge that had a very romantic setting and we danced till the wee hours of the morning.
We got back to our cabin a little after one, somewhat tired but completely ecstatic with the first day of our cruise. We talked about our day and the many things we had done. We couldn't believe how many enjoyable things we were able to do in one day and how could we possibly have another day like this. All of a sudden the thought struck us - we were going to wake in the morning and have a chance to do it all over again, have another glorious day - and then do it for five more days. Will you please tell me, how can you beat that? We decided right then and there that we would cruise every chance we got and we have. We are fortunate that we are able to cruise as often as we do. We book a cruise for Mary's birthday, my birthday, our anniversary, Valentine's day and usually a fifth cruise when our agent has a fax special for us.
Mary and I refer to our trips as cruises when we write a review, but when we discuss our cruises with each other we refer to them as honeymoons because we can't think of a more romantic, intimate way of spending quality time with each other than when we are on a cruise. We will be having another honeymoon this coming May aboard the Grand Princess and God willing we will have many more.
If you have never cruised, we suggest you do yourself a favor and try one. You have nothing to lose and you might have the experience of a lifetime. If you compare the cost of a land vacation to a cruise vacation, we believe you will find that a cruise vacation is less expensive, more enjoyable, and offeers many more entertainment options for you and your family.
Most cruise ships are beautiful and elegant and have every creature comfort. You unpack your suitcases and your moving hotel takes you to the destinations on your itinerary. Your room is kept immaculate and your bed is made up twice a day.
Your cruise price includes the cost of all your meals and room service 24 hrs. a day. If you desire a change in dining, many ships have alternative dining.
The cruise cost includes entertainment. On the newer ships you can see as many as three shows a night, including Las Vegas type productions and all kinds of lounge acts. Many of the ships have movie theaters that show first run movies, cocktail lounges that feature every type of music - big band, rock n' roll, country, jazz - you name it, they have it.
Beside the cruise ships having many onboard activities, one of the newer ships, Voyager of the Seas, even has a miniature golf course, a rock climbing wall, an in-line skating track and a ice skating rink. Ships are also like beach resorts because they sail to magnificent tropical islands that afford their guests the opportunity to spend an afternoon swimming and snorkeling in the waters of some of the finest seas in the world. And if you prefer a pool, all ships have a pool and the newer ones have more than one, usually with adjoining whirlpools. Some have pools covered by a moveable ceiling that can be closed in inclement weather.
If you like a bit of gambling, ships have beautiful casinos with all the newest gambling devices. They also have daily bingo games with an escalating jackpot.
If you want to work out or begin a workout program, most ships have extensive exercise rooms with the very latest equipment and health instructors to help you.
You have more of an opportunity to meet people and make friends because of being seated with the same people at dinner for the seven days. You get a chance to know them. If you do not feel comfortable with your table arrangement, the maitre d' will make every effort to seat you at another table. Many shipboard friendships are carried on for a life time.
Ships have children's programs supervised by qualified personnel, including scavenger hunts and other activities that give the children a chance to meet other children. Ships usually have babysitting service at a very nominal fee so Mom and Dad can enjoy the activities of the evening. There are many more advantages that are too numerous to mention.
Another important plus is that you don't have to make a choice between an inland and a beach resort vacation, because a cruise offers both.
Our choice of a cruise itinerary is extremely limited because we do not want to fly. Therefore as we live in New Smyrna Beach, Florida, we have a choice of driving to Ft. Lauderdale or Miami, and to go wherever those cruise ships travel to. So our choice of itinerary is the Eastern Caribbean, Western Caribbean, Deep Caribbean and sometimes the Southern Caribbean.
We have cruised the Eastern and Western Caribbean many times. It doesn't matter to us anymore if we don't get off the ship at any of the ports. We enjoy the ambiance of the ship. We will be making our 15th cruise in the last four years this May 7th and we look forward to every cruise we book with as much eagerness as if it were our first.
Mary and I are not travel agents or affiliated in any way with any travel business. We wrote these words because we are passionate about cruising and we want to share our cruise experiences with you. If you have never cruisd before, or if you have cruised before but had a less than happy experience, we hope we have changed your mind and you will give cruising another try.
If you decide to book a cruise because of this article, please let us know because we would be very interested in hearing your comments.
Tom & Mary Milano are obviously addicted to cruising. They would love to hear your experiences and can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.
If you have any questions, comments or suggestions, please