Byzantine Travel Journal: Day 14 (On Cruising)

2010 © Gregory Scott

For most of my life, the idea of a going on a cruise was not appealing. My first cruise completely changed my opinion. We are now on our 5th cruise. Here are some of the reasons for my about-face.

Cruising is the most relaxing way to see the world.  A cruise offers you the benefit of returning to the same room every night. No packing and unpacking or dragging luggage through train terminals and airports. When I’m on vacation I want to relax. Acting as a part-time porter for two weeks is not my idea of fun.

Cruising usually allows you to see more major destinations on your vacation than traveling conventionally. On this cruise we have visited four different countries and eight cities.

2010 © Gregory Scott

There is usually a choice of excursions at each destination, and you don’t have to worry about how to get to the sites.  You sign up for an excursion, are assigned to a guide who leads your group, speaks your language and answers your questions about the sites. Or, you can hire a private tour guide.

My biggest objection to cruising was the thought of the days at sea with nothing to do. I soon found my fear unwarranted. Most cruise ships are huge. The big ones have movie theaters, Broadway-type theaters, casinos, swimming pools, spas, fitness centers, jogging tracks, multiple bars, restaurants and shops. I’ll never forget the experience of looking down on Venice from 14 floors up as I ran around the track on the top deck. This morning I made my run while we were in the middle of the Aegean. Nothing but deep blue water on all sides for as far as the eye could see. Very cool.

2010 © Gregory Scott

And then there is the food and the service. You will usually have your choice of multiples restaurants ranging from a grille to a buffet and a five-star restaurant or two. Room service, at any time, night or day, is usually included in the cost of the rooms with balconies.

Lastly, if you are a learner like me, there is another reason to cruise. On every cruise I’ve been on, there has been a college professor who gave lectures on the history and culture of many of our destinations.

On a cruise to the Baltic we had the added bonus of a “port lecturer” named Frank, who would narrate in the lounge as we entered or left the port. Frank had such a broad range of knowledge and was so interesting we made it a point to always be there to hear him. Halfway through the cruise we dubbed ourselves “Frankophiles”, though we didn’t tell him that because we didn’t want him to think we were worshipping him or stalking him or anything weird like that.

2010 © Gregory Scott

Prices for cruises vary depending on the destination, the cruise line and the level of room you choose.  I would recommend choosing a good reputable cruise line and-very important—a room with a balcony. One of our favorite things is to sit out on the balcony on a cruise, talking, sipping wine or reading the Bible. And besides, I imagine one could get a bit stir crazy in a room with just a porthole.

Tomorrow…Ephesus! GS