Back when I was a teenager, I considered cruises the ultimate vacation. Think about it: All sorts of activities, all sorts of food, all sorts of girls. I would’ve been happy with a ship that sailed straight into the ocean and didn’t touch ground for seven days. Alas, I had to deal with cruises that had the putting people ashore interrupting my skirt-chasing and carousing (in as much as teenagers can carouse). With my trusty wingman, Art, covering me, I had many good times aboard ships. I’ll be nice enough to Art to spare him a recap of the super-cheesy line he used on two girls within hours of boarding, and a description of his shambolic dance moves.
Cruising the Mexican Riviera
I’d say our finest time was on Royal Caribbean Cruise Line’s Song of America. By the standards of the time (the time of the cruise being 1992, when the ship was 10 years old), it was a good-sized ship. We sailed from LA through the Mexican Riviera, which included Cabo San Lucas, Puerto Vallarta and Mazatlan. I have to be honest – the ports didn’t do much for me. In fact, I got stung by a blue bottle in Puerto Vallarta. But Art and I had our usual shipboard antics, which included dragging a passed-out shipmate back to his cabin after he vented the contents of his stomach on the club’s dance floor (we were old enough to know how to avoid such a fate). We met a ton of fun people, ate everything in sight and raised hell until all hours of the night, every night.
The Song itself was a really wonderful ship, though nowhere near as opulent and extravagant as something like the soon-to-be-launched Oasis of the Seas. The Norwegian/Caribbean crew was excellent – for a touch of character, a band consisting of crew members played live reggae music at night out on deck – far better than the stuff you’ll hear on the radio. I don’t know if they still do that.
Would I Cruise Now?
These days, cruises rank way low on my scale. Not enough adventure. Too much rich food. Not enough time to do anything cool in port. I also think the tipping aboard ship has gotten out of control. I think they waste too much space on stuff like casinos, too – though the ice rinks I’m hearing about sound awesome! A lot of these ships are built in Finland, so I imagine they must have saunas.
On the other hand, I still love being far out at sea, especially at night. One of the coolest things I’ve ever seen was a Hawaiian volcano dumping lava into the ocean at night, and the hiss from the steam it made hitting the cool seawater. The stars at sea are also a sight to behold, with no light pollution to be found. And I love the tiny staterooms, the compact, no-space-wasted feeling. I also slept like a baby with the pitching and rolling, along with the rumble of the diesel engines.
I think a stripped-down, adventure-oriented cruise line would be an interesting option among all the spoil-you-rotten-and-fatten-you-up fare to be found. I can see putting ashore each day for mountain biking, a really rigorous hike, some paintball … how fun would that be? I would also favor, if the ship were big enough, having a schweeb aboard and having tournaments throughout the cruise for fastest speed.
Remembering the Song
So Oasis of the Seas will hold 5,400 passengers. It’s nearly 1,200 feet long. Where does that leave ships like Song of America, with its paltry load of 1,200 passengers and just 703-foot length? Well, Royal Caribbean sold her. She’s now sailing as the MS Thomson Destiny. I hope she’s cared for well. I have nothing but good memories from that ship.