Several members of the CruiseMates staff tell us their most romantic cruise memories for Valentine's Day.
Mary Ann Hemphil "Contributing Writer"
During a Crystal Harmony cruise, my husband, Bryan, and I had spent two days in Venice. We walked and wandered, got lost, found great things--little cafes, intriguing shops, appealing flower stands, kids playing soccer in the campos. We'd had our share of wine and gelato (two of the basic Italian food groups) and had taken a twilight gondola ride. After spending a couple of hours listening to the orchestras play on the Piazza San Marco, we reluctantly left, catching the last tender back to the ship.
At midnight, as the Crystal Harmony sailed out of Venice, we wrapped up in the ship's thick terry cloth robes, sat on our private veranda, popped a bottle of champagne and watched the shoreline--the churches, canals, piazzas and palaces--as the ship slowly left this magical city.
Ruth Landler "Contributing Writer"
When I was a very impressionable teenager, my family flew down to Puerto Rico for a long weekend and deposited me on a lounge chair around the fabulous pool-on-a-cliff at the El Conquistador Hotel. It was a long weekend which happened to coincide with Valentine's Day. I was ecstatic, and my Middle-Eastern skin darkened by the hour without even the hint of those horrible red blotches that plagued my friends at Jones Beach in the summer. So, I lolled contentedly, considering myself the luckiest girl in the world, people-watching mercilessly to pass the time.
Arriving at the pool at high-noon was a honeymoon couple who had just checked in to the hotel. They had opted for a weekend at the Conquistador at the front end of a land-cruise combination and were looking forward to a glorious week visiting the surrounding Caribbean islands. She was striking and incredibly thin. I had my usual female pang of jealously and envied her straight blonde hair and light blue eyes. Her husband wa a real catch, with a thick New York Italian accent and arrogance to match. They took their posts cliffside and proceeded to listen to the calypso band that wound its tunes around those Caribbean breezes that made the pool's position so ideal.
Several cokes for me and margaritas for them later, after we had the appropriate number of roasting turns for evenness of tan, he and I became fast friends and joked about New York accents, as she intently fixed herself upon the appropriate movements to ensure that not one portion of her body would escape the sun's rays. She described the halter-necked white dress that she would wear to the casino and dancing that evening, and finally, I retreated to my room for a nap before dinner.
At seven-thirty, they appeared. Valentine's roses were being passed out to the women at the bar. She took one, and I saw a striking resemblance between her skin and the deep crimson petals. She was literally burnt to a crisp. I realized that the girl could hardly move a muscle, and every lift of the hand and every step was accompanied by a groan that signalled excruciating pain. Her husband glared at her furiously.
It was all that I could do to stop myself from laughing. The swan had turned into a salamander, and the honeymoon, as the expression goes, was over. Literally.
Ah, the best laid plans of mice and men. Oft. Aft. Aglee. And I was slightly older, but a great deal wiser.
Fran Golden "Contributing Writer"
My most romantic cruise experience has to be dinner for two in our gorgeous suite on the Seabourn Pride on a fall New England cruise. Unlike other ships that may drop off a room service tray, this dinner involved several courses, brought individually, and served on the suite's coffee table which doubles as a dining table (the unique design allows the table's legs to be raised to dining table height). My husband and I looked out the large windows at the setting sun and gorgeous coastal scenery, as we dined, in privacy, on exquisite cuisine.
Another more casual, fun romantic experience was had on the Wind Spirit on a cruise from Nice to Rome. You can order popcorn in your cabin (nachos too) and watch movies in bed. All cabins have VCRs, and there is a great selection of movies including (if you are so inclined) "adult" titles.
A few other romantic tips I've picked up (but haven't experienced personally):
- I met one couple who said they always bring along items to decorate their cabin to make it feel special, including scented candles.
- A single friend swears the most romantic spot on a ship is the rear smokestack at sundown. She said it has something to do with the shadows, but I suspect privacy also comes into play.
- A certain captain who will remain unnamed, met his wife onboard and knew she was interested when she responded to his playing footsy with her at the Captain's Table.
