“Won’t You Let Me Take You on a Sea Cruise?”

January 6, 2009, by Connie Stetson

The Manhattan restaurant aboard the Celebrity Mercury

The Manhattan restaurant aboard the Celebrity Mercury

“Won’t You Let Me Take You on a Sea Cruise?” or Woo-ee, Baby (Frankie Ford, 1959)

Pa and I just got back from our first sea cruise aboard the Celebrity Mercury and, in fact, 1959 seems to have been a banner year for most of the folks on board. I’m guessing that out of 1800 people, maybe 100 were my age or younger, and I’m 57. Not that there’s anything wrong with that. The geriatric set out-partied my young ass, and I’m no slouch in the party-hearty department.

Two weeks before we left, I got a call from our great travel pals, Joe and Ingrid, telling us to go online right now, where we found a $699 two-week trip leaving from Ft Lauderdale through the Panama Canal, taking in Cartagena, Columbia, Punta Arenas, Costa Rica, and then up the Pacific coast of Mexico to San Diego. An hour later we were booked. Now, none of us had ever been on a cruise ship before, and had pretty much decided that they were not our particular cup-of-tea, but the cost was so low and it is the only way to really see the Panama Canal after all, so what the hell, right?

Well, if you’ve never been on an ocean liner, they are cities at sea. Mini-Vegases with casinos, four pools, four hot tubs, spas, gyms (not that I ever saw anyone in the gym), a shopping mall, two discos, a cinema, a big theater, not sure how many bars (a lot), four restaurants, and all-day and all-night buffets laid out all over the ship. Wow! We were lost the entire time and located ourselves by asking if we were on the pizza side or the chicken wing side of the ship. (FYI—pizza, aft, chicken wings, fore.)

The upside of a cruise of this sort is ease and civility. You unpack only once and everything is done for you. Our cabin steward, Godwin, actually said to my husband as were on our way to a formal dinner, “You’re looking quite smart this evening, Sir” and I got rather used to being called “Madam” (the French pronunciation, thank you). Cool. The food was great, the service was unbelievable; how every waiter on the ship knew that I wanted a very dry vodka martini with two olives is a mystery. Okay—I drank a lot of ‘em, but not so many that they were talking amongst themselves. They have a system, okay?

The downside is you are on a floating resort and for two weeks you are with people who pretty much look just like you. You do not have the time to absorb the environment, the culture, the food, or to be with people in a foreign country. It’s traveling, but not travel. It’s fun for families. We saw a lot of anniversary and birthday celebrations. A cruise is a wonderful choice for folks who cannot really get around or who are by nature timid. Not that there’s anything wrong with that, of course. Choice is good. It’s all a buffet, baby.

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6 Responses to ““Won’t You Let Me Take You on a Sea Cruise?””

  1. kerry smith Says:

    Did you invite Godwin to come home with you??? Did you get enough to eat and drink???? Ker

  2. Carine Says:

    I’ve never been on a cruise because they’ve never appealed to me. But lately, more and more of my friends have mentioned the great cruise they went on for the first time because the idea never appealed to them before… Maybe age opens our minds? I’m thinking about it hard now that I know someone might tell me I look smart.

  3. Cat Says:

    My parents have been cruising for years. Alaska was a fave. I’m not a big fan of the stuck on a boat with a bunch of people you may or may not want to be in close quarters with type of vacation. Did the Love Boat to Mexico once, everyone got seasick. Looks like that’s the bargain holiday these days and boomers are jumping ship, I mean on board. Glad you enjoyed yourselves.

  4. Jeff S Says:

    People fly thousands of miles to Cruise to Alaska from Seattle. I could be at the cruise ship terminal after a 30 minute ferry ride, and I’ve never been there…….yet. All I can say is, I can watch all the Cruise Ships sail right past my house on the way to Alaska each summer. I have been on a cruise though. One of the fun parts was the last night at dinner. The Captain handed out “silly” awards. The final award was for the person who had lost the most weight on the cruise. When the Captain opened the envelope, it was empty. Never say they don’t feed you on a ship!

  5. dearpru Says:

    I agree with Carine. Age does open our (figurative) eyes even as our presbyopia shutters them. The realization that we’re on the downward slope of the bell curve hits hard around this time of our lives. Why not get our sea legs while we still can make it to the guardrail to vomit over the side? What’s the point of putting anything off until a more convenient time? What’s that? When you’re in a diaper and can be carried in along with the luggage? No thanks! Go on a Barefoot cruise, schedule a week-long kayak trip in the Hebrides, go to Canyon Ranch for a week with a girlfriend, run with the bulls in Pamplona, build homes with Habitat for Humanity. Say “yes” to everything while you still can! That’s what credit cards are for.

  6. Rebecca Floeter Says:

    So true! I did a cruise for my clients last year and I felt like an alien! I too am used to immersion vacations and not day trips that were populated with all the people I used to make fun of while I was slumming it on some remote beach. I had become one of them. But on the gluttony side, I still dream of the food and endless buffets. I said I’d never do one again, but like childbirth (which I’ve never experienced) the alienation and otherness I felt on the cruise melts away as I imagine being the “Peel Me A Grape” Queen again. If we all went on one together I think we’d have a good time!

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