Written by Rick Archer
Marla told me she was thinking about scheduling our first-ever river cruise,
I thought she was reading my mind. I had recently
caught myself drooling with envy every time the Viking River Cruise
ad flashed on the TV screen.
I laughed when Marla admitted that ad had the
exact same effect on her.
With our first-ever River
Cruise scheduled to take place one year from now, I was curious to
learn about some of the differences between an ocean cruise and a
So I asked a friend who had
been on a river cruise before to explain the difference.
River Cruise to Russia
Rick's 2012 Ocean
Cruise to Russia
The Tale of Two Maps
chance, my friend Russell Orr had visited Russia last year about the same
time that Marla and I took our
Naturally every time I saw
Russell, I would
ask him about the river cruise he took to
Truth be told, as we compared notes, I found myself having a hard
time controlling my envy.
don't misunderstand. My cruise to Russia was an unforgettable
highlight tour. In particular, I loved Stockholm and I loved
Tallinn. It was a great trip.
what I really wanted to do was to see more of St. Petersburg. I
spent nine hours in St. Petersburg. Russell spent three days.
I spent no time in Moscow. Russell spent three days.
ocean cruise gives you a wonderful look at the Big Picture, but will
frustrate you if there's a place you prefer to concentrate on.
A river cruise allows a person the luxury to focus directly on a
evening I asked Russell to talk about what it is like to be on one
of the long boats they use on the river. Russell's eyes lit
up like Christmas candles. I could see
the delight in his big smile.
Russell started his reply
by saying I could not even begin to imagine the joy of his trip.
Russell grinned as a memory flashed
across his mind and then he began to tell me a
story. I may get the details a little mixed up,
but here is the gist of it.
Russell said his favorite
a particular "enchanted evening"
spent dancing with his beautiful lady
Russell explained that the ship
had hired some Russian college students
during the summer to help run the show.
This was a great way for the young people to pay
for their education.
Russell said he had no idea "Russians" could be so friendly.
concluded that unlike the dour old-timers who still bear the
scars of the Communist era, the young actually know how to laugh and
Russell said among the
enthusiastic college kids were two musicians who played every
instrument under the sun.
Each night the
duo would play their music
and each night Russell and Pat would get out and dance under the
stars. Russell added they were the only guests who actually danced.
Apparently there was a closed
circuit camera that was focused on the music area. This camera sent
a feed to every cabin so people could listen to the music in their
rooms if they wanted to.
Russell explained that the dance floor was situated right in front
of the musicians and their array of instruments. Apparently the camera's eye included
both the musicians and the dance floor as well.
One night as
Russell and Pat danced the night away, the camera caught their every
move… and neither of them had any idea they were putting on an
90 minute show for the
The next morning one
guest after another came by to thank them for providing such
wonderful entertainment! In fact, one guest
asked Russell if they were planning to do it again. They were
the hit of the cruise!
I am sure Russell and Pat were a little
embarrassed that their special moment was captured on
camera, but deep down I think they were tickled by the praise as
well. I asked Russell if the camera caught any smooching. He
grinned and blushed a little, then politely declined to answer.
I probably have no
business sharing such an intimate story, but it is so cute that I
could not help myself. 'Tis better to
share and ask forgiveness later!!
I have no doubt that
Russell and Pat made every guest on that ship wish they could dance
too. I always tell men they should learn the fine art of romantic
dancing. Chances like this river cruise come along too rarely in
life as it is. Why not make the moment perfect?
always say that Slow Dance and Romance go hand in hand.
Indeed, something pretty special happened on that river cruise. When
the couple returned to Houston, Russell asked her to marry him...
and Pat said yes.
A Very Select Group
From what I gather, the
river cruise adventure has many features that separate it from our
ocean experience. Just for starters, you are swapping
a massive ship
that carries anywhere from 3,000
to 6,000 passengers for a
slender ship that
carries a maximum of 190 very privileged
are comfortable with crowds and don't mind waiting in lines, then
trips on monster ships such as the one pictured might be fun.