Karen Allison "Community Leader"
I had gone to Casablanca expecting to meet a woman friend and tour Morocco for a week but she simply never appeared and there I was, alone in North Africa, a bit panicky about resources and uncertain what to do! A fellow American I'd met at the hotel pool suggested dinner and I accepted blindly, still trying to solve my problem. We tried to go to one of the restaurants in my guidebook but the first several were either closed or inappropriate - one, for instance, was a nightclub, not my idea of where to try to work out what to do next.
We stopped a gentleman on the street to ask directions to the next restaurant and he said (in French which fortunately is my second language) "It's too complicated to tell you, let me take you there." When I hesitated, he said "let me show you something to allay your fears" and pulled out a chain with a Star of David on it. Well, a fellow Jew in Arab Morocco - how could I not let him lead us to the restaurant?"
Indeed, Armand Pinto took us to the restaurant, then he took a week's vacation from his job and accompanied me to Marrakesh after showing me all around Casablanca. It was a whirlwind vacation, romantic and far better with a charming guide than my prospective week would have been with my girlfriend.
You ask how I could trust a stranger in a strange land and my response is that sometimes you simply have to make a decision about a person's character and my experience has been that trusting your instincts can lead to the very best experiences.
Al Cerrachio "Contributing Writer"
Perhaps my most romantic moment at sea was when our daughter got engaged while onboard the Norway, March, 1998. Her fiancee, Tom, asked me to sneak aboard the engagement ring, which I hid in my camera case. I did my part and kept it a total secret. Then on formal night, Tom pretended to be feeling ill at the dinner table and said he needed some fresh air. My daughter, Cristi, went to see if he was alright and that's when he popped the question. I will never forget how my daughter was simply beaming when she returned, and her mother laughing, smiling and crying. To say the least it was a truly memorable experience. Today they are happily married!
Maddy Cohen "Family Cruising Editor"
Before the diapers, tricycles, beanie babies and pokemon, there was just us. We went to the late seating at dinner, saw all the shows and even checked out the disco at midnight. Since we are shore excursion junkies, we never relaxed in port. There was always something more to see.
One time, about 14 years ago, we had one of those quiet moments when time seems to stand still. We were on the Tropicale sailing out of LA down the coast of Mexico. Mazatlan and Puerto Vallarta were their usual crazy selves. But back then, Cabo San Lucas was undeveloped. It wasn't big enough to be called Los Cabos yet. We strolled to the far side of the landing area, beyond the two small hotels that existed then, and found a storybook beach.
No one else was around. The beach and jagged rocks were a rosy peach color. There were no footprints in the sand. The water was a deep aquamarine. Picture postcard perfect. We walked along the beach holding hands. We sat on the sand and looked out at the water. There was no need to speak. The ability to experience shared solitude in the middle of a big noisy party is so precious. This was one of the most romantic moments we'll remember from our travels.
Paul Motter "Publisher"
My most romantic cruise was also aboard the Royal Viking Sun. I went with a woman I had just met who I found to be very intriguing, intelligent and attractive. Somehow, when she invited me to go I wasn't surprised because we had so much in common and were already getting along so well. She told me she was taking a chance and that she had never done anything so impetuous before, and I believed her, but I found out that she could be incredibly spontaneous and romantic, too.
The most romantic night was the one in which we chose to stay in our cabin and allow our stewardess to serve us dinner on the balcony. On this ship you could order from the dining room menu for your dinner, so I jokingly told the stewardess we wanted "everything on the menu." I then said I was teasing and gave her our real order. Imagine my surprise when six entrees arrived, for two people! She really was bringing us everything on the menu! We sampled a little bit of everything, and ate way more than we should. The night was sublime on the balcony, clear with shining stars, just the right temperature and very little wind. It was the perfect setting for the beginning of a long and loving relationship.
