Surviving a long cruise. Say what? The words “survive” and “cruise” don’t go together. But you’d be surprised at how frequently Alan and I are asked about how we survive our long cruises. After the 52-day cruise from Vancouver to Singapore last year, many of our baby boomer travel friends were curious about spending that much time on the sea, away from home. So to answer your questions, I’ve interviewed myself in the first of my new “Survivor” series.
Why do you take such long cruises?
Long cruises are an excellent way to visit far-flung, exotic places. It gives us a small taste of a destination, setting the stage for future land trips. We prefer to either begin or end in the U.S., which means only one long flight, either on the way to the cruise or on the return home.
We like unpacking once and being done with it.
A lengthy cruise gives us time to enjoy the ship. On seven-day, port intensive cruises, it’s hard to fit in day-long tours, nightly entertainment, plus rest and relaxation.
Are long cruises boring?
Heavens no. Long cruises are so jam-packed with activities that it can become overwhelming. And friendships develop with other cruise passengers, giving us the chance to meet interesting people.
What do you do on sea days?
Attend lectures, read a book, play bridge, check email, take an exercise class, attend a wine tasting, organize photos, walk on the outdoor track, play paddle tennis, learn about the next port, watch flying fish from the balcony, wash clothes, sit by the pool or simply gaze at the sea and do nothing. Oh, I almost forgot— take a nap, especially after a late night of dancing.
Do you get tired of being on the ship?
Occasionally, one of us will become tired of the ship. That usually occurs from trying to do too much and not pacing our activities. And it doesn’t last long.
On our Vancouver to Singapore cruise, Mariner offered several overnight trips that gave us a chance to get off the ship for a night or two. Alan and I spent two nights in Beijing plus one night in Bangkok. It was just the break we needed.
Do you miss friends and family?
Of course we miss our friends and family. We stay in touch through email and phone calls but it’s a challenge when there’s a huge time difference. Because of our many days sailing on Regent, we qualify for free internet and several hours of free phone time, which helps. Many cruisers keep travel blogs, another good way to stay in touch.
Do you get tired of living in such a small space?
No, not at all. On Regent, all cabins come in a roomy, suite arrangement that includes a balcony. There’s plenty of storage. As long as we stay organized to eliminate clutter, we’re fine. Alan and I spend most of our time out and about doing things, although we do love our time on the balcony.
How do you and Alan stand all of that togetherness?
We’ve developed a daily rhythm that works for us. On sea days, Alan and I enjoy breakfast together, then go our separate ways. Alan might attend a lecture while I head to the Observation Lounge to catch up on blog work. We meet back for lunch, then each do our own thing again. By late afternoon, we’re ready to reconnect as we share a glass of wine on the balcony before heading to dinner followed by a show or dancing.
Do you get seasick?
Yes, I do if the seas are rough. Most cruise ships have stabilizers, so the ride is usually smooth. We try to book a cabin that’s low and in the middle of the ship. Although, on our last cruise, we were at the back of the ship and I had no problems. I bring Bonine to take when the ship rocks and rolls from a storm.
What happens if you become ill?
For minor illnesses, Alan and I rest, eat light and consult our stash of over-the-counter medicines that we’ve packed. If a doctor’s opinion is required, we visit the ship’s infirmary, (the fee is charged to our shipboard account). It’s important to remember to bring copies of any prescriptions that you take. We also join a medical evacuation program, in case there’s a major problem and we need to be medevaced back home. And, we wash our hands — often. Yes, we’re that couple who brings a small bottle of hand sanitizer to dinner. We use it after handling the menus. Do you know how many germs are on menus? Think about it.
Do you find the food boring? Are there healthy choices?
With several dining venues, the food never gets boring. Although, we sometimes long for a simple meal. That’s when we order a room service pizza or hamburger. On Regent, the main restaurant, Compass Rose, includes a healthy choice selection on the menu. Now that they’ve associated with Canyon Ranch Spa, I’m anxious to see if a spa menu develops. Of course the challenge comes with having enough self-discipline to skip the rich gourmet meal and choose the healthy one.
How do you keep fit?
With a fully equipped gym plus numerous exercise classes, staying fit is not the problem. Finding the time to stay fit is the issue, and one I haven’t conquered yet. Many cruisers walk the track on deck or make it a point to use the stairs rather than the elevator. Picking active cruise excursions also keeps the activity level high.
Are you planning another long cruise?
We almost always have one in the works. This fall Alan and I will be trying a new to us cruise line. We’re sailing the Seabourn Sojourn on a 21-day cruise from Rome to Ft. Lauderdale with stops in Florence, Monte Carlo, Marseille, Barcelona, Malaga, Gibraltar, Lisbon and Maderia before heading across the Atlantic. And who will be joining us? Friends we met while cruising. Update 8.1.2014: We did take that Seabourn Sojourn Atlantic crossing in the fall of 2010. What did we think about it? Check out our review.
What do you like most about long cruises?
The small surprises that we don’t anticipate are the most fun for us. It might be the cultural entertainment that greets us on the dock as we step down the gangway. On one cruise, the captain arranged a rendezvous with a container ship. The crews hooted and hollered at each other as both ships blasted music across the small expanse of ocean that separated us.
But mostly, Alan and I appreciate the connection we make with the crew, who become like family to us.