I had the good fortune to join the inaugural sailing of the Carnival Magic, a vessel spawned by industry giant Carnival Cruise Lines.
Yes, that mesmerizing Italian city was the launching point for the freshly-minted, 3,690 passenger Carnival Magic.
And, no surprise, there was plenty of magic from the start. The nine- night cruise got underway with a traditional and enthusiastic naming ceremony during which Lindsey Wilkerson, a childhood cancer survivor, was bestowed the title of “godmother”. The champagne-filled event highlighted Carnival’s commitment to St. Jude’s Research Hospital.
With such formalities handled, it was time to explore the ship and find out for myself why sailing the open seas has become an increasingly popular option for travelers of all ages.
Given that I was new to this cruise ship game, I brought along a trusty companion. Colleen Horan, my long time friend and college roommate, was on board to help me solve this maritime mystery. Sure, there were plenty of family members, friends and relatives who were eager for the assignment. But in the end, I thought I would share at least eleven reasons why collecting cruise vacation intel with your college roommate is a grand strategy:
1. Sharing is simple. Checking into our cabin, we already knew that sharing the smaller-than-our-bedrooms-at- home space would not be a problem. Back in those college days, we shared far less fancy digs and managed just fine. And whatever we were lacking in our new sea-faring space, was more than compensated for by the cheery folks who came knocking at our door to deliver morning coffee, croissants, fresh towels, or whatever our hearts desired at any time of the day.
2. Knowing nods. As we strolled from deck to deck with sun glasses firmly in place, we didn’t need full sentences to fully communicate about the people, places and events (like the hairy chest contest) we were observing. A knowing nod, or a slight giggle said it all.
3. The right answer. Each night, as we dressed for dinner in our cabin, it was dining decision time. Would it be the beautiful new Italian Cucina del Capitano, the sushi bar or the trendy Red Frog Pub? Perhaps the Prime Steak house? While we pondered those culinary options, we often traded clothes and jewelry. And when we posed that all important question: “Does this look ok?" , we always got the right answer.
4. Happy sampling. We were each happy to sample each others food or wine and innately knew the meaning of a “taste”, unlike say, a teenaged boy.
5. Spa time? YES! There was no negotiating about spending time at the onboard spa. We were definitely making that a priority.
6. Talking in circles. We could endlessly circle the deck-top jogging track, part of the ship’s uber-hip Sport Square activity area, and never run out of things to talk about.
7. Off duty. We could enjoy great meals or snacks at virtually every time of the day and neither of us had to cook…or clean up.
8. Water babes. We both looked approvingly at the bright and shiny WaterWorks, a colorful water play area overlooking the main pool deck. (Reported to be one of the largest at sea.) In our youth, we were both water-friendly, swim team members. Had it been just a little bit warmer, we would have taken on the 312-foot-long Twister or the gotta-scream-as-you-circle-your- way down DrainPipe.
9. Free birds. We could stay up late and gossip. Or sleep in. Why? No one needed a ride, extra money, an instant answer or our opinion about anything. We were free to revert to our inner teenaged selves.
10. It's all good. When headed off the ship for shore excursions, (to great places like Dubrovnik, Rome and Vatican City, Taormina, and Cinque Terra) we could shop, explore, photograph, dine, sample, chat, hike, observe or return together….or not. Because that’s what life-long friends can do.
11. Memories old and new. Throughout the adventure, from Venice to Barcelona, we could laugh heartily at each other’s jokes, remember the good ole days (when our stomachs were flatter) and be extraordinarily grateful for the amazing day before us.
For more information about planning your own cruise, visit www.Carnival.com or contact your travel agent.