However, I will confess that at my age I feel more at ease with the
like a small group. I get to see these
same people every day and I
have an entire week to get to know them. I might
even make a friend for life with an opportunity like this.
They say a cruise ship is
like a floating hotel. I say a river boat is closer to a floating
inn. Or maybe a very large yacht!
Another major difference between a river cruise and an ocean cruise
is the view.
ocean cruise, you spend countless hours staring out at the sea.
For people stuck in the city for most of their lives, this is a
welcome sight. That said, seeing the same vista day in and day
out grows old very quickly. You soon find yourself glancing at
the water from time to time, but that's about it.
river cruise, there is actually something to look at it.
through the most beautiful countryside imaginable.
You will gasp at one precious sight after another.
only can you dine out on deck, every cabin has a river
view. Be it forests and vineyards,
farms and chateaus,
there will be always be something new to capture your fascination.
No matter where you are on the long ship, you can just sit
there watching the world go by. Sip your
wine and enjoy one of the happiest moments of your life as
rolling hills and
the ever-present green countryside
across your eyes in an endless tableau
of pastoral beauty.
There are no days at sea
when you sail down the river. Each day
brings you to one
quaint town or precious little village after another.
Each day takes you to a new adventure.
Rhône River has served as the "Mississippi" of France for centuries.
Local farmers have used the river to transport their goods to market
for centuries. Furthermore, ships from all the Mediterranean
countries have long used its waters to trade with Northern France.
Consequently, there are existing docks at every town where our
longboat can pull up and drop you off instantly.
At each stop the
boat will dock
right in the center of the town.
It takes all of one minute to get
on or off the ship. You can stroll through the town in the morning,
come back to the ship for lunch, then head back out and explore some
more. You come and go as
you please. This is the right way to see the world!
Now compare that to the
tedious "tendering" process common to the large cruise ships.
other trip I have taken, there is at least
one port that requires a smaller boat known as a "tender" to ferry
If you are given seven
hours at a port, two of those hours are completely wasted.
example, we recently used a tender in Belize on our Mariner 2013
trip. Our ship was parked over a mile off shore. I
estimate we burned at least an hour and a half traveling back and
always use a tender at Cayman. The huge lines mean at least
one hour in each direction.
Tendering means you get
to wait in line for half an hour to get on the boat. Then you waste
another half hour getting there to the island.
Then you have to turn around
and do it again in the evening.
There is no time wasted
on a river cruise. You don't spend half your trip at sea
don't spend half your day on a tender.
In fact, if you wish, on a
river cruise you can be busier with sightseeing than practically any
trip you have ever taken.
No one is going to deny a
river cruise is expensive. As with any premium adventure, you have
to pay a price for the privilege of having a
truly wonderful experience.
2010, I visited the water park at Atlantis in the Bahamas for the
first time. On that visit, I
made a very unusual discovery.
to the trip, I blanched when Marla said tickets were $130 for a
day's visit. That would $260 for the two of us. "No
way", I said. But Marla showed me the pictures and persuaded
night before our cruise ship stopped in Nassau, I asked several of
the passengers if they were going to visit Atlantis. Every
person said the same thing. "Nah, it's way too expensive."
estimate only a dozen people out of 200 guests went there that day.
That's a shame because
Marla and I ended having the time of our lives.
The rides were incredible and there were hardly any lines. The
place was not crowded at all.
favorite ride was the Lazy River. We had so much fun, we
stayed in those tubes for nearly three hours. Marla and I were
alone 80% of the time. It was an incredible experience to have
this remarkable playground all to ourselves.
when it dawned on me. You get what you pay for. Pay low
prices, get big crowds. Pay big prices, have more fun.
On a river cruise, you save time, you meet truly interesting people,
and you see the world in perhaps the grandest way possible.
