This is a particularly popular time of year for
cruising. Lots of families have come to enjoy
the opportunity to visit and explore new places
by water. Cruise companies know that and have
taken to building bigger ships to take advantage
of this growing trend. And I mean BIGGER!
The largest cruise ship afloat these days is
almost the length of four football fields and it
has a crew of nearly 2,300 taking care of 5,400
passengers. That’s 7,800 people on one ship,
enough people on board for a small town. By the
way, this particular vessel boasts seven
neighborhoods and some 25 restaurants and
activities galore from lots of entertainment
venues to amusement attractions that undoubtedly
make some theme parks take notice.
I can just imagine the miles of buffet lines,
labyrinth of interior passageways, slot machine
choices and plethora of drink umbrellas. Just
image, the entire ship goes to one little island
and everyone gets off for a few hours and
snorkels around the same fish. The next day they
are allowed off the ship to go shopping for
tourist trinkets and when they get back to the
vessel they can slide their credit card through
more machines and acquire still more trinkets.
I’m sure such a mega-cruiser has its fans, but I
worry about those who are turned off by this on
water largesse. These monster ships will make
some cruisers turn away from boating all
together. Now, that’s a shame.
That’s not for me. I vote for the little ship
that could, something with two or maybe three
cabins instead of two or three thousand cabins.
What a difference a boat makes. One has more
than 20 restaurants. The other has one galley
and a small fridge. One has chefs, captains and
waiters by the hundreds. The other requires you
to bring your own groceries and you have to do
your own cooking. One plies the high seas. The
other cruises smoothly along a placid coastal
waterway framed by mangrove wilderness.
My vessel doesn’t have an activities staff; it
doesn’t have an ATM; it doesn’t have an onboard
hospital. In fact, it doesn’t have a schedule
unless you say so. If it’s Tuesday, it won’t be
Belgium but just tell the captain and you could
be on Sanibel Island, Captiva Island, Cabbage
Key, Useppa Island, or a beach you’ll have all
to yourself on Cayo Costa.
The little boat that could doesn’t have line
dance contests nor does it have stop lights to
handle onboard pedestrian traffic. Passengers
don’t cut into the buffet line to take the last
shrimp. On my cruise ship, dressing up for
a meal means pulling a tee shirt over your
swimsuit. After your delicious repast -- Hey,
you bought the groceries -- prepared by loving
hands in the private galley, you can have drinks
on the aft deck.
There is no disco, no line dancing, no ballroom
waltzes. But if you want to shake a leg you can
climb the steps to the fly bridge and whoop and
holler a bit. Just a bit, though. Or, you may
prefer to just sit in silent pleasure as the
Florida sun sinks behind those dramatic clouds
on the horizon.
Put this information in your vacation planner.
And the next time you’re thinking about a
cruise, think small. Like two or three cabins