Cruisin’ With a Banshee

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How many of us have a certain view of cruise vacations?  I confess I do. The idea of a floating hotel complete with elevators, tennis courts, a spa…it’s kind of mind boggling.  I can’t seem to reconcile the whole staying afloat thing with thousands of people, luggage, and…climbing walls.  And then there are the passenger stereotypes…now that my hair is mostly gray, I don’t even want to go there.

Do they have icebergs in the Mediterranean? No! However, I’m sure I will slink to my stateroom and try not to think about things that could slice the hull of the Brilliance of the Seas open like a tuna can, even in warm water.

We picked Royal Caribbean for two reasons:  one, they were going where we wanted to go, when we wanted to go there.  Two, we remembered their commercials featuring younger, hipper, more active people.  Maybe it was all a marketing ploy (of course it was, dear) but even our travel agent assured us that for families of a certain age, Royal Caribbean was the way to go.

Already, we are somewhat dismayed about the cost of the whole adventure.  Not just the base cost of the airfare and basic room & board on the ship but all of the extras.  And we haven’t even gotten off the boat yet. We are paying a hefty price indeed for the convenience of letting this floating hotel cart us all over the Mediterranean, assuming we want to go ashore and see things.  It’s the going ashore and seeing things that really takes a bite out of your wallet.

We’re lazy and travelers pay dearly for their laziness.  I feel guilty ruing the expense of this trip before I’ve even taken it.  I chew my nails and wonder if having a home base in a villa in Tuscany really would’ve been so inconvenient.  So what if all we saw was Italy?  What’s wrong with Italy?  And, truth be told, we could’ve bought a EuroRail Pass and taken efficient and reliable train service all throughout Europe, we could’ve found moderately priced hotels had we really tried…oh, why couldn’t we be more…intrepid?

We are going to try to circumvent some of the cruise lines exhorbitant expenses – a fact that is causing the wee banshee to have anxiety attacks.  We have investigated the use of commuter trains from the ports into Rome and Florence (we know people who’ve done this. They said it was fine).   We have already “reserved” a driver to take us into Ephesus, Turkey.  Athens is still up in the air.  There is a new Metro service into Athens but  Greece is in chaos so we may have to chance a taxi or suck it up with the Royal Caribbean bus.  My husband is trying to book a catamaran cruise in Santorini since none of the ship excursions appealed to us. And, who wants to pay hundreds of dollars for something we really don’t want to do?

The cruise line will lecture us long and hard about the dangers of winging it on our own but the thought of being stuck on a tour bus listening to a tour guide gives me a rash.  I just can’t do it.   We were trapped on a tour bus for eight long hours in Puerta Vallarta a few Christmases ago.  Awful.  Get the shivers just thinking about it. It was like something out of a horror movie: “Bus of the Damned” with English subtitles.

Next time, if there is one, I’m renting that villa in Tuscany.  The banshee wants to r-e-l-a-x.

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