Tuesday, October 27, 2009

CRUISIN' AT LAST

Back in 1964, when the Beatles first took America by storm, I was a twelve year old girl, more than ready for my first crush and the world of rock 'n' roll.  Like so many other impressionable young girls, I also became immediately enamored of EVERYTHING British.  I loved the accents, the clothes, the music, the humor, the pageantry, and the history.  Unfortunately for me, being twelve years old meant that my dream of going to England would be a long time coming, and my marriage and children a few years later delayed that dream for even longer. 

Eventually I did get to England in 1985, and again in 1987, and 1989 - there was just never enough time, so I had to keep going back.  In order to maximize my time in England and the entire 'British' experience, my dream vacation was to fly to England on the Concorde - no way faster to get there! - and then to cruise back aboard the QE2 - the British ship would ease my transition back to the states, giving me six days to adjust to the fact that I wasn't in England any more.

And then in 2003 the Concorde stopped flying!  I was so sad to realize that my ultimate dream vacation would never be possible!  I would however still be able to complete the other part of my dream trip, aboard the QE2 - until in 2008 it too stopped cruising!  Well, there were still other ships doing transatlantic crossings, so I held out hope that one day I could sail the Atlantic.  I was never concerned about any Titanic-type dangers; I was more intrigued by the romance of AN AFFAIR TO REMEMBER
 
Over the years, especially since we've lived in Italy, Art and I have talked about taking a transatlantic cruise between Italy and the U.S., but it's just never worked out.  I even talked with a travel agent earlier this year when we were in Louisville, and discovered that most of the repositioning cruises for the winter were departing from Europe earlier than we wanted or needed to leave. 
 
I don't even know how the conversation got started the other day, but Art brought up the idea of cruising back to the states in December.  I reminded him of what I'd learned in the spring, but he decided to do an internet search anyway.  Of course he did find some ships making transatlantic cruises in November and December, but they were leaving from England or Spain - no place that was really easy for us to get to.  When Art left the room for a few minutes I did a search of my own, this time entering Rome as the departure port and voila!  there was indeed a cruise leaving on November 30th - a 13 night cruise that - even better- would arrive in Ft Lauderdale.  Arriving in Florida in mid-December has got to be nicer than arriving in New York!
 
We looked through the information about the cruise, checked out the stops, and then took a look at the price.  Gulp!  The ship was a brand new one, and with  CELEBRITY CRUISE LINES, a rather 'upscale' line, to boot.  Imagine our surprise when we saw that the cheapest cabin cost $699!  Yes, it's a small cabin, and yes it's an inside cabin, but how much time would we spend in the cabin anyway, and how useful would a balcony be in December on the Atlantic??? 
 
We contacted an agent, who promptly tried to get us to upgrade - not to a larger cabin, or even an outside cabin, but to a cabin that he could guarantee for us, one that we would know the location of before we left.  But of course that cost extra - $150 EACH to be exact.  Just as with airfare, the $699 fare didn't include taxes, so you have to add that ($120 each), plus the gratuities for the cabin steward, waiter, and bus boy.  PLUS all those shore excursions!  Even if you do-it-yourself, which we definitely plan to do, you're still spending money.  In the end we decided to take our chances with the $699 cabin. 
 
We'll forgo alcohol, and even soft drinks, because they cost extra.  We won't be scheduling any spa treatments or even dressing up for the three formal dinners.  This cruise will be budget all the way, but it will also be the fulfillment of a dream, and 13 glorious days - with stops at places we've never been to before! 
 
The good news is I'll be taking my computer with me.  I'll be able to download and edit photos daily, and write about what we've seen and done as I lounge around, all the while keeping one eye peeled for Cary Grant,or a reasonable facsimile.  The bad news is internet time looks to be rather costly, so I might just have to write some interim stuff to post automatically while we're at sea.  Don't worry, I'll let you know before we leave - how could I leave without using this excuse to say "Bon voyage!"?

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6 Comments :

At 10/27/2009 08:56:00 AM , Blogger Gigi said...

OMG...what a wonderful experience. Can't wait to hear all about it.

 
At 10/27/2009 02:29:00 PM , Blogger Suzanne said...

Hi Barbara,

I loved reading your blog, and am so excited for your that you'll be able to realize one of your dreams of a trans Atlantic cruise.

I am on the roll call over at Cruise Critic, and will also be on this cruise with you. I also have my own cruise lover's blog, much like your Live in Italy Blog. We did a TA on Celebrity Last year and I have lots of Rome, Barcelona, and Cruise Related info there. http://cruisetalk.org/

 
At 10/27/2009 02:35:00 PM , Blogger Barbara said...

Ciao Suzanne! Thanks for sending me the link - can't wait to check it out - and we look forward to meeting you on board!

 
At 10/27/2009 10:21:00 PM , Blogger glenda said...

Oh Barb you guys will-have so much fun, we have been cruising for 15 years and still love it, cant wait to hear all about it

 
At 10/28/2009 01:26:00 AM , Blogger Gil said...

That sounds like a great way to come home for Christmas. I knew a couple that would travel on freighters for free or next to nothing from NYC to Italy. They would work in the kitchen. The wife, a college professor, was Italian and she would cook. Her husband, businessman, would help his wife in the kitchen. They vacationed this way because they enjoyed it as I'm sure they could afford to fly 1st class!

Just an idea for a future trip for you.

 
At 10/28/2009 09:59:00 AM , Blogger Bob and Rosemary said...

How absolutely thrilling!! Your plan sounds like it would fit right in with our "live cheap and make art" lifestyle!! Bravi bravi bravi!! Can't wait to hear all about it. You two continue to inspire with your courage, ingenuity and downright lust for life!

 

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