The only Christmas wishes that never come true are the ones that you don't make. So, this year we asked our cruise-loving staff to tell Santa, via CruiseMates' pages, to express their Christmas (Chanukka, Kwanza, Eid ul-Fitr) cruise wishes.
I want a cruise for every person in the United States who has never been on one. It can be on any cruise line, but I recommend Carnival. Why? Because Carnival offers a plain and simple cruise, affordable yet still top-notch in all the ways that count; food, service, destinations, entertainment and accomodations -- all the things that cruising is all about. Cruising is even better than almost anyone who has never cruised expects it to be, a vacation experience with food, transportation and entertainment all included at one price, but each element surpasses the average restaurant, plane trip or nighttime entertainment that you would pay for individually.
Santa, there are just too many misperceptions out there about what a cruise is really like. Non-cruisers typically have visions of tiny "boats" with closet-like bedrooms and bathrooms down the hall. They picture cabins with two single width lumpy mattresses stuck against walls, and a single lightbulb swinging from the center of the room from the motion of the ocean.
WRONG! Cruise cabins are amazingly big and comfortable. Almost every cruise line now has brand new queen or king-size mattresses and linens, of the type you find at top hotels. Staterooms have sofas, walk-in closets, bathrooms with showers or tubs offering never-ending hot water and televisions running commercial-free movies day and night. Most cabins have minibars full of tasty treats and libations, and balconies overlooking miles and miles of nothing but the open sea. The cabins also come with smiling room stewards who clean up not just once, but TWICE a day! In the morning they do a thorough scrubbing and then at night they come back to hang fresh towels, turn down your bed, leave chocolates on your pillows and twist your bathrobe into funny little animal shapes like dogs or snakes.
In cruise ship restaurants, the food is delicious. You get five courses with salads, appetizers, soup, entrees (of shrimp, lobster, sushi, or steak) and desserts that are divine. Throughout the day by the pools you can get hamburgers, free ice cream cones, or pizza 24 hours around the clock. You can have a FULL breakfast delivered to your cabin at no cost, and you don't have to caution your wife about spending too much on room service. Let her have an extra waffle or four eggs and sausages if she wants.
There is SO much to do; during the day you can go on deck and dance to rock or soul music, play cards or bingo, shop for everything from Faberge to flip-flops, have a massage, eat four times a day, use the library or Internet, or gamble in the casino or have a solemn game of chess or bridge with new friends. At night you can dance to jazz or big band style music, go to the singalong piano bar or disco nightclubs more dazzling than anything you see outside of New York or Las Vegas. You can gamble some more in the casino, or see great entertainment by professionally casted stage shows with Vegas-like scenery and special effects featuring comedians, singers, dancers, jugglers, acrobats and more.
And to top it off, you are on a moving vessel, so you wake up every morning (except days at sea) in a fresh destination full of exciting things to see and do. What other vacation gives you all of that? None.
So, Santa... please drop a cruise into the stocking of everyone on the planet and let them see what everyone here at CruiseMates has been so excited about all these years. I know that all it takes to create a cruise lover is to make a person a first-time cruiser. And what gift could be better than one that turns out to be so much better than expected?
Steve is our newest CruiseMates staff-member. His area of expertise is Royal Caribbean. He can't get enough of them and he knows something about all of their ships.
Dear Santa: My name is Steve, and I've been a really good boy this year. I've eaten all my food (and then some), cleaned up after myself, helped around the house, been really nice to my wife and kids, and worked real hard at my job. I haven't written for 40 years, so I hope you remember me, and will accept this letter as making up for lost time. I'm writing you to ask for my dream cruise: a Royal Caribbean, half-world 40-night Mediterranean-trans Atlantic-Caribbean-Panama-Hawaii model ultra cruise.
It's really for my wife, 'cause our kids are grown and she deserves a long R&R. I'll just go along to take care of her and remind her why she married me. You may not have had this request before, so I'll give you a little list of what it should include. Like all good lists, it's numbered, but in no particular order. If you can see it in your heart to make this happen, I will never ask you for another thing. I promise!
- First Class airfare would be nice. It's a long flight (not as long as yours, but then we don't have reindeer).
- A limo ride from the airport with a really big trunk, in fact can you make it one of those Hummer limos? I think we'll need room for all our luggage. New luggage: not Louis Vuitton, Costco will be fine.