St. Augustine famously
said, "The world is a book, and those who do not travel read only
the years I ran my dance studio, I completely ignored the rest of
the world. Then Marla introduced me to travel. On each
trip I learned a new reason why people value travel so much.
first time I saw Rome, suddenly the history of the Roman Empire came
alive. When I saw Turkey, I began to think of Noah's Ark and
the possibility the
and the melting waters of the Ice Age could explain the myth of the
When I visited Scotland, I developed a superior
understanding of the struggle between the Scots and the English.
When I went on the Titanic Cruise, I got so deeply in touch with the
tragedy that I felt like I practically knew the people who died.
saw Barcelona, I discovered just how beautiful a city can be.
When I saw the Panama Canal, I was incredulous at the magnificence
of the engineering accomplishment. Travel helps me learn so
much about things I never knew before.
Another quote about travel I like is from Mark Twain. "Travel
is fatal to prejudice, bigotry and narrow mindedness... Travel helps
us discover we are a family after all."
visit other lands, I start to realize exactly what Twain meant.
Race, religion, ethnicity all begin to mean less. People all
want the same thing - peace, safety, health, prosperity. The
world becomes a much smaller place when you travel.
63 as I write this story. If you are anywhere near my age,
then you understand that time grows more precious every day.
People my age don't have a lot of time to waste any more.
waste time if you can afford not to??
Based on our Puritan
ethic, few of us allow ourselves the risk of high-priced luxury.
We have spent our entire lives denying ourselves the finer things in
life so we will have money at the end. But the cruelty of
aging is that despite our frugal ways, we have only a small ten year
window where we still have the health to see the world. Once our
health goes, travel will never be the same again.
is for living, not passively sitting at home waiting for the end.
Some of you
might agree we have reached the point in
life where we have earned the right to pamper ourselves.
say, there are no pockets in shrouds. You can't take it with
a river cruise is undeniably expensive, there are
savings in places we aren't accustomed to. There are
complimentary features that will certainly be appreciated.
example, there is complimentary wine served at every meal except
breakfast. You can have as many glasses of
wine as you wish (if you prefer
beer, soda or water, that is served free as well).
When Marla and I sailed
aboard the Azamara Journey for our Titanic cruise, the wine was
served throughout each meal.
Barriers fell quickly
thanks to the magic of the wine. Every night at dinner, the dining
room was animated with laughter and talk.
my favorite moments on that trip came when my brilliant
friend Bob and I talked deep into the night. Bob
was an expert on the Titanic. Thanks to our
wine-loosened tongues, Bob opened up. He told me
stories and angles I never knew before. I learned more about the Titanic that night than I ever
thought possible. Bob and I became friends for
life. I could see Bob again and restart the conversation in a
flash. There is something about wine that
helps get the party started.
A Cultural Experience
A river cruise differs
from an ocean cruise in that it gives you a fighting chance to
Don't get me wrong… I
like ocean cruises. But if there is one downside, it is the
superficial treatment that each port receives. A river cruise
differs from an ocean cruise in that it gives you
to walk around and learn.
Like my trip to
our Oslo 2010 cruise, there simply wasn't enough time to even begin
to see the city. We had five hours total to explore. By the time
we reached the Louvre, we didn't have enough time left to go in.
We just stared at the windows of the most famous museum in the world
as I screamed with anguish. This isn't right!! And then it was
time to head back to the bus.
river cruise wishes to educate its passengers about the region of
the trip. Therefore,
in addition to
on board, each day there are several small-group
sightseeing excursions at EVERY port. You don't pay a dime.
The ship wants you to participate in the learning experience, so
these visits are complimentary.
More than likely, you
will meet a cheerful, outgoing guide who
will escort you through
each new town. In addition to being quite knowledgeable
about the region, the guide will learn your name,
where you are from and maybe even
your favorite type of wine.
guide will quickly
assess your physical status and be able to give
advice on what
trips you can handle and what you might do if you need an
Best of all,
our guide will help immerse
us deeply into the culture of the region.
is steeped in all sorts of fascinating ancient history. At different times
the Franks, the Gauls, the Greeks,
the Romans, the Vandals, the Goths, and the Moors have fought countless battles for control of this
area we will visit was featured in Julius Caesar's Gallia, a
book where he told the story of his conquest of Gaul in 58 BC.
