Bon Voyage! Cruising North America in Every Season
“If you are seeking recreation and your mind needs a vacation from the troubles of the day, you want to flee. If the Arctic makes you shiver and you can’t stand a lake or river; hop on a ship that’s heading down to Rio!”
Doris Day and Janis Paige sang this catchy tune in the opening scene of Romance on the High Seas (1948). They capture the sentiments of a sailing holiday perfectly. Cruise travel remains popular today not only because it is the backdrop for movies, song lyrics and literature, but because cruises are an affordable vacation that appeal to many people seeking fun, adventure, relaxation and a way to create lasting memories.
As a solo traveler, a cruise vacation allows me to define time and space on my terms without schedules, obligations and, of course, alarm clocks. The only sounds that surround me are the crashing of waves against the sides of the ship or the steel drums of a calypso band. Each day an attentive cabin steward leaves a daily planner of events that highlight activities and ports of call. Cruise activities range from rock wall climbing, ballroom dancing, and wine tasting, to lounging on deck with the cocktail of the day. Toe-tapping Broadway shows with headline performers, art auctions selling masterpieces, a game of blackjack at the casino along with an array of food venues to please any palate are some of the choices for the ocean voyager.
While the busy pace of the daily on-board activities keeps you on the move from one end of the ship to the other, it is the noteworthy places where the ship docks that add to the excitement and adventure. Each ship’s itinerary is unique, with opportunities on shore to meet new people eager to share their culture, customs, and landscape. The changing seasons often shape the direction of your course and the voyages you choose to take.
Winters on the northeast coast of the United States are damp and snowy. The dark, cold days make you long for warmer locales. A trip to the Caribbean is just the antidote to chase the winter blues away. Temperatures average about 80 degrees daily, along with longer sunny days.
One port of call that cannot be missed is the island of Aruba, located within the Leeward Antilles (which also include Bonaire and Curacao). Cruise ships dock right across from the main shopping complex in the capital city of Oranjestad. There are stores to fit every budget and taste, along with an open market nearby to purchase native crafts. The north end of the island has secluded, pristine beaches with places to scuba dive or snorkel. For the more active traveler, rent an ATV or segway and explore the dusty, desert-like terrain or sand dunes. The newly restored California Lighthouse stands 98 feet tall on the island’s edge and you can climb it for unforgettable panoramic views.
Mark Twain wrote: “You can go to heaven if you want, I’d rather stay in Bermuda.” Warmer days, flowers blooming, and bird chirping are all signs of spring. A cruise to Bermuda should be added to the list. Bermuda is located several hundred miles off the South Carolina coast, in the North Atlantic. Bermuda beaches are known for pink sands and brilliant turquoise waters. The most popular beach is Horseshoe Bay, on the island’s south coast. There are picturesque rock formations, private coves and miles of beach to stroll. Fish swim close to the shore and can be seen as you wade in the water. Swimming with the dolphins is a popular attraction located near the ship’s dock at the Royal Naval Dockyard. The National Museum of Bermuda and an old naval fort can also be found here.
For something different–cruises to Alaska sail from May to September from major cities on the west coast. The natural beauty of the state, with its snow-capped mountains and ice blue glaciers, along with whale sightings and eagles soaring overhead, are not soon forgotten. Juneau, the capital city, provides opportunities for salmon fishing or an up-close visit to the Mendenhall Glacier. A visit to Skagway is a return to the days of the Gold Rush era. Take a ride on a vintage locomotive for spectacular views of the Canadian mountains.
Autumn is when nature’s palette changes, and the brilliant colors created by falling leaves are best viewed from the deck of a cruise to Maine and Nova Scotia. The Old Port in Portland, Maine with its cobblestoned streets and 19th century buildings share its sailing history as well as nautical themed shops. Lobster meals are the main attraction at most restaurants, but if you are in a hurry, grab a delicious lobster roll served on a buttery, golden bun.
Halifax, Nova Scotia is known for one of the most photographed lighthouses, Peggy’s Cove. If you enjoy the pageantry of military parades, consider a visit to the Halifax Citadel National Historical site to see the Scottish regiment.
Cruise travel has adventures for everyone in any season and a world of opportunities from coast to coast.