On my last sailing aboard Seabourn's new Seabourn Encore, I had the pleasure of traveling with a friend and fellow TravelPulse writer-Claudette Covey, Managing Editor, Vacation Agent and Agent@Home magazines. We both got to reminiscing about our earliest cruise memories.
Mainly, we recalled how we enjoyed our first voyages so much that we cried at their conclusions.
Admittedly, in my case, the weeping began closer to halfway through the cruise as I already anticipated its end.
I wasn't even two years old when my parents took me on my first sailing on Princess Cruises' original 1984-launched Royal Princess, a ship we would later repeat. As I effectively grew up at sea, it was the social aspect that I got quickly attached to.
Long before elaborate children's clubs and kids programs, I made friends onboard, and I lamented leaving them behind.
Claudette's memories are similar: "My love affair with cruising began in the late 1960s when I sailed with my grandparents roundtrip from New York to the Bahamas aboard Home Lines' Oceanic. And it was love at first [sight]. Suffice it to say, I was dazzled by even the simplest of activities, like drinking hot broth wrapped in a wool towel on the expansive promenade deck.
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"Although I don't recall whether there were other kids onboard - I was nine, I think - I have no recollection of socializing with them," she continued.
"Those were the days when ships featured assigned seatings at dinner, and my grandparents and I bonded immediately with the guests at our table. I ended up loving my fellow passengers just as much I loved the ship itself. They treated me like an adult, and I tried to behave in kind - which made me feel very glamorous.
"When it was time to disembark, I was absolutely bereft that the experience had come to an end. I wept unabashedly. Since then, I've probably sailed on upwards of 50 ships of all types and on itineraries blanketing the globe. I have my favorites, but none of them will ever come close to touching that first cruise aboard the Oceanic. It was my first love."
In fact, my sustained love was less social and more about the ships themselves.
In 1990, my folks and I were on the inaugural sailing of Crystal Cruises. This was not just the inaugural cruise for any one ship but the entire line-brand new at the time well before its recent expansion.
The Crystal Harmony soon became one of my first loves as well.
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To this day, my parents joke about how funny it is that I would cry over the end of a sailing because even then we were frequent cruisers. It would seem I didn't quite fully understand as a kid that it would usually be within a year that another cruise would be around the corner for us.
Rather, I like to believe that I just loved cruising that much from the very beginning.
Eventually, of course, I stopped crying and relished every moment onboard knowing another voyage would soon be coming. Now the cherry on top of the sundae is that, in my thirties, I cruise even more often (Seabourn Encore was my 115th sailing) than I did.
It's the core part of what has truly become a dream job that I honestly never expected back when I was a kid.
I look back with particular fondness for the early times I had with my parents, traveling the world with them. I appreciate the chance to occasionally sail with them still. Into the future, I look forward to more opportunities to cruise with my wife, and if anything, I cry now only when she can't come with me.
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