You will be amused that in my 8th Grade Latin class, I actually
translated some passages from Caesar's Gallia. Believe it or not,
I still have the book!
"Gallia est provincia magna in Europa.
Gallia est patria agricolarum. Puellae silvas Galliae
was from Chapter One. I bet you can translate it...
"Gaul is a large province in Europe.
Gaul is farmland. Gaul has beautiful trees."
of Caesar's battles were fought right along the Rhône River.
For that matter, his greatest victory, the Battle of Alesia,
was fought just a few miles north of Chalon where our trip ends.
Avignon, one of our stops, was once the most powerful city in
Southern France. Avignon owes much of its importance to
Caesar. After Caesar conquered it, he made the town his
favorite outpost. Avignon was important because the Rhône was
the route taken by Mediterranean sailors wishing to trade with
Northern Europe. Control of the Rhône was vital to the
conquest of the entire region.
Caesar vanquished this city, he ordered an elaborate defense system
Why bother winning it if you aren't going to keep
Today Avignon features some of the best preserved
ramparts (defensive walls) in France.
Here is a picture of the
Roman ruins in Avignon, France. These are some of the walls built to
defend the city.
We will get two chances
to visit these Roman ruins.
We will have the entire
afternoon of our first day to explore Avignon.
Then on Day Three of our
trip, we will visit Avignon again. On one of these days, we
will surely visit this amazing site.
Avignon has much more to
offer. For example, Avignon is called "The City of Popes".
Indeed, there is an amazing castle known as the
Most of us assume that
Italy has always had the most influence with the Catholic Church.
Not so. At one point, the French held sway. In 1305, a
deadlocked conclave finally elected Clement V, a Frenchman, as Pope.
Clement preferred to
remain in France, so he declined to move to Rome. In 1309 Clement
moved his court to the papal enclave at Avignon. It would remain
here for the next 67 years. This absence from Rome is sometimes
referred to as the "Babylonian Captivity".
A total of seven popes
reigned at Avignon; all were French, and they each increasingly fell
under the influence of the French Crown.
Finally, in 1376, new
Pope Gregory XI abandoned Avignon and moved his court back to Rome.
The Avignon Papacy was over.
Besides the castle, there's the
mysterious "Bridge to Nowhere". The reason the
incomplete is pretty amusing.
centuries, erosion has damaged the bridge. At this point, the
remaining part of the bridge has been restored, but now it is too
low for a river boat to go under... so rather than raise the bridge, they found it easier
to leave the job undone.
Tourism is more valuable to the
city than have a complete bridge. So many people are amused by
the unfinished bridge that it has become the international symbol of
You didn't know any of
this, did you? Neither did I. Travel is a dynamic form
I have been on 27 cruise
trips so far. Only twice have I been on a trip that attempted to teach me something
about where I was going. Both trips occurred last year.
The first was our visit to the
Canal. The other experience
cruise that sailed to the spot where the Titanic sank.
Other than those two
trips, there has never
been any attempt whatsoever to educate the
passengers on the history and the culture of the places we visit.
Why cut into valuable bingo time?
That will change
dramatically on this river cruise.
Our trip through southern France promises to
offer one history lesson after another. We have already
Arles is a quaint village that became the home of
Vincent Van Gogh for about a year and a half towards the end of his
deeply disturbed man, Van Gogh began a steady descent into madness
during his time here. And yet remarkably, Van Gogh was very
prolific in his artwork. During our visit to Arles, you
could easily learn more about Vincent Van Gogh than you ever
imagined... or maybe even wanted to know.
For example, you will discover this is the town
where he cut off his own ear.
France - A World Leader in Art, Science,
Fashion and Culture
France has long been
Europe's epicenter of art, science, philosophy,
fashion and culture.
trip is so different that you
will have the chance to actually meet the French people in a way
that allows for the exchange of ideas and politics.