- Itinerary: could you have it start in the Mediterranean? My wife would really like to go to see Europe. A trans Atlantic crossing would be nice, then circle the Southern Caribbean. Please include St. Maarten, St. Lucia, Barbados, Antigua, Aruba, Curacao, and any others you and the reindeer like to vacation at. Then through the Panama Canal, and across the Pacific to Hawaii. And to save airfare, have it end in Seattle.
- Ship: The Brilliance of the Seas. My wife loves the art on board, the Centrum, the Colony Club, the Solarium and the overall feel of this ship. Plus I might need to sleep on one of the self-leveling pool tables while crossing the Atlantic.
- Stateroom: Okay, this one's a bit indulgent. We'd like the Royal Suite for us, and two Owner's Suites for our grown kids. They won't care, but people will think we're too uppity if we stick them in Inside cabins while we're in the RS. Plus I've always wanted to have a walk-thru closet behind my bed, and 2 marble bathrooms.
- Butler service: how else can we have breakfast in bed?
- Champagne, canapés, and chocolate strawberries on random nights. Every night would get old, surprise us!
- Spa treatments,all of them please. I need to detox, re-energize, de-stress, tighten up, whiten up, mud up, rock rub, salt soak, and power shower on this trip.
- Reservations at a window table every third night at Chops or Portofinos.
- Lobster night every night we eat in the Dining Room.
- Reserved seats for every show: front row, center. We love the production shows! Speaking of production shows, would you please arrange to have "Forever Plaid" performed as the special show? Those guys are a cut up.
- An Ice sculpture in our suite. I just love those things.
- Private early viewing of the Midnight Gala Buffet, and then a really big plate of Prawns.
- Helicopter, so we don't have to tender to those islands.
- Deck Chairs reserved for us with unlimited pool towels.
- Medication for my Vacation: unlimited bar service.
- A quart of sunscreen
- An Owner's Suite for our best friends: ML & Gary
I'll leave cookies and Coke for you, and carrots for the reindeer. Check the Weather Channel and be careful Santa! Your friend, Steve
Mary Lou Scanlon
Mary Lou is one of our long-time message board and chat hostesses. She has been with CruiseMates since the turn of the Millennium.
The thing I am looking forward to more than anything is the unusual itinerary. The cruise begins in Baltra and visits exciting places, most of which I cannot even pronounce. Sailing the Galapagos Islands will be an adventure of a lifetime. This cruise will be full of interesting wild life such as the blue footed booby, iguanas, flamingos, stilts and white cheeked pintail ducks, penguins, whales and dolphins. Maybe we can snorkel in Devil's Crown Volcanic Cone and see species such as grunts, groupers, chubs, spotted eagle rays, white-tipped reed sharks, sea stars, parrotfish.
My husband will be thrilled not to be dragged through another jewelry store or souvenir store while on excursions. I venture to say this cruise will be unlike any we've done to date and I'm really looking forward to experiencing what nature has to offer.
Santa, please remember, I've been a very good girl this year! If you bring me this cruise, there will be a huge plate of cookies and milk in it for you,..or maybe even a hot toddy or two.
Ingrid, who goes by the moniker "Mermaid" and can be elusive as one, is responsible for our Cruise Trivia game.
Dear Santa, When I lay my head down on my pillow this Christmas Eve I will not have visions of dancing sugar plums, but rather visions of cruising on The World. Santa, I wish for a year long cruise in my very own apartment at sea on The World of ResidenSea! The Residence Plan E2 at over 3,000 square feet will do very nicely. With three bedrooms and three 1/2 baths I will be able to accommodate all my family and friends as they join me on various "legs" of the cruise throughout the year. The two living areas, wet bar, dining room and expansive aft wrap around balcony complete with jacuzzi will make entertaining a breeze! And Santa, if you make my Christmas wish come true, I promise to bake you all the cookies you can eat in the lavishly appointed gourmet kitchen. Or, take you out to eat in one of the ship's four elegant restaurants. If you would prefer a more casual meal, there are several cafes and grills. We could even eat in, and have our very own private chef cook our meal - nothing but the best for you Santa! The ultimate Christmas gift would be the owner's deed to my very own cruise ship apartment to enjoy year after year, but it's okay to just rent it for me if you're a little tight this year.
The 2007 itinerary is to die for and I would be able to visit so many of the places you see every Christmas Eve. I know you prefer travel by reindeer and sleigh, but just wait till you have tried a cruise ship - you may just have to relocate your primary residence from the North Pole to The World.
