My first cruise: Discovering ship life

In my life I have been lucky enough to travel around the world. You name it, and I’ve probably been there. I’ve seen all the iconic sites like the Empire State Building, Big Ben, The Eiffel Tower and the canals of Venice, but for years I refused to go anywhere near a cruise ship.

I had preconceived ideas that being on a cruise ship would feel claustrophobic, that I’d get seasick and probably stuck with a bunch of people I didn’t want to be around.

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In 2013, at the age of 52, I decided to throw caution to the wind and find out why so many people were taking to cruising. I booked a 7-day voyage from Athens to Venice on the luxurious Silver Wind. Looking back it was a pretty good choice for my first cruise!

Never-the-less in September that year I anxiously arrived at Piraeus Port in Athens where the Silver Wind sat resplendently waiting for me at the first pier.

Immigration and security were surprisingly quick and, dare I say it, a pleasant experience compared to the stressful line-up at airports. This was a good start!

Within minutes I was standing on the pier looking up at the ship. The moment of truth had arrived. As I climbed the gangway I realised there was no turning back.

The Silver Wind sailing out of port.

The Silver Wind sailing out of port.

Was I going to like my first cruise?

As soon as I reached the top of the gangway I was welcomed by the Cruise Director and given a delightful glass of Champagne. After a brief check-in with Champagne in hand, I was whisked off to the cabin. My first cruise was shaping up nicely.

To call it a cabin is something of an understatement. On Silversea they call all their cabins ‘suites’ and with good reason. They are the size of a big hotel room!

The décor was tasteful with a separate living space, a large teak veranda and good sized bathroom. As I began to explore my home at sea my butler arrived. Yes, every room on the Silver Wind had a butler!

No unpacking

He kindly pointed out the fully stocked mini-bar and asked if I had any preferred spirits he could get for me. He ask what bathroom products I liked and even offered to unpack my luggage.

Then it dawned on me. After unpacking, there would be no need to go near my suitcases for another 7 days. That in itself must be one of the biggest pleasures of cruising.

Food is included

Sailing out of Athens that evening is something I will never forget. I dined in the aptly named The Restaurant on some of the best food I’ve ever eaten while watching the twinkling lights of Athens slowly slip away. I decided that I could get used to this!

Afternoon canapés served on my balcony aboard the Silver Wind.

Afternoon canapés served on my balcony aboard the Silver Wind.

What about the entertainment?

One area of doubt still remained – the dreaded cruise ship entertainment! My youthful memories of The Love Boat no doubt coloured my perceptions, so as I took my seat in the auditorium my expectations weren’t high. I was in for a big surprise.

That night we were treated to a full stage production of Billy Joel’s greatest hits. It was terrific with each of the ship’s resident entertainers given particular parts. It was made even more enjoyable knowing I was watching it while sipping a cocktail, sailing the high seas.

Wake up somewhere new

One of the most amazing things about being on a cruise ship is that when you go to bed at night you know you’ll wake up somewhere entirely different the next day. The first morning I woke up on the Silver Wind we were anchored off the ancient town of Monemvasia located on a small, Gibraltar-like island in the Peloponnese. Every morning delivered a different ‘wow’ moment when I drew back the curtains.

Do whatever you want

What I came to love most about ship life is the fact that you can choose to do as little, or as much as you like. You can sit around the pool deck where attentive staff will bring you drinks or you can take yourself shore to explore a different port every day. There’s no pressure, the choice is entirely yours. If you do go ashore it’s nice to know you’ve got your floating home to return to at the end of the day.

A cruising convert

It’s fair to say that after my first cruise on the Silver Wind I was hooked. Since then I’ve taken 6 more cruises. In fact I try to make a cruise a part of any trip away. For me it checks so many boxes: You only unpacking once. The destinations change every day. The food is great and so is the entertainment. Really, it’s like buying an all-inclusive vacation and what’s not to love about that!

 

1 comment

  1. Totally agree Geoff. You can mingle as much or as little as you like, do as much or as little as you like from the smorgasbord of on-ship and off-ship activities and the food is generally very good. Always choose the dining rooms over the buffets and be nice to the staff.

    The two cruises I have done (both around NZ) have been the most relaxing holidays I have ever taken – even with two kids!

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