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Copyright © 2004-Jeffrey R. Stern

All Rights Reserved.

Your first cruise is like a first love; everything about it is fresh, and electrifying; As long as you live, you will never forget it! No matter how many times you may put out to sea, again, there will never be a voyage quite like your first…and, every time you think about it, your heart will beat just a little more rapidly.

My experience on the Holiday was no different. Just about every major element of the cruise was the opposite of what I had expected it to be. Although, I’m not precisely sure what I actually expected. Maybe I had seen just one too many episodes of “The Love Boat.†On the other hand, nothing I experienced during my adventure was in any way disappointing. In fact, nearly everything I encountered exceeded my expectations.

I have already spent substantial time discussing the food, so I will only add that I was surprised at how much, and how often, you were fed. Of course, that was a dozen years ago. If anything, the sheer volume of food, and its overall quality, have increased. Carnival has made a considerable effort in this area, and has done so very successfully.

I was, unexpectedly, and pleasantly, surprised by the quality of the entertainment, and, specially, the production shows. The “Broadway†and “Las Vegas†reviews were excellent. A little on the ‘corny’ side, sometimes, but, very entertaining. The entertainment in the smaller venues was of equal high-quality.

One of the female lead singers was, particularly, exceptional. At that particular time, I had no particular motivation to remember her name. However, I subsequently did learn that it was Elvee Rose. In December, of 1998, I was aboard the Norwegian Wind, and, while watching one of the production shows, I was particular taken by a very talented singer. I just thought, at the time, that a lot of the entertainers aboard the ships are similar, and that was the reason for the familiarity. Then, I checked the program, and saw the name Elvy Rose, which meant rang the smallest of bells in my head. As I sat, and listened, it gradually came to me, and I realized that she was the same singer I had enjoyed so much on a previous cruise. Damned if I remembered which one, but, no doubt, I had seen her on another ship.

Being the ultimate ‘pack rat,’ I have saved every daily program, from every cruise I have been on. It didn’t take very long to check the daily program from the Holiday and verify that it was the same Elvee/Elvy Rose.

The cabin was larger than I expected, until we checked out the bathroom,

but that’s another story. It was pleasantly decorated, and more restful

(less gaudy) than the rest of the décor aboard the ship. I have learned that, for the most part, a cabin is a cabin. As far as I am concerned, they are all pretty similar. Sure, some have a bit more room, than others; several have more closets, or may be a little short of drawer space; and a number may have more, or less, amenities. I have found them all to be fairly, comfortable.

Admittedly, the few times I have had a suite, or mini-suite, I have truly enjoyed them. Likewise, whenever I have had a balcony, I made a lot of use of it. One suite (cat. 9A), aboard the Victory, was particularly nice. The balcony was approximately 30 feet long, had 2 lounges, two chairs two tables, and wrapped around the stern of the ship onto the starboard side. On the other hand, on a very few occasions, I have been left with no choice but an ‘inside.’ The cruise was no less fun!

Unless you really get claustrophobic, I believe that the cabin is the least important aspect of the cruise. When I’m in any ‘standard,’ inside/oceanview, cabin, it serves as “home base.†I use it for sleeping, showering, changing, and spending some, but not a lot, of time there.

Other than Cabin 108, on the Britanis, an inside cabin which I always specifically requested, I have taken two other cruises with an inside cabin. I did not find that being in an inside cabin detracted from the entire cruise experience in any way. Admittedly, I missed looking out in the morning, and checking the weather; seeing the sunshine, the sea, or a port. In addition, I found that I spent less time in the cabin, but I was quite comfortable, and found that there was very little difference between an inside and an oceanview.

On the opposite end of the scale, I have had a balcony, several times, and have truly enjoyed, and made a great deal of use of it. I derived a great deal of pleasure on the balcony, watching the sea sprint by as we had coffee and cake. Yet, I have only paid extra, for the balcony, once and I don’t think I would be inclined to do so again. At least, not if it was considerably more. I’d rather save the money to lose in the Casino.

On the other hand, when I have something nicer, I tend to make full use of it. I’ll sit on the balcony, entertain in the cabin, and, generally, spend more time there.