The cruise begins by experiencing Antarctica's breathtaking vistas and intriguing wildlife. Then it's back to civilization to party in Rio de Janeiro during carnival. A slow winding cruise on the Amazon River before crossing the Atlantic will be a restful break before visiting the Canary Islands, Portugal and Barcelona. I will arrive in Cannes' just in time to catch a flick at the Festival International. And I can't think of a better way to spend the rest of the year than to visit all of Europe's best ports of call. From the Mediterranean to the Baltic and back again to the Med, well, it will be simply amazing.
For this once in a lifetime experience, I simply must have the best camera equipment to capture my travels to enjoy over and over again. One of the latest and greatest gazillion pixel digital cameras for the still shots, and a tiny video camera will be just fine, along with a new laptop computer to store and email all my great photo shots of the world. I'll be anxious to share my experiences with all my cruise friends at CruiseMates.com, so please be sure the pc is set up with wifi.
I believe that my current wardrobe is a bit lacking for all the world traveling I'll be doing, so a few thousand dollar gift certificates to Chico's, TravelSmith and Ebags will sure come in handy. Oh, and if you can manage it, some extra cash or shipboard credit for shore excursions for myself, family and friends will make those ports even more memorable.
I've been a very good cruiser, I mean person, all year long, and promise to do the same in 2007. Please let me find my cruise docs to my apartment on The World under my Christmas tree this year. I will be doc dancing all the way to my New Year's Eve party!
Yours truly, Mermaid
onna is a favorite message board and chat hostess at CruiseMates, she has more posts in our message boards than any other single human being, 16,593! And every single one of them is as sweet and helpful as any human being can be.
I would love to go on this sister ship to "Freedom of the Seas" doing an Eastern itinerary having just done a Western on Freedom of the Seas. I believe these ships are the best way to cruise when you are going with a group or family members. During the days, everyone would be free to do their own thing and meet up at "early" dinner, since there would be quite a few kids with us.
I absolutely love Royal Caribbean's Voyager, Radiance and Freedom class ships. They are wonderful for cruising with family/kids. If you left this cruise under my tree this year, I'd go with my two grown kids and their families. My son and his wife are expecting their first child later this year and could be here in time for Christmas. My daughter has an almost 3 year old son and I just know he'd have a ball cruising on Liberty of the Seas. I would also love to have my boyfriend's kids and grandkids join us too. This would be a first cruise for them, and what better way to introduce them to cruising than going on a mega ship like this. If Liberty is anything like its sister ship, Freedom, its bound to be wonderful.
I know there are a lot of fancier, expensive cruises out there, but for me, another Royal Caribbean cruise with family and friends is what I'm looking for. They offer more than most can expect to do in just one week.
There have been a few excursions I wouldn't mind doing again with my kids, like the America's Cup Regatta in St. Maarten. I've also had a blast doing the mini boats there too. Unfortunately we had just tried the Canopy tour in Jamaica and that was totally thrilling and yes, scary too, but I would love to do that again if one of these ports has that available. It would also be fun to go back to Orient beach, everyone would love that beach, lots to do and see there. Not sure if it would be appropriate for the younger kids?? I think I'd also like to get back to St. Johns when we stop in St. Thomas. Other than being in Hawaii, this island comes in close to its beauty, I'd love to share that with people close to me.
Of course to really make this gift extra special, I'd book a string of cabins on the aft section and we can all enjoy those balconies watching sunsets, and seeing the sun rise. Just relaxing with the entire family for a whole week would be one of the best presents you can leave me.
Other than being able to dine together in the evenings, we'd have to all go to the ice show together, what a show. To top the cruise off, all going to the "quest" would be another highlight of this special family cruise.
Just too many reasons I'd love to do this cruise on Liberty of the Seas and sure hope you leave it.
Linda is our main chat hostess. She has a breezy sense of humor and likes to tell it to people like it is, that she is the Queen of the cruising world and what she says is law.
The Mediterranean breeze wafted through the open balcony doors, and the blue skies were as bright as the ocean below, and the butler was gently waking me, with a cup of tea,and a tray of pastries. This cruise was going to be......
Suddenly I was jolted awake by the harsh alarm clock,looked out the window,to a dreary landscape, and a hard day at work ahead. Shaking my head awake, I ambled to the computer to check my mail. Spam, why so much spam? Don't they know, I don't need a mortgage, viagra, or 10 more credit cards? Okay, spammers, can you say "delete?"
