Enjoying the Cruising Life in the Western Caribbean

The first cruise that my wife and I took was to the Western Caribbean on the Carnival Tropicale out of New Orleans. After flying to the city and spending a night in one of our favorite French Quarter hotels, we were anxious to get to the ship the next day. Like typical cruise novices, we had no idea what to expect. We over-packed and struggled to get the bags to the pier and waiting porters. After dropping off the luggage, we staggered through the embarkation processing like deer in a headlight — waiting for someone to tell us where to go and what to do next. Once onboard, we were like kids in a candy store. We were awed by the glitzy decor, entranced by the festive nature of the environment, and excited for the ship to get underway. After hitting the buffet restaurant, we wandered the ship, exploring likes the adventurers we pictured ourselves to be. Once we got into our cabin, we quickly unpacked and then headed up to the Lido deck pool area. There we found an animated band playing contagious reggae music while crew members hawked their colorful, fancy drinks with little straws and umbrellas. People were splashing in the pool or dancing. We joined right in and knew we were hooked.

Neither of us had ever been to the Bahamas or Mexico, so we looked forward to the experience. We were not disappointed. The fun of experiencing other people and new cultures was like adrenaline to me, since I taught diversity at Webster University and had written about the topic in several of my books. All of this made the trip worthwhile, but it was what happened at dinner on the first night that sealed the deal for us and made us realize that we were cruisers at heart. We met a wonderful couple from England and knew right away that we were destined to be lifelong friends. To this day, we take turns visiting each other and have made trips to Las Vegas and other locations together. Since that first cruise, we have experienced dozens of other countries and met hundreds of other terrific passengers with whom we have built friendships. We currently have eight more cruises booked for the next two years and see no chance of slowing down. Cruising is something that we feel that everyone should try at least once.

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