You won't have a tour
guide that you see today for the only time in your life. You will
actually get to know your guide on a personal basis. If you ask the right
questions, you may learn about France and its people in a way that
will far transcend any documentary or book you might read.
There have been rumors
over the years of animosity between the French and the Americans.
We have heard about French rudeness and disdain for our
As a result, we make fun
of the French. For example, 'Q: Why don't they have fireworks at
Euro Disney? A: Because every time they shoot them off, the French
try to surrender.'
Yes, it's true that the
USA saved France in both World War I and World War II. Good for
us! But please do not forget that America might not even exist
were it not for France.
France's intervention into the Revolutionary War that proved to be
the turning point. Without France, we might be the 50 Colonies
today and the Atlantic might still be known as "The Pond".
And I would like to add
that Omaha Beach of D-Day fame is practically hallowed ground to the
French. There is a sign at the national cemetery that says:
"This ground is
dedicated in perpetuity to the people of the United States of
America for the sacrifice its brave and noble fighting men gave to
There are 10,000 graves
at that cemetery. It is a very moving sight indeed.
I cannot even look at this picture without tears welling up. I
wish to add the French
consider it an honor and a sacred duty to guard and protect this
every year French citizens in the Normandy area come out to
celebrate D-Day with American flags, parades and a huge outpouring
of gratitude. Americans are absolute heroes to these people.
To this day, there are people in
this area who witnessed the American bravery first-hand.
They watched in horror as young soldiers died
trying to liberate them. They wept as helpless soldiers were shot
down in their parachutes.
They peeked through their windows to see
brave men die in door to door fighting at St. Lo and Caen.
They even helped bury
the countless young men who died facing
deadly machine guns on the nearby beach
is no 'French rudeness' in Normandy, only gratitude.
These people remember
what happened like it was yesterday. They saw people they had never
met before who sacrificed their lives to save them from Nazi
Their attitude is eternal:
We will never forget America.
This rumor about French
rudeness is a myth. Sure, if a tourist
behaves poorly, naturally they
can expect to be treated in kind. But that is the exception. In
this world of crazy senseless terrorism, France is thrilled to have
our friendship. France is one of America's truest allies.
I have visited France
twice. Wherever I have gone, Marla and I
have been treated with warmth and respect. All
I had to do
was wear a smile and I received
the kind of welcome accorded to a trusted friend
Both times I found myself utterly charmed by
and culture. I welcome the opportunity to learn more about this
There are other pleasant
surprises about this trip that might not have
occurred to you.
For example, there is no
such thing as "seasickness" on a long boat. The rivers are wide and
smooth. There is no such thing as waves and rapids. The ship
simply glides through the calm waters. If anything, the sailing has
less vibration than your average bus ride.
might read my story and conclude that I am knocking ocean cruises. There
is an old saying, "Don't bite the hand that feeds you".
I am not disrespecting ocean cruises. As Marla constantly points out, an ocean
cruise is an extremely safe and cost-effective way to see the world.
are times when an ocean cruise makes complete sense. For
example, a cruise is the perfect way to see the islands of Hawaii.
Ordinarily, to see all the islands of Hawaii would require daily
transfers from island to island and new hotels every night.
There would be considered time wasted.
cruise ship is basically a floating hotel, it is perfect for Hawaii.
Likewise for Alaska and the United Kingdom. Using the water is
a very efficient way to visit these areas.
other hand, there are places that are inaccessible by sea that can
be reached by river. Europe is the perfect example.
a river cruise is simply a more surgical form of an ocean cruise. For example, a
cruise ship might be able to go through the Panama Canal, but only a
longboat can sail the Rhine, the Danube and the Volga - and the
Rhone and the Seine of France.
Suddenly areas in Germany, Switzerland, Austria, and Hungary become
accessible to one of the most comfortable forms of transportation
imaginable. Who ever thought a cruise trip could take you to
the Alps? Castles and mountains and forests are magically
placed right at your fingertips.
