The Accidental Cruiser

We didn’t really intend to take this trip.

Year before last, we had gone with a group of 7 friends to Switzerland and Italy for two weeks, and we’d had a terrific time. And four months later Karen and I were in Cannon Beach, Oregon for our annual anniversary weekend together. It was two days before New Year 2016, and we were enjoying our time at the coast. We had no plans to travel for at least a couple of years – probably not until after we retired from work.

I got a text from Joyce (who had been part of our group of 7) while we were walking around the shops in Cannon Beach. She said “Only 2 days left for free air fare on a cruise of the Danube!” And that was interesting – because we’d just been talking about a river cruise. Not seriously, of course. But Mom had brought it up. She’d been talking to one of her friends, who had the idea of taking each of her kids, one at a time, with their spouses, on a trip. And Mom thought that would be fun. So she told us about it. Mom was with us on our Switzerland/Italy trip and she had not done real well health-wise. It was really too much for her. So when she proposed another trip we thought that maybe she’d do better on a cruise.

Now I’m not a cruise fan. I don’t really like sea travel – I get seasick. And the cruise-style vacation has no appeal for me (neither do resorts). I like an active vacation, where I go to the places that are most interesting. On previous trips we’ve had to try and work around shore excursions – groups of 50-100 people following a lady with an umbrella who is talking into a sound system. They are really annoying; they take up a ton of space and you just have to sit and wait for them to pass. When there are dozens of them, like in Dubrovnik or Cinque Terre, they ruin the experience for everyone else.

But I’d heard that river cruises were different. Instead of 5000 people on a ship, you have 200. None of the fancy, expensive big cruise ship luxuries. It’s a more casual, intimate experience – closer to the type of vacation that we are used to. So for Mom’s sake we thought that it might be worth considering, and she liked that idea. So we agreed to think about it, sometime. We made no plans.

And then Joyce sent me a text. I called her and got more information. We loved the dates and the destination. Free airfare seemed like a good deal. I called Mom and she said “Let’s do it!” To seal the deal, Joyce agreed to be Mom’s roommate on the ship, so they would not have to pay single rates. The trip was 16 months away: April, 2017.

None of my siblings had made any plans with Mom yet – we were the first to set up a vacation with her. But since then, they’ve all planned and gone on cruises with her. They’ve had a great time; Ken and Sue cruised the Hawaiian Islands, and Peggy/Kevin/John/LuVonne did a two-couple Caribbean cruise. Mom loved all of it. But she almost didn’t get to go on that Caribbean cruise (it was last January). Her health began to decline late last year and she has become considerably weaker. They ended up renting a wheelchair for her and she got along fine.

But Mom’s health has not improved, and her doctor has advised against this trip for her. So we are going without her. It’s disappointing, but we will have fun, and we’ll bring home pictures and stories.