22 Sep 2016
|Is it possible to “take a vacation” when you’re retired?
How do you define “going on vacation”? Is it any time you’re not working? Is it whenever you’re traveling for pleasure not business?
By either of those two definitions, I’m always on vacation! I’ve decided that, for me, vacation is any time that I’m not sleeping in my own bed in my own home. (My home just happens to have wheels.)
I had recently made a reservation for a ten-day cruise. So, by any definition, I’m on vacation.
The itinerary for this cruise is to visit nine cities in four US states and four Canadian provinces:
Day 1: New York City
Day 2: Newport, Rhode Island
Day 3: Boston, Massachusetts
Day 4: Bar Harbor, Maine
Day 5: Saint John, New Brunswick
Day 6: Halifax, Nova Scotia
Day 7: Sydney, Nova Scotia
Day 8: Charlottetown, Prince Edward Island
Day 9: (At Sea)
Day 10: Quebec City, Quebec
This blog is about full-time RVing not about cruising, so I’m not going to describe the cruise in any detail. What I think my readers might find interesting was how cruising is similar to and different from RV travel.
The most obvious similarity with RV travel is visiting multiple locations without constantly packing and unpacking. I took an Amtrak train to NYC then a taxi to the cruise port. I unpacked my bags shortly after boarding and never had to pack my bags until it was time to leave. Besides RVings, there are very few other ways to travel every day and not constantly pack and unpack.
The amazing difference between cruise travel and RV travel is the food. When I travel in my RV, I have to prepare all of my own meals or else eat at a restaurant. Here on the ship, there’s food everywhere! And, except for a few “specialty” restaurants, everything is “all you can eat” and is included in the cruise price. One of the restaurants is open 24-hours per day. The pizza shop, the grill, and the ice cream bar are all open all afternoon and well into the evening. The main buffet restaurant, which is open almost all day, has nine food stations. I had chosen the “traditional” meal plan. This meant that I had dinner every day at the same time, at the same table, in the same restaurant with the same tablemates. We had the same waiter every night but the menu changed every day. Each evening offered the possibility of a five-course dinner. The danger of all these options is the dreaded OAS. The claim is that all of your clothes shrink by at least one size from what’s called Ocean Air Shrinkage. (grin) Anticipating this, I had dramatically decreased my food intake prior to the cruise so that I returned about normal weight.
Another similarity are the bedrooms. My bedrooms here on the ship and in my RV are both only slightly larger than my bed. The bathrooms are also similarly sized. But, my shower on the ship is noticeably smaller than my shower in the RV.
My RV has a living room. There is no living room in a standard cabin on the ship. But, there are many, many common rooms available for use. And, of course, you can pay extra for a “suite” on the cruise ship as I did once for a cruise in China.
And last but not least, there’s free room service on a cruise. I could order from an extensive menu and have it delivered directly to my room 24 hours per day. My cabin steward made my bed every morning and left a chocolate on my bed every night. If I used a towel, a fresh one magically appeared within hours. There are some perks to cruise travel that you can’t get in an RV.
As with selecting an RV, there’s an incredible variety of cruise options. It’s difficult but possible to find good accommodations for under $100/night. It’s easy to acquire extravagant accommodations for over $1,000 per night.
A surprising extra to this cruise was a brief visit in Quebec with my sister. Neither one of us knew that the other was planning on taking a cruise that week. We booked on two different cruise lines with two different itineraries. But, as it happened, we were both in Quebec on the same day. We were able to meet just before returning to our respective ships.
I quite enjoyed my stay on the cruise ship but was very happy to return “home” to move into my new RV.