Saturday, September 28, 2013

Landmark 100th cruise excites our cruise-crazy lovers

Escape to a world of dreams, moonlight and indulgence on a barge trip or cruise.

Try a relaxing week on the water for a rejuvenating break

I have sailed the world, beheld its wonders,
from the Dardanelles to the mountains of Peru.....
--from "Sweeney Todd" and the song, "No Place Like London"

One of the world/s prettiest harbors is in St. Thomas.

LIKE Anthony in "Sweeney Todd," we have sailed the world, beheld its wonders.
If we had to pick a favorite destination, it would be difficult.
Ocean crossings, canal cruises, fjord trips, wine tasting our way through the Loire Valley, a barge-and-hike trek through Picardy.... a river cruise to marvel at the cathedrals of Eastern Europe and the Danube, drinking in Holland's springtime in a blaze of tulips.
BARGING OUT of London beneath Tower Bridge on the Thames. Biking and imbibing through Burgundy.  All so wonderful, so glorious, so exotic in their ability to transport one to other worlds.
Dance, romance, dine, enjoy on the water.
GIVE ME a week on the water and I'm a new girl: refreshed, rested, excited for the next adventure.  I love cruising and barging for myriad reasons: music, reading, gourmet fare, nature viewing, long evenings of Broadway revues, star gazing, lazing with the world passing by. Dancing, romancing, cuddling, cavorting!
Whether on a thousand-person cruise ship or an eight-passenger barge such as the classic Anjodi or La Belle Epoque, a trip on the water is guaranteed to cure what ails you.
WHILE MY recent 100th cruise is a landmark, it was never a goal. It just happened, year by year, traveling since the 1960s, a couple or three cruises or barge trips a year.
The ship's attention to service is a part of the appeal. 
Cruising is a balm in times of heartbreak and loss. After each of  my husbands died, I took to the sea.  It is equally satisfying to take to water in times of joy -- to
European Waterways offers delightful barge cruises.
celebrate anniversaries,  toast a parent's birthday, gather the clan for a reunion, or simply escape to indulgence with your partner, enjoying your ship's superb service.
KELLER AND I celebrated my "Cruise Centennial" in Alaska, combining a toast to my own August birthday and his September natal day. (The Alaska cruise, aboard Carnival's Miracle, marked mid-point between our two birthdays.)
My eternal wanderlust will never be satisfied.
I'll always have a ticket in the drawer.
The Norway, formerly the
SS France, a true liner.
Aboard Carnival, Captain
Luca Lazzarino hosted
the writer and photographer
in the bridge for "cruise 100."
 I've cruised, sailed and barged into exotic ports and rivers in Vietnam and China.  I've cruised into New Zealand's south island and fished for trout the size of salmon. Cruise ships, yachts and barges have taken me exploring --  to the wonders of India and Turkey, the splendors of St. Petersburg, the glory of chateaux country and champagne cellars in France. Barge cruising has taken me through the Loire valley, sipping and supping in Champagne and Burgundy, traversing Holland at tulip time and enjoying a marathon of plays in Stratford Upon Avon, departing the barge for a quick walk to the theater.
The Queen Elizabeth II
may rank as the writer's favorite.
My sisters and I have cruised Holland America to the breathtaking Alaskan fjords, and deep into the Dutch Antilles on Princess, Royal Caribbean and the lovely Odyssey.  I twice cruised on the splendid Norway, formerly the SS France, one of the day's great liners.
Cookie has her cake and eats it, too -- two cakes
 courtesy Carnival's Captain Lazzarino. 
The QEII may be my favorite all time ship -- for I've crossed the Atlantic on her many times, both east- and west-bound.  Ah, such memories, such advantages to water travel: you pack and unpack once, see a new port or village each day, make lively friends, dine on delicious, custom-prepared fare.
My 100th cruise is history now, but as with all cruises, memories linger. During our recent odyssey from Seattle to the splendid southeast Alaskan coast, we were welcomed aboard Carnival's Miracle with fanfare from our
charming Italian captain, Luca Lazzarino. He presented us with a handsome "100th cruise" poster congratulating us on the landmark. He had the chef craft two splendid cakes in honor of the cruising centenary. He honored us at a cocktail party for the guest naturalist, officers and the "Miracle team."
Crystal's Symphony at sea,
ranked one of the world's top
mid-sized cruise ships.
Cookie sometimes combines her two favorite pursuits
-- cruising and playing the piano!
Fellow seamen asked what attracted us to cruising and where future cruises will take us.  We're enjoying the perks of "Diamond status" with Royal Caribbean, crossing the Atlantic again in late fall, sailing out of Barcelona. And we'll transit the newly enlarged Panama Canal in April. Beyond then?
BROCHURES ARE piling up: Crystal, Oceania, Celebrity, Princess, Royal Caribbean, Norwegian Cruise Line, Cunard, Holland America, Carnival, Disney, Windstar.  We may
A rainbow is a good omen for our cruisers, here from their suite
on Tagus River harbor at the elegant Altis Belem in Lisbon, Portugal.
revisit favorite barge and canal cruises on smaller enterprises such as the elegant European Waterways and its beautiful retinue. Part of water travel is savoring each port, taking side trips to wondrous sights.
My goal is to  take a "round the world" cruise -- around 60 to 85 days. I'd love to book an owner's suite complete with a grand piano.  I've played in many ship lounges and cocktail venues, always with permission when friends have approached the hotel director to gain approval. But a piano in my penthouse? Sign me up now.

Keller and Cookie at the Monument to the Discoveries in Lisbon.
COMING UP: Travel with us to the picturesque harbor and the view from the Altis Belém Hotel and Spa, a five-star design hotel in Lisbon.  Located in Belém overlooking the Tagus River, the Altis Belem offers a contemporary view of the Golden Age of Discovery. Portugal's proud nautical history is reflected in wall panels transporting pampered guests to exotic places: Mauritania on Africa's West coast, Arabia, India, Siam, Osaka and across the ocean to Brazil. We cruised there in comfort of a Royal Caribbean suite. Remember to explore, learn, live and visit us Wednesdays and Saturdays at: 

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