OK, let's say you've already bought Mom her Mother's Day card, but you still can't find the perfect gift. You want to do something extra-special, but you've just been so darn busy! Why not just take that card and add this simple little message, "Mom, we're going on a cruise!" CruiseMates' staff shares its memories and recommendations.
BARGE THROUGH FRANCE by Anne Campbell My mother died suddenly two months after I began my first job, at Cunard Line. I had planned to take her on a transatlantic crossing aboard the glamorous Queen Elizabeth 2 so we could visit Europe together, but we never got the opportunity. Nevertheless, so many times I've fantasized about all the wonderful places we would have visited together. Sometimes I can almost feel her next to me as I gaze at spectacular scenery, stroll down quaint European streets and stare off into the sea from the deck of a ship. I picture a leisurely barge trip through France, visiting beautiful chateaux and small quaint villages. Life aboard a barge is slow and mellow, with only a handful of fellow passengers. The wine and gourmet food, prepared by the owner of the barge, and the camaraderie quickly established with other passengers keeps everyone lingering for hours each night over dinner. Her great love was art, history and culture, so the trip wouldn't be complete without a second week in Paris, strolling the historic streets, hours spent in museums topped off at a colorful bistro before turning in at our quaint hotel.
DELTA QUEEN STEAMBOAT COMPANY by Paul Motter In addition to seeing new and exciting places, my mom loves meeting new people, so I took her on a cruise that she'll never forget -- Delta Queen's Mississippi River cruises leaving out of New Orleans. The Delta Queen is an elegant, paddle-wheeled piece of American history small and cozy enough that meeting people couldn't be easier. We spent countless hours in the Texas Lounge playing cards with our newly found friends as we cruised past the historic sites of the Southern Mississippi River.
Mom was enthralled by the Pete Fountain Dixieland Band stage show, and she was in heaven during the shore excursion to the authentic Southern plantation where we saw 19th Century furniture and antiques in pristine condition. When the tour guide revealed that he was not only the guide for the sprawling property, but also the owner, Mom teased him by saying she knew it all along. A final day of sight-seeing in the French Quarter with a meal at one of "N'arlens'" finest Cajun restaurants was the perfect capper for this unforgettable experience.
PAUL UPDATES: this article is a repeat, but the sentiment is still the same. I still recall Delta Queen as the best cruise my mom had. She is too old to cruise now, and the Delta Queen is currently out of service (see news), but it is a fine a vessel and one that all Americans should treasure.
EXPLORER OF THE SEAS by Donna Nye I'd take my mom on the Explorer of the Seas, in a heart beat, she'd love it. Although if we could of gone like 20 years ago, she would of been more able to take advantage of all the activities that this ship has to offer. Some of the best jazz musicians play in various clubs on board and she would love listening to that after a full day on board or on one of the many ports of call. Also had the opportunity to see the Royal Family suite on Explorer and we could have the entire family go and travel in style. These cabins are awesome, at the aft of the ship, with huge balconies, could easily hold the family.
I know mom would totally love all the pampering you get with a cruise and this one is no exception, dinning room, cabin attendants, entire crew goes out of their way to make your cruise enjoyable and my mom would sure love this aspect of cruising on Explorer, among all the menu selections each evening in the dinning room. She's very easy to please when food comes into the picture and not having to cook, clean, etc is a major plus with my mom, I think I got that from her :-)
I also think this itinary would suit my mom to a tee, she's a sun worshiper and there was plenty. One of the stops is Labadee which is a lovely way to spent a day, do all or nothing, and of course eat, what else could you want? A trip over to Meagan's bay in St. Thomas would also please her, beautiful beach, nice warm calm water, just what she needs and craves for. A visit to the forts in San Juan to get a little feel of history is always a nice thing to do there too. This trip fits the bill as far as my mom is concerned and its a great trip for the whole family, which makes this ship a great treat for any mom for that matter. Just got back, but would certainly love to take my mom again anytime.
DONNA UPDATES: The latest Royal Caribbean ship is the Freedom-class. I still like the Explorer, which is from the Voyager-class, but the Freedom (and sister ship Liberty of the Seas) are now the cat's pajamas.