A river cruise allows you
far more time to
explore a city or a town than you can ever
imagine. You have all morning and
all afternoon to tour the place. Your day can begin as
early as 6 am if you actually have the strength to get up
at that hour.
something else you may not have considered. Have you ever
thought of using a bike to expand your reach? Marla and I have
tried bicycles in several places. For example, we have used
bikes to explore Key West and Martha's Vineyard. Usually the
drawback is time. We wanted to use bikes in Maine's Acadia
National Park, but the stupid ship wasted so much of our time with
tendering that we had to scrap our plans.
on a river cruise. As we discovered in Key West, a bicycle is the
perfect way to explore a small town. Since the boat drops you
into the center of town, you can rent a bicycle in the plaza
and off you go. Imagine all the ground
you will cover. You can ride through
the streets of each village as far as your body will let you. Then when you get hungry,
head back to town,
drop the bike off right in front of the ship and hop back onboard.
How could that possibly be easier?
Better yet, you have the
I suppose it does get
dark once in a while. Actually, now that I think of it, maybe even
once a day.
ocean cruise, I don't even think about a port at night.
On a cruise ship,
typically you need to get back on board at 4 pm so the ship can sail
hundreds of miles to the next port.
Or perhaps we get back on
board early so the gambling casinos can begin to operate again.
Many times I have wished I could have dinner in town
at night and go to a nightclub
A good example would
have been St. Petersburg on our 2012 cruise to Russia.
My word, here we were six thousand miles from
home. How cool would it be to have dinner with Marla and our
friends in this amazing historic city? Let's see what Russian food
tastes like and see what Russian nightlife looks like.
However that never happened. At 4 pm we were
hurriedly whisked back on board the cruise ship. Poof!
It was here and now it is gone. One
brief taste of the city and we had to leave.
Wouldn't it have been nice to see a performance of the Russian
Ballet? On a river cruise, that's something you can actually
in France we might take in a show
somewhere in town. Why not see the fabulous
French Can Can in person??
A river cruise is totally different. There is
no gambling, so the ship has no reason to rush you back on board.
Furthermore, the ship typically sails in the wee hours of the morning. After
all, the next stop is just down the river. The entire length of the
trip is only about 200 miles from start to finish. It is 124 miles
from Avignon to Lyon. It is 70 miles from Lyon to Chalon.
That averages out to
about 30 miles per night. Each night while we sleep, the staff
simply gets out their oars.
They sing 'row, row, row your boat
gently down the stream' in French as they merrily paddle away. Be careful not
to join in the singing… they might hand you a paddle.
The consequence of these
short distances is startling. Most evenings, the long ship stays
docked right at the pier so you can get off the ship at night and
have yet another adventure.
How about sipping some wine at a
sidewalk café with friends?
Imagine sitting there
under the stars with a breeze during a blissful April evening.
Maybe they will play French music while we sit. Will be the sad "La
Vie En Rose" sung by Edith Piaf?
Or will it be "La Marsellaise",
the French national song made famous in Casablanca
when the French loyalists defied the Nazi occupiers by singing over
the voices of the Germans?
Or perhaps you might just spend your
evening strolling around ancient Roman
fountain under the moonlight in the town plaza.
It doesn't get any better than this.
Even the caliber of the
crew is different. As Russell explained to me, there is a warmth
and savoir faire to the college educated crew that transcends what
you might be used to on an ocean cruise.
At the max, the ship holds
190 guests. With a staff of 45 people, that creates a startling
ratio of one staff person to four guests. As a result, almost all
the crew learn your name, not just the waiter and the room
attendant. For that matter, maybe you will learn
some of their names too!
advantages to this sort of intimacy. Each waiter and each bar
person will know what beverage you
desire before your lips
even move. All you have to do is whistle. Or use sign language if
you are too exhausted by all the fun to speak. I recommend
pointing, the Universal language.
