By Patti Pietschmann Travel Diva
My husband Richard and I have taken cruises of all lengths. Even over night ones (special for journalists). The most carefree and glorious were 28 days long on Silversea and Crystal. And I do say they were so special we never wanted to get off.
Longer cruises mean quality time together. Time to toss that stress to the wake.
Much to do on a cruise
For exercise we jogged, swam, worked out in the gym, and took private Pilates classes. To bliss further out we had massages, facials and assorted body treatments.
To stimulate our minds we attended riveting lectures and learned languages. We also saw late run movies and read several books from the free library.
Not to worry about losing touch with friends and family. Thanks to free WiFi we wrote emails and social media posts. Naturally, as travel writers, we also filed several articles. We made new friends, went to musical and comedy shows, sunned, relaxed and visited several countries.
Who says there’s nothing to do on a cruise? Some folks, but they are wrong. Very wrong.
When we tell friends and family that we’re taking such a long voyage they invariably raise an eyebrow and comment, “Won’t you be bored? Whatever will you do?”
Plenty folks. Contrary to popular belief, days on board a ship can be as chuck full as you’d like. Especially today, and of course if you select he right ship and stateroom.
We prefer small luxury liners with suites and verandas. The bigger the quarters the better for longer voyages. However folks who really want non-stop activities should lean toward mega ships operated by Royal Caribbean, Princess, Holland America, MSC, Celebrity and the like. And if you’re going to be on board for weeks at a time, it’s best to book a suite.
Some of those behemoth sport rock climbing walls, a bowling alley, racing rack, huge fitness centers, generous spas, basketball courts, paddle tennis, golf and more. There are casinos for gambling types, lavish shows and of course ports of call to explore. Now tell me who could be bored.
Food, fabulous food
The food on ships has improved greatly over the years, especially in the alternative dining venues. (Pictured above is a veal chop cooking at Hot Rocks on Silversea Silver Shadow). This wasn’t true when we first started cruising about 20-something years ago. And that yes, there were days at sea that ennui overwhelmed us. But that was then and this is now.
Silversea is one special cruise line. They just get it right. One of our longest journeys on the line was from Los Angeles to Auckland with stops in Ensenada, the Hawaiian Islands, Tonga, Samoa and New Zealand. There were glorious days during which we did all those aforementioned activities.
We enjoyed watching movies in our suite. Had breakfasts and dinner on our balcony. Went to afternoon tea. Hit the casino.
We worked off our indulgences in exercise classes led by a Romanian fitness instructor who worked our abs, butts, upper and lower bodies and taught us Pilates and Yoga.
The Silversea difference
Silversea stands out for it compact luxury, personalized service, fine dining, and an all-encompassing tab. All potables are free (including Champagne). Your tips are covered. Shuttle service is offered in most ports. There are free laundromats. Guest mingle easily at open bars and in the lounges. Many become fast friends meeting same time next year for another cruise.
The crew on these ships is some of friendliest afloat. One time there was Ricky, from Manila, a deck steward and sometimes barkeep who went out of his way to service passengers. Nick, the regular pool bartender, an outgoing Kiwi kept folks happy with powerful pours of their favorite brand
On Silversea Dr. Dieter Arnulf Galler offered opinionated but fascinating tales of Tonga, New Zealand and the south Pacific. Beloved, omnipotent veteran cruise director Ray Solaire (not sure where he is now) kept passengers content with fun and games. Amiable Anne the social director taught Spanish and accompanied shore excursions. She and Ray also acted on stage in a short play written by the latter.
On Silversea ships everybody becomes one big happy family. Stewardesses not only keep suites in tip top shape but they lay out your bed clothes, hang your laundry and stock your fridge with water and supplies.
During a three-week-plus cruise from New York to Los Angeles on Crystal Serenity spellbinding lectures provided mental stimulation. Crystal also has well-stocked libraries.
Ports of call
While we never wonted for activities on sea days, ports of calls were always welcomed. Silversea and Crystal often provide transportation from ship to shore in port. There are also lots of shore excursions from which to choose.
In Samoa we took a tour led by a savvy guide named Julie who told us that the natives eat only two meals a day but “snack frequently.” Sounded like a being on a cruise. We went by van to a local beach where Beverly Hills attorneys run the restaurant. Go figure.
We swam in the crystal clear, but rather shallow sea and sunned until heading back to the ship. We made an unscheduled substitute stop in Nuku’Alofa, Tonga due to inclement weather where we were supposed to dock in Figi. Who among you have been there? Even though Silversea pax are well traveled this was new for most of us and fascinating.
We booked a tour to an island. But before we were able to board the little boat, we were given a mandatory excursion to see the sites and markets of the city. The pristine island was worth the wait with its warm, transparent waters and friendly natives who entertained us with local dance routines.
Steaming to New Zealand
From there we steamed to New Zealand. It was our first visit to this retro 1950s scene where locals go at a slow pace enjoying life to the fullest at the beach, in sailboats, sitting in cafes or restaurants and taking time to smell the roses. In Tauranga we hiked around a The Mount and went to the beach; in the Bay of Islands we walked around the cute, picture postcard town and walked about 2 miles to the nearest beach. Guess you get the point that we like the beach a lot. A whole lot.
The days flew by—all 28 of them. We even lost a day when we passed through the International Date Line. I missed it, it would have been an added 24 hours. We were sad to disembark in Auckland. In fact we wished we could have stayed on the extra 9 days to Sidney. But alas all good things must come to an end. And we had several hours to spend before catching the long, 12-hour flight home. A very long, bumpy ride.
The joys of cruising
Just remember cruising means only having to pack and unpack once; eliminating of flying—which concerns most of us during these trying times. (Our LA to Auckland cruise entailed only one flight, back to LA from Auckland). You can visit several countries or islands effortlessly, have all your meals and activities at your beck and call usually for no extra charge save for shore excursions and spa treatments.
Cruising is one of the most therapeutic, exciting ways to vacation. And with more modern ships providing contemporary and high tech comforts and amenities it’s better than ever.
FYI: it takes most passengers at least a week to get their sea legs and routine in rock motion, which is why the Savvy Seafarer recommends cruises of at least two weeks, but try a world cruise or an 18 dayer and you’ll never go back to short hops again. If you really want a long, luxurious voyage, book a World Cruise.
Whatever your preference Pavlus can make it happen. Just call or contact a special agent on the website.