The perfect cruise

Posted by Fred Frailey
on Monday, September 17, 2012

I’ve been MIA again the past two weeks. Cathie and I spent several days in northern Italy and then a week on a (ahem) luxury cruise ship calling at mostly small towns on the Croatian side of the Adriatic Sea. What’s not to like about this? Nothing at all! Who of us doesn’t like to be licked by the velvet tongue of indulgence?

Still, it was not my idea of the perfect cruise. I thought a long time about what was bugging me. The drill was that every morning we’d be in a different port. At each stop we had the option of paying for an escorted tour of the town or its environs. Cathie and I did this three days, which was two too many for both of us. Or you could leave the ship and walk around, which in my case meant following my wife on a tour of the local churches and every conceivable shopping venue.

Finally my thoughts coalesced to the point I could explain it to Cathie. My ideal cruise would be our same boat with our same fellow passengers, except that we’d leave on Day 1 and arrive on Day 7 without ever having come to a port. No churches. No shopping. Boring, my wife replied. To you, maybe, I said. At least I’d like to try it. You can eat, drink, sun bathe, read a book, talk to people, eat more, talk more, drink more, nap, read the book again, have the daily martini, fall asleep, wake up, talk more. Time would sort of stand still. What a nice thought this is.

Like a train, I added. On a long distance train time is suspended. There are no planned events other than meals. You make the experience what you want it to be, not what the marketing people think it should be.

Any of Amtrak’s long distance trains fit the bill. More so does VIA Rail’s Canadian. Four nights and three days at sea, so to speak. I love the Canadian so much that next month I’ll make this year’s third trip from Vancouver, B.C., to Toronto aboard this unique train. Partly I do this because I feel instinctively that this train in its current form is threatened by the waves of Canadian politics, just as Amtrak’s long distance trains are in the U.S. But even more, I do this because this train is my definition of the perfect cruise. — Fred W. Frailey  

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