CELEBRITY MILLENNIUM by Linda Pearl If I had the luxury of still having my Mother with me I would have to coax her... but I would take her on a cruise to the Mediterranean that had several ports in France. My Mother was born in Quebec, and then moved to Jaffrey New Hampshire which was primarily settled by French Canadian. She loved the French language and I know she would have loved to hear it spoken in her mother country. She was a very soft spoken lady and i think the Celebrity Millenium would have been a perfect choice for her with its fine food and entertainment.The ports of Monte Carlo, maybe trip to Ez, would all go down in her memory book as a love story with the land and the people she had a link to. Ah....if only words could make it so.
CELEBRITY INFINITY by Mary Lou Scanlon I am not fortunate enough to still have my mom with me. She died when I was just 12 years old. One of my lasting memories of my wonderful mother is that she always wanted to go to Hawaii. Oh how I wish she were here today so I could take her to Hawaii on Celebrity's Infinity (of course it would be Celebrity, everyone knows I love Celebrity). I can just see her standing there seeing that ship for the first time. Then actually seeing the wonderful Hawaiian Islands .she would have absolutely loved that.
I think it is because of my mom that I began cruising .at least subconsciously. I say that because since she never had the opportunity to cruise or to go to Hawaii. I have adopted the theory that "Life is too short, so enjoy, enjoy, enjoy". I know too well that tomorrow may never come so don't put off doing what you want to do or seeing what you want to see in this world. I'm just sorry my mom couldn't do that.
EDITOR UPDATE: Celebrity Millennium and Infinity are both still with us, currently cruising in Alaska.
WHY MOMS LOVE TO CRUISE by Luisa Frey Gaynor With approximately 40 family trips under our belt, our ten family cruises continue to be our favored style of travel with our seven-year-old-daughter Alexandra. As a mother, I relish being able to visit many different destinations yet I only have to pack and unpack once. Let's face it, no matter how helpful a husband may be, packing usually falls under mom's list of family responsibilities. When we travel by land, I usually do all the pre-trip planning, which in some cases can be quite extensive. But when we cruise, I don't have to research hotels and restaurants but instead spend time getting information on our ports of call so that we do something that will satisfy the whole family.
Another aspect of cruising that moms enjoy are the state-of-the-art spas. While I rarely indulge in a spa treatment when we travel by land, it is understood that I get to treat myself to a massage during each cruise. What mother doesn't desperately need a little pampering?
As a mother, I enjoy the quality family time that cruising affords us especially on sea days. It's so rare that we get to spend a day doing fun activities with our daughter. When Alexandra is involved in the youth program, John and I also value the precious time we get to ourselves.
Even though I'm a world traveler, I still do enjoy the security of traveling by cruise ship. As Alexandra gets older, I know that cruise ships provide a safe environment in which I will feel comfortable allowing her to exert her independence. I also value the freedom that a cruise ship provides my husband and me when it is bed time for Alexandra. While we have spent many a night with lights out at 8:30 p.m. in motel rooms in the middle of nowhere, when we cruise John and I take turns getting Alexandra to bed so that the other one can enjoy sampling the night life. I feel perfectly comfortable doing this aboard a cruise ship yet I never had the courage to visit the local bars -- which were often the only night life on our South West road trips -- by myself.
With all the great family programs and kids' facilities at sea today, my daughter has thoroughly enjoyed all our cruises. And with the extensive work out equipment on most ships, my husband looks forward to getting free time to exercise when at sea. As for me, I'm perfectly happy curling up with a good book on a lounge chair and listening to the sound of the water meeting the ship's hull. As the saying goes ."When Momma's happy, everyone's happy!" Enjoy your next family cruise!
SILVERSEAS SILVER WIND by Ted Scull When my mother took her two sons to Europe many moons ago, she took to Italy like a focaccia takes to pure Sicilian olive oil. She hated to cook, and did not have to at home, except on Thursdays, and it was always Italian - homemade canoli, cannelloni, and pasta primavera. She always wanted to sail from Venice, so the choice is a piece of tiramisu, and there just happens to be the perfect vaporette departing in the month of May.
The Silver Wind with its Italian officers, maitres d'hotel, and lots of whimsical Italian decor and Murano glass fixtures sails on May 23 (2008) from London to Honfleur, France close to the beaches of Normandy. It goes on to Antwerp Belgium, through the Kiel Cnal of Germany and into the Baltic Sea to visit Copenhagen, Rostok (portway to Berlin) Germany, Ronne Denmark and on to Stockholm.
