posted on Nov, 7 2006 @ 02:52 PM
I returned from a cruise of the Eastern Caribbean just a couple of weeks ago. I had never been on a cruise before and I really didn't know what to
expect. I must admit that I had many preconceived notions about this sort of vacation; nothing to do on the ship, confined spaces, sea-sickness, in
general boredom. I really thought that cruises were either something that "old" folks go on or, conversely, young singles (I didn't want either a
floating retirement home or to be held captive in a giant "singles bar".
All I can say is that all my preconceived notions were dashed. Yes, there were bars -- two dozen of them -- but each had their own particular
ambiance, view and motif. It was enjoyable simply to visit each one to spend time enjoying the atmosphere....really. There was a casino (I lost
fifty bucks but I had fun) but it was fun to do something different and, yes, it was exciting. Every evening there was a las Vegas style show in the
800 seat theater. The theater alone was magnificent but the shows were excellent as well. I saw an illusionist perform and, frankly, I'm still
scratching my head as to how he made a running Harley Davidson motorcycle disappear "right in front of our eyes". One second the bike was
there.....presto....it was gone. No smoke, no mirrors, it was just gone (I must have blinked but how did the illusionist get all 800 of us to blink
The food was incredible. Every day we had our choice of meals in different restaurants. From Lobster Tails to hamburgers, the fare was simply
divine. I'm not one who likes things overly "fancy shmancy" but I must say that it was a rare treat to be served gourmet meals by an experienced
team of maitre de, wine stewards, waiters and servers. It was incredible. I won't even go into the deserts except to say that I'm already planning
on starting a new regime of sit-ups, push ups and other exercises. Somehow I didn't mind putting on a few extra pounds as it wasn't the usual
overindulgence of potato chips in front of the tv that was the culprit.
The ship, the MS Westerdam, carried over 1,800 passengers. The people were from all walks of life and from around the world. Yes, the passengers
seemed to be mostly from the U.S. but there were Canadians, Dutch, Germans and Brits on board. I met some wonderfully interesting people on board.
The ship itself was magnificent and, to put it mildly, massive. I spent an hour or two wandering the ship "exploring" and I have to admit that I
never covered the entire ship at all.
We didn't bring our kids along but if we had, the kids would have had plenty to do as well. There were two swimming pools on board, a large video
gaming room, a "teen hangout" with X-Box, an amazing stereo system and plenty of planned activities to keep the younger set out of the way, so to
And this was just the ship. Our seven day cruise took us to Turks-Caicos Islands, Tortola in the British Virgin Islands, St. Martin's and Half Moon
Bay in the Bahamas. All I can say was that the islands were beautiful -- spectacular. My own favorite was St. Martins'. The island is half Dutch
and the other half is French. Both sides of the island kept the atmosphere and genuine flavor of being in Holland or, for that matter, in France. It
was a wonderful place.
On the Islands, there was plenty to do. Besides exploring, taking tours, shopping and eating, there were plenty of activities such as snorkeling,
scuba diving, sailing, horse-back riding, para-sailing etc. The list of things to do was really quite extensive.
I would wholeheartedly recommend a cruise. As far as expense goes, this trip really was inexpensive and comparable to flying to a destination and
spending a week at a good hotel. The real value is in the on-board entertainment, activities and, of course, the food -- tons of food.