October News from Rick: Selling Out to Cruising?
|For years I've heard that cruisers (like this gal) are using my books to have smarter, less-costly shore trips. So, this fall I decided it was time to cruise around in their shoes.|
Am I a sell out?
I'm at sea this month, taking back-to-back Mediterranean cruises. To report on this, I'm in the middle of 20 entries in 20 days on my Facebook page. I find the readers' comments fascinating. Many of my readers and even my staff are worried. Have I sold out? Turned my back on back door travel? Have I become one of those for whom travel is "see if you can eat five meals a day and still snorkel when you get into port?"
It's true, I am seeing a dozen Mediterranean ports in two weeks and dancing my nights away under starry, starry nights at sea. I'm sharing a ship with 3,000 people whose priorities are shopping, gambling, eating, drinking, and sightseeing — often in that order. It's hedonism plain and simple. And for me, these two weeks have me toggling between life on shore and life on board. As soon as I return to the ship after a day exploring, I plop my wallet into the top drawer and join a fantasy, cashless world that in many ways is a floating 14 story-tall shopping mall/entertainment complex. And many of my tablemates consider a trip to Vegas a real travel adventure.
Am I suddenly "pro-cruising?" No. Cruising is just one of many ways of traveling, and I'm keeping an open mind and enjoying the experience. And I'm learning a lot. For example, I was just hanging out with the officer whose responsibility is to monitor the supplies. He told me the two most important items to keep in stock: TP for guests and rice for the predominantly Asian crew. They once ran out of rice and nearly had a mutiny. I also learned a lesson when booking a "sea view" seat in the ship's fanciest restaurant: A window seat after dark on a cruise ship has you sitting next to a big glassy black wall with nothing to see but your reflection.
Even with all the fun on board, so far my most vivid experiences are those I've enjoyed on land. My challenge (and the purpose of our new Mediterranean Cruise Ports guidebook, which I'm updating on this trip) is to empower those who enjoy the fun, efficiency, and economy of cruising with the information necessary to get the very most out of their time in port. "Like" me on Facebook to get the day-to-day story and my candid take on cruising. Follow me in the back streets of Naples, Mykonos, and Istanbul and see how much weight I gain when this is all over. I started in Barcelona at 212 pounds. My friends on Facebook will have a chance to guess (then get) the final figure when I fly home later this month.
In the meantime, cruise over to this month's Travel News, where you'll find ranting, raving and a teetering hostel in Italy's Cinque Terre; tips on getting the most from your smartphone (and our app) in Europe; a visit to Leonardo's Amboise; a TV producer's-view of Monet's "Water Lilies"; and a remarkable three-minute video that captures hundreds of magic moments from one couple's seven-month journey across Europe. Don't miss it.
Happy travels...by land, sea or sky,