(11:20 a.m. EDT) -- Best-selling author Elizabeth Gilbert, author of the travel classic "Eat Pray Love," served as godmother this week to Avalon Waterways' newest river ship, Avalon Envision. Cruise Critic caught up with Gilbert to get her views on cruising and the importance of travel.
CC: What did you think about the christening ceremony?
I believe in and love rituals. It is essential for human happiness. Ritual can sometimes be connected to religion, and when you leave religion because it does ghastly things, you sometimes lose ritual. When people are shifting from one point to another in their lives, it is easy to get lost in the disconnect. Ritual helps to link those parts. So I found the whole christening ceremony to be very meaningful.
Have you cruised before?
Never. This is my first cruise. I was honored to be asked to be a godmother, and I knew my parents, who are here with me, would enjoy it. I have never been interested in ocean cruising, but being on the river has been wonderful. I'm not happy when I'm not around water, but that's why I have never lived in a desert. There is something about me that needs to be around the water to feel safe. Spiritual masters often say that during meditation you must watch your thoughts go by like you're watching a river.
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Is there a bucket list cruise destination you want to visit?
Yes, I want to sail the Ganges River. From "Eat Pray Love," it's the only country I have not returned to yet.
Is there any place that has inspired you the most?
My favorite place in the world is New York City. But, I'm also quite eager to go back to India. I didn't get to see much of it because I was living in an ashram for four months. And then there is Italy, it keeps calling me back. The problem with Italy is how fat you get! The struggle is real. I love it there.
Sometimes people criticize cruising as a fleeting way of experiencing a destination. What do you think?
Even a five-minute interaction can be meaningful whether it is with a person or a place. If you are curious and interested in other people and places, there's lots of value in it. It's up to the individual. Do you want to stay in your own drama or your own world, or do you want to really connect with others? I always look for moments to be delighted by other humans even if just a short encounter.
Do you have any tips for solo female travelers?
Statistically, women are actually in the greatest physical danger in their own home. The second leading cause of death after heart disease is domestic violence. Wear your seat belt and don't smoke, and you will love a long healthy life. Traveling is perhaps safer as long as you act and dress responsibly.
Do you think that travel can change the world?
I get anxious about that idea because it's a really big order. Writers and politicians are always saying they are going to change the world. It makes me nervous because I feel like I don't know how to do that. Travel might change your world. The only world you are ever going to live in is yours. I start by trying to change my own world. How can I make myself more kind, more generous, more forgiving? Travel helps me do that.