Travel, relax, enjoy and learn (optional) marine biology, history, geography, engineering. This trip was the 15 day westbound cruise, Miami to San Diego. We specifically enjoyed ... pretty well everything. But be warned: I'm easy to please: give me neat and clean accommodation, super service, food to feast, enjoyable entertainment, interesting sights and fun shore excursions, and I'm good to go.
I note the favourable quality of the passengers; polite, smart, educated, and genteel. (In this group, I include myself and my pretty partner.) This leads to very pleasant and thought-provoking conversations (in various accents) at meal conclaves and social functions. So a highlight of the journey is the exceptional people we met. Some types good and others less so. Get this cruise one-upmanship: "We prefer Seabourn" (sniff).
Superb variety of gustatory delights exciting for the palate are presented at supper. Not for me is the available light breakfast for early and late risers or even room service; I'm the full breakfast buffet type, and make-to-order stations. Here, I wait only if the line is short; otherwise I could be sitting and resting my gaze on the azure horizon. I enjoyed the galley (kitchen) tour, not having to slave over the stove. Imagine the technology of feeding over 2,000 critical mouths 3 meals a day. There's an escalator to carry waiters from the lower kitchen to the 2 dinner floors. People complain; example: talking to a British couple, they judged the food too fancy and seasoned. Not your thing? head for a cafeteria snack or a snooze in the library.
The cruise program includes daily presentations and nightly variety show entertainment. The shows were excellent: Broadway singing and dancing, comedian and ventriloquist, jugglers. I rated the quality as high, but I concede not everyone has my taste! Not your thing? head for the casino, or hang out at the bar (indoors or poolside).
My partner and I are dancers, we Prance the Sound of Music, and we love to show off (modest? No!) It's our friendly mission to enlist seated, unwary ladies and gentlemen as target dance partners - now we have 4 on the floor. There are lots of places to dance shipboard: daytime on deck by the pool, practice mornings in the disco, before and after supper in the Rendez-Vous Club or the disco. Otherwise, don't forget the fitness centre and spa, where you can atone for your rich eating habit and rethink your travel strategy. Not your thing? head for the weekly religious service, or peer out your porthole.
Don't forget the reason why you chose the trip. The Panama Canal itinerary includes significant history, geography, archeology, art and culture. These lessons are comfortably presented in the theatre by nice experts you travel with. Not your thing? head for the sun deck, or a dip in the pool.
Be aware of some risky cruise activities. Lots of folks get sick - I speak first hand - having visited the ship's infirmary, where service is available for a price (you may need to wait in line). Wash and sanitize diligently. Be smart on shore, we hear of untoward situations (robbery) travelers encountered. Then there's Dinner Roulette: book a random dinner sitting with anyone. It's like mauling your intelligence: not fatal, but you'll end up trying to recall what you had for supper. Also the accident our ship had in the canal: you know how you slam the door on your finger? Well the lock door (weight 500 tons) was slammed into the ship's stern; we felt and heard a big bang and shudder. Some damage to the ship, but no problem, just exciting for the passengers. Even a news release was issued.
Quality observations: is it perfect? Mostly, the cruise lines have learned from passengers and try very hard; quit grousing! Now there's shopping as a palliative for those with suitcase room and credit. Good bargains are available on-board: $10 watches, $12 tee-shirts, (I know you can get it cheaper on shore, but this is for them who can't). Small but useful innovation: baggage tags included with your ticket to facilitate boarding. Possible improvement: sometimes the internet connection is slow; it's always more expensive than on shore. The final customs inspection on board is an expeditious idea that requires refinement. The floor-number light in the elevator could be ergonomically improved (I'm scraping the bottom of my suggestion box).
Did I mention we had a fantastic trip? Bon Voyage anyway!