Then I saw the one email left standing..You have won.....Oh sure I have! You always say that to me! should I click delete, or should I read it? What to do, what to do! Okay. You win. I clicked it on, and I did win! The publishers Clearing House said...Linda Pearl, you have won our 10 million dollar sweepstake!! WOW, how wonderful! What will I do? Well, I will play Santa this year, and take all my family on a magical Mediterranean cruise, just like the one I was dreaming about, before I was so rudely awakened!
Work, what's that? I am now newly retired and on my way to the travel agency, to select our dream cruise. After sitting with the travel agent, and discussing my options, I finally settled on Oceania Cruises, a line I have yet to sail. Many people who have sailed their ships have raved about them, so, I will book a back to back for everyone, done deal!
With Christmas just a few weeks away, I decided to act quickly,and wanted the presentation of my gifts to have the wow factor. Each will get a cruise stocking filled to the brim with tickets,brochures, underwater cameras, and a "Look what I got for Christmas" tee shirt!
Our itinerary will start on Nautica going from Istanbul to Kusadasi, Rhodes, Delos, Mykonos, Santorini, Katakolon and Corfu in Greece, Dubrovnik Croatia; Corfu, and finally to Athens. Then we will pick up the Insignia and see Malta, Siciliy, Isle of Capri, Amalfi, Florence and end up in Civtavecheia, the port for Rome.
I have booked all of us, the best suites on the ship, plenty of room for parties, with the Captain and new friends! We have multiple reservations in the Toscana Italian, Polo Grill and the Terrace Cafe, all alternative restaurants included in the cruise for no extra cost. Oh and dinner with the Captain,is a given, but of course;)
Unlimited use of the Spa will be a sanctuary, to have our tired muscles tended to. Hot rock massages.... You want one every day? Go for it! Everyone will also receive an open end shipboard credit, to get whatever they want. Private car excursions will be waiting in every port :) Doesn't this sound like heaven? It does to me:)
Suddenly I was jolted awake by the harsh alarm clock...
Kuki is CruiseMates cruise director, in other words he is in charge of the fun and frolic that happens in the site and on most of our CruiseMates' cruises. And like the most famous cruise director in the world, Julie, (Loveboat - who else could I mean?), he often plays the matchmaker as well. In fact, other than ships the only time I ever see Kuki is at a wedding.
Please Bring Me a Cruise For Chrismakkah
With the holiday season approaching, and the temperatures around the Canadian north that I call home plummeting, I can't help but dream about spending my time in warmer climes, enjoying more pleasant weather, while participating in my favorite activity, doing nothing at sea! While one might think it's easy to do nothing anywhere, that's truly not the case. Sometimes it's just too cold , or too hot, to do nothing, and it can be tiresome looking around for the right place to do it. The time spent deciding where you're going to do nothing can be so consuming and difficult that by the time you make the decision of where to do nothing you're much too worn out to do it.
I recall many discussions with friends and family about where and when the best place to do nothing would be. However we rarely came to any agreement because, like me, everyone preferred to do nothing, and to discuss the question, we'd all have to be doing something, instead of enjoying each other's company and doing nothing. I could do nothing at home, but doing nothing at home requires doing something. Home has to cleaned, and meals prepared, and in this climate to prepare for doing nothing you have to do something about earning money to heat your home, launder clothing, buy groceries etc. At home there's dog's and kids always needing something to prevent me from doing nothing.
If I had been better prepared, and had done some planning, I could have simply booked a cruise for myself long ago, while I was doing something, to get away to do nothing, but unfortunately I procrastinated because when I did have a break from doing something I was too busy doing nothing to do something about it. In my past I've done nothing in some of the finest places on earth, and those are some of my fondest memories. I don't try to reflect on those times too often, because, of course, that would mean I'd have to be doing something.
So here I am appealing to friends, family, Santa, George Bush, or Oprah, help me achieve my nirvana, put me on a cruise ship, any ship, sailing anywhere on earth that's warm.
A 14 day cruise to nowhere would be perfect, as there'd be no ports for me to have to decide not to visit. And if you could arrange it, I'd ask you to send 4 or 5 hundred friends with me, as I do tend to get lonely doing nothing by myself, and enjoy the company of friends. Just try and pick those friends who love to do nothing as well, because watching my cruise friends doing all sorts of shipboard activities can really wear me out. And please don't do nothing about this request -- doing nothing is my job.