Cruises, wasting time and treadmills with an ocean view.
Maybe you have heard the joke: “What is the easiest way of not seeing your in-laws for at least a month? Book them on a Carnival cruise!”
The cruise industry has been the focus of negative publicity in the past few months. Vacationers stranded in the middle of the sea ... no air-conditioning ... minimal food ... plugged toilets.
However, even before the recent string of misfortune I was not a fan of ocean cruises. A vacation can be relaxing, but it doesn’t need to be brain numbing. I am bored after the first day on a cruise ship; the best thing about the Captain’s Dinner is it signals that the cruise will soon be over.
Great vacations can be a soothing get away from work (i.e. lazily enjoying the ocean breeze in Hawaii), entertaining (gaming in Las Vegas or watching a Broadway production in the Big Apple) or intriguing/informational (making the rounds of museums and historical monuments in Washington D.C. or visiting Rome-Florence-Venice during a ten-day trek through Italy).
For me, cruises offer none of these pleasures, replacing them with 22,000 calories per day at the ever-present all-you-can-eat buffets. Sitting in a deck chair and staring out at the ocean or forking food in your mouth until you get sick are hardly components of leisure. Leaving the ship for a three-hour shore visit hardly gives you time to experience cities or see important sites.
Admittedly, cruises offer a great economic value, but I don’t think seven days of sitting around (OK 10 minutes of shuffleboard) and eating voluminous amounts of basically mediocre food are an improvement to the nation’s health. (Maybe cruisers should have to pay additional for Obamacare!)
I understand that most people will disagree. They see cruises as a luxurious absence from work. When they hear “cruise”, they look for their suitcases. When I hear “cruise”, I search for the Pepto-Bismol.
Don’t let my husband fool you. It’s not just cruising, vacationing in Hawaii leaves him cold. He would agree with Dustin Hoffman who said, “To me, there is nothing more grotesque than a vacation.” He doesn’t vacation, he trips. Anything that allows for more than two hours pool time, beach time, or simply staring into space and breathing is unnatural and a waste of time to him.
Take the man to Paris and he would rather spend endless time at the Louvre than sit for 10 minutes at an outdoor cafe. Once in Portugal I nearly had to stage a coup in order for him to try one of their world-famous pastries at a sidewalk bakery. He wanted to get it “to go” and keep on walking. It’s no surprise that the ultimate in vacation, the cruise, makes him run the other way.
It’s true that the temptation to overindulge is strong on the megaships, but if you resist, you will be much happier. Just because you can order two entrees or get ice cream 24-hours a day, doesn’t mean you should. Likewise, if you routinely hit the gym, don’t stop exercising. Cruise ships have beautiful workout facilities and running on a treadmill with the ocean in front of you is a rare treat.
On a cruise to Alaska, my daughter and I made it a point to choose the most active shore excursions available; hiking, biking, and kayaking. On board, we curled up with books and passed the sea days in happy contentment.
I love trips where every day is a challenge of endurance and logistics, but a true vacation where the most troubling thought is when to go to the beach or the pool and when to take a nap is nothing to shake a passport at.