Simon and I had taken 1 cruise before - Carnival in 1995 for 5 nights. While "nice", it wasn't really anything to write home about.
We decided to run away for Christmas this year, as his parents would be in Australia, and our daughter would be busy working at Universal Studios. Talked to a travel agent that took care of two of our friends. She talked us out of a Disney Christmas cruise - lots of children, not much else.
Settled on Seabourn for several reasons. Primarily, because I have severe food allergies - think anaphylaxis that have recently been diagnosed. As a result, we are more than a bit twitchy about travel. Our TA assured us that Seabourn would be the best choice for taking care of the allergies.
Get online to Cruise Critic and start asking questions on the Seabourn forum. The responses there were so great and reassuring that we decided to sail on the Pride leaving Ft. Lauderdale on 22 December. So, we pay the ransom, make the plane reservations, and start to dream.
Flew from San Diego to Orlando on 18 December to spend a few days with the daughter and her boyfriend. From there, it was, in theory, a quick trip to Ft. Lauderdale via the Florida's Turnpike. The reality of the Turnpike is somewhat different than the perception. I kept seeing speed limit signs that said 70 mph. I must have been the only one seeing the 7. Most folks were doing good to hit 50 mph. Needless to say, we were falling farther and farther behind.
Got to the airport at Ft. Lauderdale to turn in the car and hopped the shuttle to the port. The driver asked us what line we were on. "Seabourn". The driver promptly told us that there were no Seabourn ships in today. YIKES!!!! Don't tell me I was off on my dates! Fortunately, she thought that the Pride was a private yacht, so that worked out. My heart finally restarted, and we were on our way.
Made it through Security when the interesting things started. I go through the security check first so that I am there when the stuff comes off the conveyor. Simon goes through last after putting the last of the items through. Dali (one of the many wonderful crewmembers) starts taking the items off the belt. I had already snagged my purse before she showed up. She took all of our bags (3), our jackets, the purse of the lady behind us, their jackets, their bags (4), and then noticed that I was carrying my own purse. (GASP!) I was finally able to convince her that I could manage the purse on my own, and that she had more than enough to contend with just handling all that she had (and wouldn't give up).
The base of the brow had water and cold towels to recover from the long walk (maybe 20 feet) from security to the brow). Up the brow and into the Magellan Lounge for registration. My goodness. I realize that it was just on 3 pm when we got there, but they were apologizing for taking so long to register us. I am sorry to report, but I fail to see how a 2 minute wait to register was a long wait!
Then, the best part. We were escorted to our suite. 127 was to be our home for the next week. Let me just say now, I want to go back. I didn't want to leave. And I was tempted to throw a temper tantrum when they made us leave. I was good, and didn't though. I have every intention of going back, and didn't want to be remembered as the passenger who cried upon disembarkation. The diagrams that Seabourn provides, fail to do the suite justice. The couch, chairs, and table that raises and lowers were all a nice touch. As was the champagne and poinsettias. The room is almost twice as large as our bedroom at home.
Then, the doorbell rings. Wait, a doorbell on a ship??? I was in the Navy for 20 years and never heard of a doorbell on a ship. No matter, the doorbell rings, and Kelly-Ann is there. She is our Angel for the cruise. Well, okay, she is our Fairy Godmother. No, really she was. Anything that we needed, she was all over! Okay, okay, she was our stewardess, but you would think she had an endless supply of pixie dust and wish-granters.
Up for the life-boat drill. Back up to the sky-bar for sail away. Then it's to dinner. Walk towards the restaurant to see all sorts of crew lined up. Turns out that ladies are not to be let loose on the restaurant without supervision! Well, in reality, we were all escorted to our table. Quite the change from the house where I have to cook, set the table, serve, clear the table, and clean the kitchen!
The food was, well, exceptional. They took such great care of my allergies, only a couple of snafus which was not bad over the course of a week. We didn't order much at any meal. Starter, main course, and sweet. Perhaps that's why I wound up dropping 3 pounds on the cruise. The food was so good, and they actually practiced portion control - unlike in the U.S. where the restaurants use large dishes and pile on the food.
I am not a morning person. In fact, the only good thing about morning is that it eventually leads to afternoon. Simon, on the other hand, likes to get up in the morning. So, he would get up; go to the gym for a couple of hours. Come back, shower, and then go up to the Veranda Café for breakfast. By the time he came back, I would be pseudo conscious, so he would call for tea. The tea would get there extremely quickly. I almost suspected that they watched Simon enter the cabin and started the water, it was so fast. Once, it took almost 5 minutes to get the tea to us. They were so apologetic for the time delay. 5 minutes wait for tea is NOT a delay in my books, but I guess Seabourn thought differently. There were a couple of days that I dragged my unhappy tush out of bed for breakfast, but I was just as happy to snooze while he exercised and ate.
The only down-side of Seabourn is the fact that returning to reality was much harsher than it was in 1995 off the Carnival. There is nobody to offer me a cold cloth on the sun deck. I have to get my own tea and Diet Coke. I haven't been offered sorbet while laying in the sun since we left the Pride. Nobody escorts me to the table in the restaurant. The one time that I have been to a buffet since leaving the Pride, I had to carry my own plate to the table. The list goes on and on. I even have to make my own bed!
The worst part of the entire cruise was the debarkation. Not because the crew was anything other than their normal outstanding self, but because it was the signal that our 7 days of pampering and spoiling had come to a close. Seabourn even attempts to make that as painless as possible. They have us in the Magellan lounge again, and come in individually to tell us when our transportation is there. Unfortunately, they have everything polished so well, that there was nothing to grab onto so that we could stay just a few days longer! I was tempted to tie myself up in the Christmas decorations, but realized that that would be the mark of a desperate woman - not to mention the fact that the holly and pine needles would itch. So, I took the high moral road and only whimpered a little when Tili took my bags and assisted me off the ship.
I can be strong, though. I know that we will be back. If not on the Pride, then one of her sisters.