Mary Ann Hemphill's first cruise was a trans Atlantic crossing from New York to Norway when her third-class fare was in the low three figures and the drinks were under a buck. She and her friends soon became adept at sneaking up from the lower deck to first-class, where the midnight buffets were much classier and the decor was far more elegant.
Several years went by between that glimpse of first class and actually experiencing the real thing. Her next cruise was on the Royal Viking Sea. The era of three-class ships was in the past--and she was hooked.
Since then, Mary Ann has cruised extensively, covering her travels for publications such as Bride's, Diversion, Travelage West, Vacations, Porthole, the Peak, Silver Kris, Chicago Tribune, Arkansas Democrat Gazette, Dallas Morning News, San Francisco Examiner, Los Angeles Times and Rocky Mountain News. She is also a frequent contributor to Travel Holiday. Mary Ann is the recepient of a Silver Award in the Lowell Thomas Travel Journalism Competition. Ever since a Royal Viking chef told her during an interview that, "You can't flag down a passing ship to borrow an onion," she's been intrigued about the behind-the-scenes cruise operations, which she has covered for International Cruise & Ferry Review and Cruise & Ferry Publications. She has received several photography awards from the Society of American Travel Writers.
Never wanting to be too far away from the water, Mary Ann lives with her husband, Bryan, in Newport Beach, California.
Her ideal ship would be one that has private verandas, down pillows, a sumptuous spa, great coffee and fabulous chocolate desserts. And it would take her and Bryan to her favorite ports, Venice and St. Petersburg.