Sponsored by:

Comment, blog & share photos

Log in | Become a member
The Honolulu Advertiser
Posted on: Sunday, May 11, 2003

Vacation at sea time to feel good about doing nothing

 •  Norwegian Star diary: 'Bonnie, this hotel is moving!'

By Wanda A. Adams
Advertiser Travel Editor

My first and only ocean cruise experience came when I was 3 years old — and it was more a passage than an excursion. It was aboard the Lurline in 1954; my parents and I were returning home from a short period of living on the Mainland. My only clear memory is of my mother lying on a bunk groaning; that was before stabilizing systems all but banished seasickness aboard passenger ships.

The Norwegian Star embarks today for a trip around the Islands and to Fanning Island in Kiribati, far to the south. Advertiser readers will be able to follow the voyage online with Travel Editor Wanda Adams.

Norwegian Cruise Line

Those who have been there say you it's worth the money to get a stateroom with a lanai; the views and privacy pay for themselves.

Norwegian Cruise Line

This afternoon, I will board the Norwegian Star for a trip around the Islands and down to Fanning Island in Kiribati, eager to create new — and presumably much more pleasant — cruise memories.

As a newbie, I probably should have followed the lead of my traveling partner, who spent hours online looking up info on the restaurants, the onshore excursions, the activities and the spa aboard the Norwegian Star. But I've been too busy to think about this trip until the time came to pull my suitcases out of the closet.

As you read this Sunday morning, I'm almost certainly standing in my bedroom surrounded by stacks of clothing wondering what, exactly, in my wardrobe qualifies as cruise wear. (Nothing, I suspect, but the Norwegian Cruise Lines Web site, www.ncl.com, says resort casual is acceptable, and that I can do.)

Although I have little experience with ocean cruising, I do hold strong convictions about what would make a true "bon voyage" for me. These convictions are based on a trip I took on England's Thames River some years ago, and on my observation that, for too many Americans, vacations have become not getaways or times of rest but just another way to be overbusy and overavailable.

• Check back tomorrow to read Wanda Adams' online diary.
The Thames cruise, aboard a converted Dutch barge called Actief, stands out as the best holiday experience of my life: four days of motoring up the river from Richmond to north of Windsor, never achieving a speed more rapid than five knots, tying up each night along grassy meadows (it was not unusual to wake in the morning to a cow's curious face peering through the porthole). We ate simple but exquisite meals, took short walks along the towpath and rambles through Thames-side villages. Each evening after dinner, the 12 or so people took turns reading aloud to each other from Jerome K. Jerome's "Three Men in a Boat," about a much more rustic Thames excursion. I came away rested and content, with dozens of slides to aid my memory of that exceptional time.

While I understand that a cruise shared with hundreds of passengers is unlikely to have quite the same feeling, I am looking forward to the rest I always find when I'm staring out across the ocean and to seeing our islands from a different perspective.

I'll remember a lesson I borrowed from my mother, who went on an Alaska cruise and signed up for every possible offshore excursion, arriving home exhausted. I'll visit Fanning Island, but I'm not sure I'll get off the boat otherwise, since I'm already familiar with most of the destinations offered during onshore tours.

Although both satellite telephone and e-mail are available aboard ship, I am determined to pretend (except when I'm e-mailing my daily update) that I'm totally out of touch with the world. And despite the daunting menu of lectures and lessons, activities and events that Norwegian Cruise Lines offers, I am stubbornly sticking to the idea that a cruise is the one form of vacation during which doing nothing is totally acceptable.

My traveling companion, Bonnie Judd (standing in for my husband, who has his own out-of-town trip to take), wants to do just about everything that's offered.

Me? I went online long enough to discover that our stateroom has its own little lanai, and all my plans are pinned firmly on the deck chair on the right.