I just got back from an 8-day small ship cruise of the New England islands and other spots where everything was done so perfectly I had a marvelous time. And the funny part was I didn't want to go at all. As I mentioned earlier I have been very busy making the final edits on my new book, "That Certain Summer," which will be published some time this fall, and taking time off for a sailing adventure was the last thing I had in mind. But a dear friend, a fellow widow, talked me into it, and you know something?--I'm very glad she did!
My husband and I had been on cruises before where the accent was on keeping you busy every minute, or so it seemed. But this small ship cruise was entirely different. From the moment we stepped aboard the vessel, that only carried 100 passengers, we were in another world of congeniality and relaxation. Were we cosseted and pampered? "You bet your bottom dollar," as the old sage says, but who doesn't like a little attention now and then? The top-notch staff was friendly and helpful, the food delicious (lobster every day if you wanted it), and the guest speakers, who filled us in on the history and culture of the places we visited, were extremely informative and lots of fun, too.
I was fascinated by the whaling museum in New Bedford (what those poor fishermen had to go through in those days in their quest for the mighty whale) and as a fellow writer I was intrigued by Seaman's Bethel chapel, which Herman Melville described in his great novel, "Moby Dick." We visited the enchanting islands of Nantucket and Martha's Vineyard, and had a glimpse of the opulence of the Gilded Age as we toured the "summer cottages" of the Vanderbilts and the Astors in Newport. Every day there was a new experience to savor and enjoy, but what did I like most about the cruise?--that's easy, I'd have to say it was the people.
Seating in the dining room was unassigned so my friend and I made a point of sitting with different folks at each meal, and I was so happy we did. Where else would I have encountered the delightful "honeymoon" couple, who had first met in junior high, married other people, then met again after 62 years and got married two months later. Or what about the lady who gave birth to a child with so many difficulties she was advised by her doctors to put him in an institution, but she kept him. And guess what?--he's now a Harvard professor. And could anything compare to the romantic story of the beautiful woman, a Holocaust survivor, who came to this country alone and friendless as a child, and met her future husband when she stepped on his raincoat by mistake in a train? Well I could go on and on, but I guess you get the idea. The cruise was a wonderful experience which recharged all my batteries, and I'm looking forward to doing it again, God willing.