Aboard ship, she will be fussed over and won't have to spend a Euro, because Silversea is all-inclusive. I wonder if the Silversea experience will be a toga party. Maybe I should find out, because it's been exactly 40 years since mother took her two sons to Europe aboard the old Saturnia.
USS MARINE FALCON by Mike Mastell I was thinking of how great it would be to cruise with my mom on Mother's Day. I know she would love the ship, eating the delicious food, playing the slot machines in the casino and watching the production shows. She loves to meet people and can talk your ear off if you give her a chance.
Her only cruise was on the USS Marine Falcon in March of 1947. It was a ten day transatlantic cruise with all sea days. The ship was a United States Army, Liberty ship. She was like thousands of other English women who fell in love and married American soldiers during WWII. From her descriptions of the voyage I don't think it was quite the same as a cruise on today's vessels. She sailed on the Liberty Ship's version of a Single Supplement. Six women in one cabin with six infants, all less than eighteen months old. The cabins were about one hundred twenty square feet with six bunks. The infants slept with their mothers. The bathroom was down the passage and shared by about 20 people. The food was not gourmet quality. Mostly soup's, stews and many dishes that were a mystery to most of the women. The dining was cafeteria style and the tables all were equipped with garbage cans at each end to catch the trays and plates that slid back and forth with the pitching of the ship. Many a meal was lost in the garbage can when someone wasn't quick enough to grab a moving plate before it was too late.
There was a technique to sleeping that everyone learned. You would put your baby on the inside of the bed, between yourself and the wall. Then you would hook your feet in the rungs at the bottom of the bunk. If you didn't you would end up on the floor due to the rough ride of the ship. Quite a few women ended up with some abrasions and even a few broken bones if they didn't learn the trick quick enough.
Entertainment consisted of taking care of children, singing pub songs with your cabin mates and reading something from the ship's library. Western novels and comic books were the selections.
This was an experience that she remembers fondly but never had an inclination to do it again. It was just the start of her adventure. Her final destination was a farm in Osakis, Minnesota. She had never seen a cow, pig or horse up close before but was soon milking, feeding and hitching them up on her own. She lived on the farm for twenty years until my father was severely injured and could no longer work the farm. At that point we moved to the city. She went back to school and received her degree at age 46 and supported the family as a Dietician for the next 20 years.
In the last five years she has lived with my wife and myself. Last year she had a severe stroke and doesn't walk too well and has very limited use of her left side. Mentally she still is as feisty as ever. She has to hear everything about our cruises. What we ate, who we met, what we saw. I would love to take her with us and show her that sea travel is much better than it was 54 years ago. Alas travel is not possible anymore. I do wish I had discovered cruising earlier so she could join us. However I do want to thank her for being a fantastic mom and courageous woman who raised five good kids and made sacrifices that I will never know to give me the life I have now. Not even a world cruise on Seabourne would be adequate thanks for that.
HOLLAND AMERICA VEENDAM by Michael Sinn My Mom Felt Like a Queen for a Week.
My mom, Sandy, has always given her time and service to her children, family and friends. She never looks for anything in return. After getting into the cruise business I decided to take mom on her dream cruise. I picked Holland America Veendam and the Eastern Caribbean. I liked the ship's size and just 1200 guests. I had read excellent reviews about Holland America, its service and staterooms. It caters to people my mom's age, 50's-60's. It truly lived up to expectations.
After we boarded Veendam the crew made my mom feel like a Queen for a Week. Many of the service people called her "Mom." She loved it. She was not used to being served. I also thought I would have to entertain her for the week. Was I wrong! I didn't see much of her except for meals. She would say, "Got to scoot. I have some things to do and see!" I have to laugh because I actually had to make an appointment with her for anything else, since she was so busy doing "other things!" Can you believe it, she even modeled in the fashion show!!! All this from someone who never thinks of herself first. This cruise changed her. She keeps asking when are we going again!
ED: Holland American now has newer classes of ships, the Vista class, and will be introducing the new Eurodam soon, but the Veendam and the other S-class Holland America Ships are smaller and quieter and perfect for the elderly.