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Cruising the Mediterranean, Epilogue

October 20th, 2019 · No Comments · tourism, Travel

We had a fine time. Almost-perfect weather, from Venice straight through to Rome/Civitavecchia, plenty to see and do but also time for relaxation and conversation.

A look back at 10 nights and 11 days onboard the Celebrity Constellation, fixing some oversights and passing on some thoughts about the trip.

–May and October continue to be the best months for cruising the warmer areas of the planet. The risk of cool and wet weather is there … but it is worth chancing, especially when factoring in what often are prices significantly lower than the high season of June, July, August and September. Maybe we were lucky, during our 11-day run of sun, but that was not the first time we have sailed through those months without resorting to foul-weather gear.

I did not take a jacket with me, nor a scrap of water-resistant gear. Sweaters and sweatshirts were enough.

–I neglected, the other day, to note the lavish, Champagne-driven pairings feast gifted me as a birthday present by my in-laws. I am fairly confident I will never again be at a meal that features five varieties of the bubbly from the cellars of Veuve Clicquot.

–The Adriatic Sea, and especially Croatia’s Dalmatia coast, are underrated. But less so by the day. Seemingly everyone knows about Dubrovnik, and the people there have grown a bit jaded toward visitors, but Split has not yet been spoiled, and neither has Kotor, in neighboring Montenegro.

–I never got around to investigating why the Constellation, at least, has all but closed off a wide space for promenading on the 5th deck. What used to be a full circle of open air for walkers, joggers or runners, with more than a few sun-bathers resting on chaise longues, has disappeared, with the bow and aft areas fenced off from passengers’ use. I remember happily doing complete laps on ships that now seem focused inward. A loss.

–Another change, and I doubt it was a coincidence: Not one comedian appeared as the evening entertainment — the first time that was the case in any of my cruises of more than a few days. It reinforces a sense that humor is under social assault, and literally any witticism will enrage someone — so cruises are doing without. That made for lots and lots of vigorous singing and dancing. Too much of it, actually.

–Cruise lines seem to be getting bolder in their attempts get you to spend money onboard. Stuff you don’t need. Next to the casino is an area that, at night, is full of luxury items, jewelry and watches mostly, perhaps for those who had a few minutes of luck on the roulette tables.

–Related thought: With a little research, your cruise budget can be stretched. The ships charge a lot of money to lead cruisers through oversubscribed onshore tours, but a little research can yield much lower charges from perfectly fine companies not affiliated with the cruise line.

–Cruising remains the easiest way to get at least a sense of the wider world. Being able to unpack your bags just the one time and take advantage of perfectly acceptable, and sometimes quite good meals … leaves the passenger time and opportunity to go ashore in a country you might never have visited, otherwise. We added a couple of countries to our “been there” list on this cruise — Montenegro and Malta. Some cruisers are reticent about going off on their own, but the basic caution you would have in any foreign country should be enough to keep you out of trouble at cruise ports of call.

–Cruising remains the best way for seniors and those with mobility issues to get a bit of the exotic. Cruise lines seem keen to appeal to youth, but those under 30 have the energy and fearlessness to go off on their own. The safety and services of the boat offer a break from the ordinary for the 65-and-up crowd.

–Cruise lines have nearly perfected the art of getting 2,000 people on and off a boat in a short period of time. Remember when getting onboard was a multiple-hour process? Not any more. We checked in in about 15 minutes and left the ship and found our luggage even faster. Well done.

–I remain ridiculously susceptible to motion sickness, particularly of the “sea” variety. I thought I read, somewhere, that infants and seniors are often immune to the condition (something having to do with the inner ear, perhaps), and I certainly now qualify as a senior, but the slightest odd jolt from the boat sent a frisson of fear through my viscera, followed by a quick reckoning of where I left my anti-nausea medication. So, think twice about taking on watery areas of the world known for heavy seas. Or make sure your motion-sickness medication is up to the task.

So, until the next time …


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