First Cruise

Pam and I took our first cruise almost 20 years ago, and one was all it took. We were hooked.

Like many people, we never thought cruising was for us. While we both had a lifelong love of travel, it always involved exploring the world by train, plane and automobile. A cruise seemed too confining, too regimented. It was travel for people who like their vacations programmed. But on a lark, we decided to give it a try.

We chose a seven-day, fall foliage cruise on Carnival out of New York. We were living in Dallas at the time, but loved any excuse to visit the Big Apple, where our son lived. It included stops in Canada, to places we hadn’t visited. Who knows, it could be fun.

Then, just a few weeks prior to our departure, 9-11 happened and the world was forever changed.

As you might expect, we thought the cruise would be canceled in light of what was going on. Instead, Carnival informed us the cruise would  occur, but the departure port had been changed to Boston. Wait a minute — that wasn’t the cruise we booked.

After several weeks of calls and wrangling, Carnival agreed to credit us for a future cruise, which turned out to be a four-day excursion to Mexico sailing from Galveston. It was a total blast.

We discovered that a cruise vacation offers many advantages, including:

— Lodging and meals are part of the deal. Not only could you find something to eat pretty much 24/7, but also you can get room service as well.

— Entertainment. You could opt to see a full-blown song and dance production, go to one of the clubs, even display your talent — or lack thereof — at karaoke or dance lessons.

— See new places. While we had traveled to Mexico on many occasions, is was great to sail to the “front door” and take your pick of shore excursions, all without packing or unpacking a suitcase.

Yes, there were programmed activities available around the clock, but you get to decide what kind of vacation you want — playing trivia or relaxing on a lounger with a drink and a good book. Plus the added bonus of meeting new people and making new friendships.

Dollar for dollar, we thought it was one of the best travel bargains to be found, and still do, some 50 cruises later. The funny thing is, despite cruising all over the world, there’s still one cruise we’ve never taken — a fall foliage cruise. Go figure.

Photo: A selfie at The Baths

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