I’ve been pondering whether I should take a cruise ever since I listened to a BlogTalk Radio program hosted by Aireslibre Personal Travel about cruise deals a few months ago.
I’ve never really thought to take a cruise ship as a travel option, but after listening to the broadcast and hearing personal experiences of bloggers and friends, I decided to keep an open mind. Last week, I welcomed the opportunity to take a tour of Celebrity Cruises Millennium ship while it was at port in San Francisco.
Walking up the gangway, I was struck by how huge the ship was. I’d only seen these ships from a distance before. The Millennium is 91,000 tons, 965 feet in length, carries a maximum of 2,035 passengers, and it’s not even the largest in the Celebrity fleet.
It was quiet on board since most of the passengers were off exploring the city of San Francisco for the day, but I could imagine what it would be like when all 2,035 were back on the ship. Indeed, you are around a lot of people for several days and for some that’s exactly what they like about a cruise. However, as I walked through various parts of the ship, it seemed that it would be easy enough to find more secluded lounges and seating areas. The staterooms with verandas would also be nice for getting away from the crowds for a while. Basically, you can spend as much or as little time socializing as you like.
I don’t think I’ve ever heard someone talk about a cruise without mentioning food. There are plenty of food and beverage options on the Millennium. In the main dining room I had a 5-course lunch of Roasted Portobello Mushroom, Creamed Sweet Corn Bisque, Mixed Green Salad, Braised Beef Short Rib, and Warm Chocolate-Hazelnut Pudding. Touring the more intimate Olympic restaurant, I got a sense of elegant cruise dining. There are also casual cafés, snack areas, cocktail lounges and room service. I liked the organic food offerings as well as a Champagne High Tea.
I learned that this particular class of ship offers many balanced lifestyle activities. The Millennium has an impressive selection of educational programs, entertainment venues, and wellness services. I’m sure the range and quality of amenities vary widely across cruise lines and ships.
In addition to an art gallery, there are eclectic works of art throughout the ship. In an unexpected location next to one of the ladies’ restrooms, I noticed a small display case with a single silver shoe. It was an Andy Warhol piece from 1956.
Security personnel, waiters, spa professionals and other staff members I saw were all very friendly and attentive. You are pampered and attended to on a ship and that just might be what you need sometimes.
As with any type of travel – road trips, train travel, backpacking, slow travel, quick getaways, sightseeing excursions, adventure travel, etc. – there are countless variations depending upon what the individual traveler wants to experience. The same goes for cruises and there may be circumstances where a cruise is an attractive and viable option. Although there’s not enough time in any port of call to be immersed in a different culture or see every important site, that’s not always possible no matter how you travel. A sampling of several places may be enough to satisfy your interest or it may give you a desire to revisit and explore a destination another time.
Because there are so many choices when it comes to selecting a cruise, I think that it would be very helpful to work with a travel agent to help determine the best cruise lines, accommodations, deals and itineraries.
So now a cruise is on my travel options list. In fact, I’ve been leafing through a Celebrity brochure and a 6-day Mediterranean cruise departing from Barcelona in August is catching my eye.