If you don't want to go
into town, there is entertainment on board every evening.
there is a dance floor. No, it isn't large, so yes, you better
brush up on your small floor ballroom dancing. I
definitely suggest you take a
refresher course on slow dancing. Incidentally, I happen to
know someone who is an expert at teaching small floor dancing in case you
need a few tips.
There is another
difference that might completely take you off guard. For example, I
was startled when Marla said there is no "Formal Night". Huh? I
didn't believe her, so I asked again. Marla shook her head with
confidence. She was sure of what she was talking about. No Formal
Night! What part of "NO" don't you get, Rick?
Marla said that on
a river cruise, comfort rules over style. The ship
deliberately cultivates a relaxed, resort-casual onboard atmosphere
- leave the formal wear at home.
I find that very
curious. If there is any place on earth where people collect who
can probably afford to look prosperous, I would guess it is on board
one of these long ships. And yet they de-emphasize the chance to
show off. Very interesting.
I suppose you can always
cheat if you want to. If you want to look really good, go for it.
They probably won't tell you to go back to your room and wear
something less flattering.
That said, be careful.
Don't overdo it. It's like a nudist colony… you're either in or
you're out. If I ain't looking good, then you better not be looking
good either. If anyone makes me look bad by over-dressing, I
promise to expose your fashion cruelty to the world through bad
photographs and snide comments.
Trust me, after I get through
doctoring your photo, you won't be smiling. Plus I will make you
look fat. That's a promise. Think Jabba the Pizza Hut.
Speaking of pictures,
another thing you might find unusual is that no photographers will
interrupt your meal. No more quick gulps of food so you can force
the fake smile.
Another thing you will
surely miss are dancing waiters and loudspeaker announcements at
dinner. This absence worries me a great deal. Gosh, what we will
do? Without constant interruptions, we could be forced to develop
the long lost skills of witty dinnertime repartee.
How foreign is that? I
might have to practice ahead of time.
Speaking of the lost art
of communication, this trip promises to give people an
extended chance to get to get acquainted
on a much deeper level.
there is something to be said for the hot tub experience, I don't
think "deep conversation" is one of them. But if you are wandering
side by side through the streets of Lyon at night, you might
actually open up a little and bare your soul.
While we were on our
recent Mariner 2013 cruise, at dinner someone asked Marla what was
her favorite cruise. Her answer surprised me. She said, "Our river
cruise in 2014."
I immediately chided
her. "Marla, you can't pick a trip you have
never been on as
Marla responded in
typical Marla fashion, "Don't tell me what to think. This trip is
something I have dreamed about for a long time. I love everything
there is about this trip. If I say it is my favorite, then just
take what I say and accept it."
At this juncture, Marla
has already sold fifteen cabins
and has several inquiries to follow up on.
That is an amazing total when one realizes that Marla's group
promises to be somewhere between 16% to 25% of the entire passenger
this impressive number is a validation of Marla's work. This
is an expensive trip, no doubt. Therefore to have so many
people show this kind of confidence is quite an honor.
one thing I can promise is that
we will be a family.
You can count on that.
Marla and I had this
exact experience on the
2012 trip to Russia.
all shared so much warmth and laughter traveling together.
In Denmark, we stayed at the same hotel. It
was there that the girls surrounded Marla with reassurance during my
bizarre passport dilemma (yes, I actually lost my
shared meals and went strolling through the magical Tivoli Gardens
together. In Finland, we shared lunch in the cellar of an intimate
countryside inn. In St. Petersburg, we drank vodka together in a
huge Russian dining hall. In Estonia, we drank
in a dark candlelit German biergarten.
We grew close. We had an
entire journey filled with special moments like these. We banded
together and became best friends in foreign lands.
Marla and I agreed the
friendship is what made the cruise to Russia special. That will
happen again on our river cruise. We will be side by side packing a
lifetime of memories into this journey. An ocean cruise is still a
wonderful way to develop friendships, but the river cruise
experience takes it to another level. This trip promises to be a
sublime experience indeed.