Donna Nye "Community Leader"
There is nothing quite like cruising to celebrate a romantic occasion. My husband and I along with our daughter and her boyfriend sailed on "Rhapsody of the Seas" last year to celebrate our upcoming 25th wedding anniversary. Besides a very beautiful ship, we visited some of the islands in the southern Caribbean, which is an experience in itself. I absolutely loved this itinerary although it can be very port intensive. In the future if there's an island that just doesn't interest me, I plan on just staying on the ship.
This was the first time we had a cabin with a balcony, which I now cannot sail without, you truly get spoiled. There is nothing like having your first cup of coffee in the morning, sitting out there. That also goes for late in the evening before you turn in, just sitting out there with your loved one. Even though we had a nice size suite on Rhapsody, we still had 4 adults in one cabin, totally different hours, interests, etc. The kids enjoyed the disco at night and us older folks would get up and tour the different islands, so they tried to keep the noise to a minimum at night while my husband had to get going in the morning while trying not to wake them. Needless to say, they missed seeing some of the islands, due to sleeping the entire morning, so while cruising you want to experience everything, you must make decisions.
I think the highlight of this cruise was the kids did some shopping in St. Maarten, unknown to us. When they returned they had a beautiful diamond ring and announced that they were engaged, of course everyone was thrilled. Both my husband and myself had no idea any of this was going on, so we will all remember this cruise for that. The wedding should be some time next June.
There is just something about cruising that brings the romantic side out in most of us. Is it the sea, stars at night, ship? What ever it is, I want to cruise as much as possible, just to take that late night stroll around the deck with just the waves, wind and the piece and quiet with someone you care about, there is just nothing like it anywhere.
Susan Milne "Ship's Editor"
Romance on the High Seas A Family Tradition!
Being at sea is such a romantic experience, it is the perfect place to celebrate any romantic event; an engagement, honeymoon or anniversary. As Valentines Day approaches once again, and I ponder the most romantic event on the high seas for me over the last year, I find myself thinking about my son.
Julian and his wife, Barbara, took the Splendour of the Seas to the North Cape of Norway after their June wedding. What a wonderful time they had on that magnificent ship, sailing through the dramatic scenery of the Fjords and crossing the Arctic Circle. They returned home saying it was "perfect".
Julian and Barbara were following a family tradition by cruising to Norway. Julian's grandparents had sailed to Oslo on their honeymoon in 1946. That cruise was characterized by post-war realities including curtains instead of doors on the cabins. This was in case the ship hit a mine in the North Sea - curtains won't jam the way doors do. Fifty-three anniversaries and forty cruises later, Grandma Eunice and Grandpa Bill are still going strong. They are an inspiration to Julian and Barbara for a successful marriage and a long line of romantic cruises ahead.
Also keeping up the tradition were my brother and his wife back in 1968 on the Homeric and his son and daughter-in-law in 1997 on Majesty of the Seas. The entire family seems to be in agreement. Being at sea is the most romantic place to celebrate.
Linda Pearl "Community Leader"
My hubby says I will talk to anyone if given 1/2 a chance, and I people-watch like crazy, so when I was in the airport waiting for my plane to wing its way down to Florida for my cruise, as usual, I was scoping out the lounge and happened to focus in on this woman, for no particular reason, who was sitting across from me.
She was alone for a while,and then was joined by her husband. The last time I did this, a woman sat across from me on the plane and we started talking and it turned out we had the same last name, and talking further, she was distantly related to my husband, what a surprise ! Well when we boarded the plane this time the woman I had focused on and her husband were seated next to me.
Coincidence? I think not!
Well, of course, once we started chatting, I learned she lived in the town next to me and we knew some of the same people. As we started to taxi, I quickly learned she was petrified of flying. I am a white knuckle flyer myself, but I found myself in the role of trying to calm her down, and eventually ended up holding her hand for a while while I tried to soothe her fears! We ended up chatting the whole flight, and if anyone saw us they would have sworn we were old and fast friends. Once we deplaned we hugged and kissed, and promised we would email each other. My husband gave me one of those looks like, "I told you, you will talk to anyone," but with a bit of pride in his eyes this time...