I think I'm more or less Kuki's age and I haven't been on my first cruise, yet. However, I have a four overnight boat/ship passages in my experience. I'll get back to those in a moment.
Twenty years before "Love Boat," there was the "Gale Storm Show, Oh Susannah." Gale
Storm is an Actress/Songstress. She played Susannah Pomeroy CD of the Ocean Queen through six years of TV production, and several in syndication. The Ocean Queen steamed everywhere: Scandanavia, Caribbean, South Pacific. Wherever the ship steamed, Susannah, the Chief Steward (Cedric) and the ship's hairdresser (Elvira Nugent) never failed to find new and improved ways to get Captain Huxley steamed.
I think "Love Boat" was a mix of it and "Love American Style."
A good portion of my childhood was spent watching that and other ocean themed movies and TV shows. I also read anything and everyhting having to do with the sea and with sea travel. And I remember watching news coverage of the sinking of the Andrea Doria. Since I lived in humble circumstances 350 miles from the nearest saltwater, the sea and ships were the stuff of adventures that just didn't apply to me.
They were remote, utopian, and almost mythical. It wasn't until an older sister, married and moved to Newport News that there was an economically justifiable reason to visit the coast. A side trip to VB
resulted in my first ever view of the Atlantic. I was sixteen at the time.
Now about my passages...In college, I participated in a study-tour of Europe. That trip included four overnights aboard ferries and packets. The first and second trips were fairly uneventful, unless you include getting paced by Albanian gunboats along the Eastern shore of the Adriatic. The third trip from, Mallorca to Ibiza, is memorable because of the overnight accomodations.
I don't remember which class of passage we bought on the third trip. I remember that it only included a bunk, in a hospital type ward. The bunks were stacked 3 high by 10 of such steel racks in the cabin. Luggage shared the sleeping space with the passenger. And each bunk included its own big, brass, mouthtray mounted on a special bracket at the head of the bunk. I was one of the lucky ones--I got an upper bunk. It was a rainy, noisy, smelly crossing. I guess I have a strong stomach since I never had occasion to use the brass bowl.
The fourth overnight, from Ibiza to Valencia, provided the most adventursome crossing. A powerful storm blew over us, the kind only read about in "Acts," a couple hours out from Ibiza. The little packet (300 ft, or so) churned its way, cresting waves, pitching so deep that the propeller would actually lift out of the water. Down in the troughs, the little boat would briefly roll side to side in the cross currents before climbing the next wave. I guess I was too inexperienced to be scared. I stayed above deck for some of it. Such waves!
Since that night, the longest I've been at sea was during an offshore fishing trip in South Carolina. I'm sure it was the longest 6 hours in my wife's life. Her reaction to that is why we've delayed taking a cruise so long. We've spent enough on the upcoming trip that she won't back out, I'm sure. And she has been encouraged by both myself and friends who have cruised that ship technology has changed far beyond what I've experienced. Besides, most of my "cruises" were aboard recycled pre-WWII
refitted cargo conversions.
By the way, one of the best movies that led to my maritime obsession was "Last Voyage," starring Robert Stack, Dorothy Malone, and Woody Strode. George Saunders played the captain of the ill-fated vessel. It's a quite good movie, right up there with the 1953 version of "Titanic" with Clifton Webb and Barbara Stanwick. Some incidents in the "Last Voyage" appear to have been inspired by incidents aboard the Andrea Doria.
52 days 'til Sensation