A cruise. That’s the ticket. It’s been a difficult year and, while I can’t actually GO on a cruise right now, PLANNING a cruise sounds terrific.
What spurred this magnificent idea was a television commercial. I don’t watch much television and when I do it’s usually no-commercial streaming, so this was like the Heavens telling me I was meant to do this thing.
A distant shot of a huge multi-level shiny white ship slowly zoomed in to a happy couple relaxing in a hot tub on an otherwise deserted deck. The scene switched to an off-ship excursion and there was my couple, walking hand in hand down a sparsely populated old European street. Then they were in chairs on an empty beach watching the waves and sipping umbrella drinks as the sun began to set.
Ahhhhh. The peace, the beauty.
No time to waste. (Actually, there was plenty of time to waste as I can’t go on any vacation in the immediate future, but I needed to hurry up and get to planning.) I went to my research library – commonly called Google – and looked up cruises. I saw some special deals that brought hope. I just might be able to afford to cruise in this lifetime.
The websites depicted spacious cabins with balconies overlooking calm sparkling waters. Well-appointed dining rooms served gourmet meals accompanied by glasses of wine, red and white. Small theaters featured big name entertainers in an intimate setting. Yes.
More in-depth research revealed that the deals that fit my budget did NOT include spacious cabins with balconies, but miniscule rooms that were more like berths in the bowels of the ship with bathrooms that were airplane facilities with the world’s tiniest showers added.
Yes, there are luxury ships that resemble the ideas that had grown in my head, propagated by the commercials and the copious post-Google-search in-ternet ads. But the even semi-accessible cruises were in huge vessels with 5,000 other passengers jammed onto the decks waiting for space in a chair by the pool or a spot in a hot tub touching knees with strangers.
Adventurous extroverted people-loving folks might not see any negatives in this description. But I am an introvert. Five people I am not related to constitutes a crowd, a mob, in my mind. More than one other person in a hot tub with me is unthinkable. And that one other person better be related to me, or at least be a long-time friend.
As for the entertainment – more likely to be karaoke and shuffleboard in throngs than a quiet table listening to a popular musician. I would likely end-up in my berth reading a book the entire cruise trying to avoid the 5,000 other people. Even so, I would have to come out for meals. There is purportedly food a-plenty, but the reality of the luxurious dining room on a (for me) affordable cruise is a large cafeteria where 3,000 of those passengers decided to
eat at the exact same time I did. As for my red and white wine – not included in the “all-inclusive” package.
And the excursions? I had pictured a stroll down a picturesque street alone or with a friend. Leisurely visits to historic sites. A tiny bit of shopping in a local open market. The pictures I saw more closely resembled a lynch mob, or Black Friday shoppers. Potato, poTAHto.
Now, before cruise lovers and angry cruise lines beat me up over this, I DO allow that there could be – Lord, help us, there MUST be – small luxury cruise lines that offer a more intimate experience. And I acknowledge that what I’ve described is not abhorrent to a segment of folks. I am just not in that segment.
What is needed, in my opinion, is a dedicated cruise line for introverts. Happily, my searching finally provided the answer. I hope to set sail this summer on a small vessel with a short passenger list. The amenities are limited, but are tailored to my specific likes and needs. Yes, indeed, I and some of my kids with some of their kids and a picnic cooler are gonna spend a whole day on a pontoon boat. And disembark at the end of the day happier, kinder people for it.