In our Book “The Next Step Planning the Road through Retirement” (Chap 7 pp 125-6), I suggested that a great way to enjoy a fantastic holiday is to embark on a cruise. I had, at that time, enjoyed a few cruises and found they suited us as a couple and also us as an extended family. In all cases, we found that cruising offers a fantastic option and provides a memorable and, not necessarily expensive holiday.

Since our book was published I have been very fortunate to experience a few more cruises, which clearly re-enforces my strong belief that a cruise can provide so much enjoyment and pleasure. Last month my wife Bev and I enjoyed a 1-week cruise on the “Symphony of the Seas” traveling from Civitavecchia (the port for Rome) to Barcelona and back.

On the cruise, we visited the following ports: Naples, Palma de Mallorca, Marseilles, and La Spezia. The majority of these cities, we had never visited before and enjoyed all of them, in different ways. Being a large cruise ship I was able to book the free entertainment available in advance. We enjoyed all the events and shows we attended including:

  • A Stand-up Comedy Show- very funny with plenty of good laughs.
  • Flight- A musical based on the early flight history, also very enjoyable.
  • “Hairspray”- Broadway show- Brilliant and the highlight of the entertainment provided.
  • “1977- Ice Show”, a musical based on the UK in 1977
  • “Hiro”- performed at the Aqua theatre, including high flying feats and stunts. Great entertainment

In addition, the food on board ship was excellent – with numerous specialty restaurants which one could choose (at an additional cost). As the food was so good, we did not go to any of the specialised restaurants but chose to eat at the various eating establishments at no additional cost. Our dining seating at night was only for the two of us, which was great as we could spend some quality time together. However, at breakfast, we were able to meet many interesting passengers from other countries, which included America, Russia, and Brazil. It was great to hear about their country, and what they think of ours.

The ship accommodated over 6,600 passengers and over 2,200 staff but, at no stage, did we experience any over-crowding and never had to wait in any long queues. When we wished to disembark or re-board the ship there were several points set aside for this purpose.

There was so much to do on board ship that it was virtually impossible to cover all the activities available for passengers. We had only one day at sea when we attended the Captain’s question and answer session. The Captain covered a wide range of issues including his career to-date and interesting aspects of this ship. At lunchtime, we were treated to a great parade on deck 5 called the Promenade, where many of the cruise staff provided a great display, with the theme being maritime.

I have not attempted to cover all the activities on board but to leave our readers with the thought that cruising is really a great way to spend a holiday and besides all the activities on board, explore some really exciting and interesting