By Mike Coleman
She kissed me on the cheek, under the stars on the lido deck, and my life has never been the same.
Heck, I was just 13 years old, but there I was on one of Carnival’s first ships, the Mardi Gras, sailing under a moonlit sky some 30 years ago and in awe of the beautiful cruise director who only moments before had planted a big one on my cheek.
She said I was cute, or something to that effect, to my mother. And, for a brief moment, I forgot she was still standing there – my mother, that is – as I soaked in the moment of not just my first kiss, but my first kiss from a woman, no less, on a magical cruise ship sailing the Caribbean seas.
Today’s cruise lines may not promise such fireworks, but they do deliver a variety of dream vacations, each filled with their own unique experiences and memories to last a lifetime.
Embarkation usually begins in Florida – the state is home to the headquarters of many of the world’s leading cruise lines and the five primary cruise ports (Port Everglades (Fort Lauderdale), Miami, Tampa, Jacksonville and Port Canaveral) handle most of the nations cruise traffic.
Since 9/11, however, cruise lines have been doing everything they can to bring ships to you, the consumer. As such, homeports have popped up across the nation from New York to Los Angeles, east to west, Galveston to Seattle.
Thanks to new ship launches, on-board cuisine featuring menus from master chefs Wolfgang Puck to Nobu Matsuhisa, wine and film festivals and ambitious on-board activities from rock climbing walls to Berlitz-accredited courses, and you can see why more than 10 million Americans will sail this year.
Each week, this column will explore the latest cruise industry trends. We’ll feature the amazing array of on-board recreational and educational amenities, exciting ports and unique shore excursions offered that will make your highly-anticipated voyage all the more memorable.
And, no Cruise Guide column would ever be complete without looking at the mouth-watering cuisine options the major cruise lines have to offer.
So whether it’s a romantic getaway for two, a business and incentives trip, or a family and friends gathering, this column will lead you to your own unforgettable cruise memory, be it a shared moment with loved ones or even a loved one’s shared moment with a cruise director.