Thursday, January 30, 2014
A Cruise? Not Normally My Style, But...
It's absolutely true. Cruises are not my style. I want to see the world, and I don't wish to have the view clouded by on board extravaganzas, all you can eat buffets, water slides, and casinos. If I want to shop, I'll shop in the area where I am vacationing. If I want to go to an amusement park, I'll find one. If I want to gamble, there's always Vegas. This cruising thing is not my style.
Then you add to it the growing number of stories about people getting sick on board cruise ships, and the ones that are breaking down or getting lost or running aground. Well, it's just ridiculous and why would I pay someone for that experience? I can have a bad time for a lot less pretty much anywhere. The world has plenty of bad experiences that you can have for free. Where was I going with this?
Ah yes, the exception to the rule. I do like to have an adventure, and there are sailing adventures out there. It is a cruise, and it's not the normal style. You won't find extravaganzas on board a sailing ship. You won't find a water slide on a schooner. What you will find is an adventure. Take to the seas like the old world used to do. Most tours include the option to pitch in and help the crew sail the ship. You can be part of the experience. Beat that.
You still get the sunsets. You still get great food. You still get to see all the ports that you get to see on a regular cruise, but it's different. It's a smaller group. There's a close relationship with the crew. You get to feel like a captain exploring the seven seas. This is about how it feels. This is about the experience. This is a real experience that you can't get on a regular cruise ship. This is where the seafood buffets stop and the beauty of the sea begins.
The Caribbean offers any number of cruises on sailing vessels. There are day cruises, pirate cruises, Windjammer Cruises, and many others. All of these are designed to take you to the beautiful ports of call like Grenada, the Grenadines, St. Maarten, the Caymans and so many others. There are companies where you can customize your cruise to go anywhere you want. There are companies where you can choose how much time you spend in a given port. Let the wind be your guide and see many things that you won't see on a standard Caribbean cruise. These ships go into smaller ports. They provide activities that the regular cruises don't, like swimming right in the ocean off the side of the ship. It's different than the cookie cutter variety cruise that most people take around the Caribbean.
It's a slower pace than the regular cruises, but that's part of the pleasure. The fact that they don't seem to be having a huge problem with people getting sick on them is a perk too.
This is the adventure. The pace is slow. The view is amazing. The food is still good. The groups are small, so you get to know people, make friends and even work together for the common good. Sailing is a feeling that you don't get on just any boat. There's a nostalgia or a freedom, I'm not sure which, that goes with it. If you join in with the crew you feel like you've really done something special with your vacation. It's something that you just have to do to understand the feeling. If you're looking for the experience, this is the one you should have. This is what it's really like to cruise around the islands. This is what it really feels like to sail on a ship. This is what an experience really is. It's not manufactured as a theme park for your entertainment. It's something that you will remember for a lifetime.
So, go and sail the Leeward Islands, see the Turks and Caicos, swim with turtles and dolphins, explore the Blue Hole, see a volcano, walk some old forts, party with the locals, and have a fabulous adventure. Sailing brings a cruise to life in the right way. It's not Vegas, but then again, why should it be?