At 16 years old, I was a thrill-seeking teenager who thought that jumping out of an airplane would fulfill my lust for adventure. As fate would have it, my first jump proved to be my last as two malfunctioning parachutes had me plummet 3,000 feet, leaving quite a dent in a farmer’s field, not to mention what it did to the rest of me.
Less than a year later my life resumed with my passion for adventure still intact. I adapted to life on wheels. Traveling became one of my greatest pleasures. I began a love affair with cruising and 25 years later I’m still hooked.
If you’ve never been on a cruise, here’s a glimpse into my seven favorite sins at sea that keep me coming back for more:
- White Glove Service... It has long been my suspicion that I was born into royalty and inadvertently switched at birth. One cruise with SkySuite, which included a personal butler, reaffirmed it for me. You have no idea how much I enjoyed being pampered like a princess. For a fortnight, he was at my beck and call and I wanted for nothing. This has been one of my best indulgences, and my shoes have never been shinier!
- Love Boats... You and your someone, a beautiful sunset, dinner by candlelight in a fine restaurant, a stroll on the deck under the stars, returning to your stateroom, slipping out of your evening wear and into matching terrycloth bathrobes, enjoying a nightcap on your private balcony, the sound of waves lapping against the ship. I’ll leave the rest to your imagination. For me, cruising and romance are synonymous.
- Pleasures of the Palate... I love to eat almost as much as I love romance. I’ll order breakfast to my stateroom, breakfast in bed or on the balcony. For lunch, perhaps a hamburger by poolside. Or if the mood strikes, more sophisticated fare at a window table overlooking the ocean. In the evening, I want it all – an appetizer or two, a salad, an entrée, dessert and coffee – there’s so much to choose from. Did I mention the “spa menu” for those wishing to enjoy a cruise and lose weight at the same time? I’ve heard it’s very good too.
- Never Bored On Board... Cruise ships are destinations unto themselves - floating resorts at sea. Between the casinos, movies, gym, spa, pools, sports deck, exercise classes, guest lectures and cooking classes, not to mention the spectacular shows in the evening, there is something to suit every taste. That said, one of my greatest pleasures on board is doing nothing. I love multiple days at sea enjoying the bliss of doing nothing more than lounging in the sun in a hidden little nook on the ship with a good book in one hand, and a cold drink in the other. Ah, the life!
- Pamper Me Please... Laying naked on a padded table in a candlelit room, the smell of incense around me, soothing music, and Adonis gently massaging warm, scented oils into my every muscle. On the table beside me, my hubby seems to be enjoying the experience just as much. I resist the temptation to fall asleep, wanting to enjoy every moment of this very sensual experience.
- All Decked Out... Call me a traditionalist, but I love the pomp that goes along with formal nights aboard a cruise ship. Men in tuxedoes, officers in uniforms, women in long, jewel-laden sequined gowns… I feel like I’m part of a movie-set. Champagne flows and cameras flash as we rub shoulders with the captain. An elegant evening in an elegant dining room follows, complete the fairy-tale ambience. I may not be a princess but it’s nice to pretend.
- Fantasy Islands... Watching reruns of Gilligan’s Island was part of my youth and it ingrained in me a romantic notion of being castaway on a desert island. Just my luck that several cruise lines have their own private islands. While the islands offer an endless array of activities from beach volleyball, snorkeling, parasailing, windsurfing, horseback riding and banana boating, my choice is board a beach wheelchair and head for the ocean side. In the past I’ve only been able to admire the ocean from afar. This is a true taste of paradise.
Travel can be more challenging for wheelchair users, but cruise lines are leaders in the industry when it comes to accessibility allowing me to sample destinations I may otherwise never have been able to access. Roomy staterooms, large bathrooms with roll-in showers, grab bars, tilted mirrors, recessed vanities, pool lifts, elevators, automatic doors and lift-equipped transfer vehicles are just some of the accessibility features offered by many of the cruise lines.
And with a crew to passenger ratio of about one to 1.5, there’s always a helpful crew member at hand. With so many destinations, you can travel the world secure in the knowledge that, at the end of the day, you can return to your own personal and accessible accommodation.
Cruising may be the greatest passport to the world and I hope to live long enough to truly satisfy my appetite.
Choosing the Right Cruise for You
Not all cruise lines are created equal. Each tends to cater to different tastes and demographics. Some are more attentive to the needs of passengers with disabilities than others. The cost of cruises varies considerably from line to line based on the type of stateroom, destination and time of year.
Your best bet is to book through a travel agent who is familiar with the ins and outs of accessibility and who has CLIA (Cruise Lines International Association) accreditation – ACC, MCC or ECC. Be sure to be honest and upfront about your budget, your accessibility needs, your expectations and desires. There is a cruise for everyone but one person’s heaven can be another person’s hell. Your cruise specialist should be someone who can open that gateway to heaven.
Travel Agent, SeaWheels.ca