Dave Seminara

In praise of cruise holidays

We've just spent 12 days on a floating United Nations

  • From Spectator Life

While many travel addicts went into hibernation during the pandemic, as public health scolds around the world turned our joyful compulsion into a sin, I kept roving despite the hassles. On an Easter Week trip to the Dominican Republic in 2021, I watched police battalions forcibly remove masked people from the streets of Santo Domingo at the 8 p.m. curfew. I spent a fortune on Covid tests for visits to Germany, Azerbaijan, Ecuador, Brazil, Argentina, Uruguay and various Caribbean ports. And I was badgered about wearing masks, even outdoors, on three continents.

During Covid, the cost of car rentals soared, airlines found ways to make flying even less pleasant than it already was, and hotels cut corners – eliminating free breakfasts, in-room coffee, daily housekeeping and other perks, all under the illusory guise of public safety. Service suffered too, as travel industry employers struggled to find quality staff at a time of government largesse and as tensions over mask use and other issues boiled over. Many of these pandemic problems remain in play on land – but not, as I just found out, at sea.

I’ve just returned from the first trip since the start of the pandemic where I felt free to enjoy the experience, and it seemed like a throwback to a bygone era when travel was more pleasure than travail. I took an 11-night voyage with my family on the Celebrity Edge cruise ship to Cartagena, the Panama Canal and the ABC islands (Aruba, Bonaire and Curaçao). It was pure bliss. Unlike when we cruised last year, this time there was no testing requirement (for the vaccinated), no mask requirements, no onerous rules, no guilt and the sort of remarkable service I haven’t experienced in a very long time.

In 1995, David Foster Wallace wrote a hilarious essay for Harper’s on the ‘nearly lethal pleasures’ of a Celebrity cruise he took.

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