As with so many facets of cruising, this is strictly a personal decision. If it’s important to you, make sure you book the right cabin. There are some people who will not consider going on a cruise if they can’t get a balcony, or some other specific amenity. Me? I’d stay in a lifeboat, if it had a private bath.

There was so much about cruising that made it so attractive. Everything I’ve talked about, so far, and so much more. There was one aspect of travel by sea that was unique to cruising. Something which added, immensely, to its attractiveness. You were totally “isolated†from the outside world.

The ships, then, did not have regular ship-to-shore telephone service; you had to go the Radio Room, during specified hours. The TV was all “in-house.†No satellite dishes, no news…only videotapes that were brought onboard. In fact, you were totally cut off, and shielded, from the outside world. Your ship was truly a lonely atoll in the middle of the sea… You didn’t get a Times Fax, every morning, and had no idea what was going on in the world. The only news you ever received was when you spotted a USA Today in one of the shops in port. And, that was a rare occurrence.

As the end of the cruise approached, I came to a number of realizations…

The first was, simply, that I did not want to get off the ship! I felt as if I could spend another month, on board, without any problem. Perhaps, I might run out of clean clothes, or gain 40 pounds, but, otherwise, I could do it very easily.

I also knew that this was going to be, not just a first cruise, but, the first of many. I had found a vacation that was totally stress-free, hassle-free and affordable.

Finally, I knew that I needed to book another cruise, as soon as possible.

As I said, before, I was very lucky in the Casino, on our first cruise. We got off the ship with several hundred dollars more than we had left with.

I came off the ship with something more. It was as if I had stuck a needle into, my arm, pushed the plunger and injected my veins with something as addictive as cocaine or heroin… Yes, I had received a direct infusion of cruise fever, and soon learned that there is no cure. I was, already, suffering from PCDS, post-cruise depression syndrome. You can obtain temporary relief, by, immediately, booking another cruise.

The dangerous combination of a few hundred dollars in the pocket of an addict, and a case of Post-Cruise Traumatic Stress Disorder (newly recognized by the medical profession as a legitimate syndrome), is extremely volatile….

After gathering our luggage, I went to the long term lot and got my car. I loaded the bags into the hatch, and off \I drove. South through Coral Gables and South Miami, to Kendall. We went, directly, to see Mike, the travel agent who booked my first cruise. I handed him the Casino winnings, and told him to book me a week-end cruise. Mike asked for details; what ship? What line?

I told him we really didn’t care, and left the choice up to him. After all, he was the expert and I only knew that I had fallen in love with cruising.

I left Mike’s office and drove home, pulled into the driveway, schlepped the luggage in, and collapsed on the couch. I put my video into the VCR, and relived the cruise, over-and-over-and-over, which brought minor, temporary, relief to my PCDSD (Post-Cruise Depression Stress Disorder)..

I subsequently learned that PCDSD is a very common ailment, following any cruise, which has no known cure. Temporary relief, nevertheless, may be attained by. Immediately, booking a future cruise.

Over the course of the week-end, and well into the week, I thought, and talked, about was the cruise. Towards the end of the week, Mike called and told me he had booked a week-end cruise, and would have the tickets, and all (the docs, as I later learned they are called), shortly.

He had booked me on an older ship, and one which had none of the modern amenities. However, Mike told me, the food is excellent and the ship is very nautical. She was called the Britanis, and was built in 1932.

Still filled with the glow of the cruise we had just taken, my enthusiasm was a little less than I would have expected. Also, I was a little hesitant about a ship that was built only 20 years after the Titanic.

Little did I know what was about to happen; no inkling that something was about to occur that would change my life. Little did I know, but, shortly, I was to fall in love. I was about to begin an affair that would fill my spirit until this very day….. Not with a woman, but with a lady……a lady of the sea.

(If you missed any of the preceding chapters, and wish to “catch up,†you can click on the links below….)

Part 1 – Introduction;


Part 2 – Onto The Ship; Out To Sea


Part 3 – First, there’s The Food


Part 4 – Shooting The Dice


Part 5 – Places To Visit; People To See


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