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Sarge6870

More than just "A CRUISE"........

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For many of us that have grown up in the 1960's or earlier, on this rock we call the United States, family vacations usually involved dad's vacation time from work and the family going to the local beaches or loading in the car (if you were lucky enough to have one) to visit the rest of the family that lived in a more suburban setting than you. As we grew older, we found that perfect one that we wanted to always be our best friend and we could share our interests with. I did, lucky enough and Chrissy and I have sailed together since 1990. We began cruising with being totally awe struck with the comfort and convenience of being on a ship at sea that were what we considered as self contained. There was everything onboard we could possibly want and more. There were multiple places to eat whenever you wanted, bars, entertainment, atmosphere, being waited on for any of our needs and of course, the numerous ports of call. We began our cruise experiences only visiting the tourist areas that were in the immediate locations of the ports we visited. We really never got the full spectrum of the world around those ports. Then, as time (or cruise) went on, we began to venture out a bit more on our own to the areas well outside of the tourist areas. Now keep in mind, some areas could be dangerous so do your research pre-cruise before you plan your personal excursions. At first, yes we were worried about not knowing where the safest and best locations were to go, but we wanted to see how the people of that country actually live. We did this in Bermuda (scooter rental) and in Aruba (jeep rental). We went to local churches, restaurants, bars and the like to meet the people that live there. We talked to many of them. We even just walked the streets, away from the basic tourist areas. Some were interesting and some, well let’s just say, not so much. What it comes down to is that these locals have the same concerns and interests in their lives as we in the U.S. do. They want a good life. They want to be successful. They want their kids to get a better education then they did so they could succeed in life. In many of these countries, cruise passengers that don’t go, what I call, “Outside of the bubble”, never get to experience these things. In many cases, I was so impressed that even with their living conditions, these people were destined to succeed if it only meant having a roof over their head and food on the table for their families. We also began to notice that many of these types of people worked on the cruise ship we were sailing on. Many of the crew come from countries where their future and their family’s future rely on income. And your crew onboard, many away from home for 6 or more months at a time, working as much as 18 hours a day and earning a pittance from the cruise line send their money home for their family to survive. I have taken the time on many cruises to just talk to members of the crew and found they love talking about home. Let’s face it, they miss their families being away that long and having them tell you about their home life and families is almost like a post card for them. It’s not always all about the tip although they do appreciate it. Many crew seem to gravitate to certain passengers as we do to them. If you really want to visit the non-tourist areas of ports, just talk to your crew. I’m sure you will be enlightened with how as kids, they had no car or vacations as many of us did growing up. With all the information available to you on this site and the experienced cruisers here you can pose questions to, you have no excuse to be locked in the “Bubble” for your cruise. Get out and experience the world. CRUISE...........

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Nice thoughts, Sarge...on my first cruise back in 1979, I went to Puerto Rico, Samana, (Dominican Republic) and St. Croix. It was so amazing for me to see how others live. Especially in Samana...back then it was very primitive, if that's the right word. It was a beautiful island, and didn't have any modern restaurants or public areas...we saw the women washing clothes in the stream with a washboard. Everyone seemed happy, and the young boys were dressed up with paint on their faces, and headdresses, asking for "one dollar" for trinkits (sp) they were selling. I feel blessed to be able to travel occasionally, and to visit other countries.

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Good advice Tim! We always try to get to know some of the crew members – it’s amazing how much they appreciate it. Some of our best experiences ashore have involved getting a little bit outside of the tourist areas. We love to find the local’s favorite places; be it beach, restaurant or bar the quality and prices are always better than the touristy places!

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You're absolutely right, Tim. You really don't "see" a destination unless you experience the people and the culture. Even if you don't strike out on your own with a street map, a local guide will be happy to show you around areas where the cruise line excursions don't go. All it takes is a little research and a sense of adventure. This is not only true of cruises, but land vacations as well. I have to thank my mother-in-law who passed away several years ago. As a child, she grew up in a tiny, rural village in central Portugal. If it weren't for all the stories she told us, we would never have gathered the family together two years ago for a visit to her homeland. We rented a car and drove all around visiting not only well-known places (Fatima) but also were fortunate to connect with a long-lost third cousin who showed us mom's village, where she went to school, where she played, the ruins of her former home and even met a very old woman who grew up with her.

Now when we cruise, I think of that trip and how great it is to travel off the beaten path for a true cultural experience!

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