Disclaimer: This is not a sponsored post. All views expressed are entirely my own.
As a young girl, I have always had a penchant for the vast ocean. The openness of the giant waters has constantly intrigued me; perhaps it was and still is the resemblance of freedom. And along the way, that love for the ocean somehow transformed into an interest in cruising. I first came across a Royal Caribbean cruise catalogue from our local travel agent idly lying on our dining table. Flipping through the pages, I gravitated towards the Alaskan cruises section. It had never occurred to me that one could travel to an isolated place like Alaska! Little did I know that thousands of people travel, mostly on cruises, to this beautiful and scenic land. And since then, I became fixated on my dream to travel to Alaska. I finally got to live out my dream with my family aboard the Star Princess Alaskan cruise in the summer of 2014. We had already decided to visit Santa Clara, California. Wanting to visit Alaska while we were in the U.S.A., we realized that the Star Princess Alaskan round-trip 11-day cruise from San Francisco through Alaska was the perfect fit for our needs. This was handy for us because it meant one less flight reducing the hassles at customs over my electric wheelchair.
The 11-day voyage seemed long but it gave us plenty of time to explore the cruise ship’s amenities and enjoy all of its services. It also gave us a chance to disconnect from the outside world and bond as a family. Despite having access to wireless Internet, we didn’t want to spend hundreds of dollars on it, as it was the perfect opportunity to disengage from the virtual domain. Cruising is one of the best travel options for wheelchair users, offering the once-in-a-lifetime experience of roaming far-flung destinations. The whole cruise ship was completely disability-friendly. There were wheelchair accessible rooms that gave ample space to park and drive the wheelchair. The bathrooms were also disability accessible in these rooms. We were advised to book early, as these rooms were limited. My room, luckily, was close to the rest of my traveling group, and because my room was the roomiest (due to the space I required), it became the primary hangout location. Upon boarding the cruise, everyone was given a cruise card. This was a simple card, resembling a credit card that served multiple purposes. Most importantly, this card was the room key. The cruise card also served as a credit card, where any shopping done on board was charged to the passenger’s account through the card. Basically, the cruise card was the passengers’ lifeline, as it was necessary in identifying the passengers when boarding and leaving the cruise at the ports. And now to one of my favorite aspects of cruising – the FOOOOD! Dining on board was like living in a fabulous five-star restaurant. Cruise dining is everything that a foodie dreams of, and it is good enough to satisfy the fussiest eater. There was always a dining buffet available from breakfast to lunch to dinner. The formal dinners, where all sorts of dining whims are entertained, were my favorite because it was the perfect occasion for the whole group to congregate together after the day’s activities. The Piazza offered light appetizers. And next to The Piazza, was a Wine and Sushi Bar. To satisfy our junk food cravings, American classics such as pizza, burgers, fries and perhaps the best ice cream ever (according to my sister) were easily available. It was safe to say that I probably had a food baby after constantly feeding myself.
As if constantly feeding us wasn’t enough, the staff went a step further and would drop off goodies at our rooms time-to-time. From samosas to luscious chocolate-covered strawberries, the dining continued from the dining rooms to our bedrooms.
Cruises are just a giant resorts sailing in the great, big oceans. There is something for everyone, making it the perfect holiday for families. Being an art lover myself, I found myself in an art discussion forum after admiring their art gallery. We spent our evenings at the lounges, where the rock band performed every night. Right across the lounge, was a classical pianist, whose music was a smooth juxtaposition to the retro rock we had just heard inside. On one special night, the rock band allowed my brother to play with them, and he described it as “an amazing feeling to be playing as an amateur with international musicians”.
From comedic shows to Movies Under The Stars, the cruise provided everyone with something to do. Snuggled up under a warm blanket, I watched Frozen screened at the open-air poolside (literally under the star-studded sky), while snacking on the complimentary popcorn provided. It took me back to the days when we used to frequent the drive-in cinema with a loaded picnic basket.
Cruise days (days of just sailing) allowed us to really enjoy the cruise’s amenities. From the pool to the spa to the shops, it was the perfect vacation because everyone was kept occupied. The cherry on top was the disco club, where the adults got our groove on, after a packed day full of activities! I personally think one of the best parts of cruising is the ability to travel to various destinations, without really having to pack and unpack while actually going from place to place. Furthermore, we were able to book our port excursions online before boarding the cruise and this reduced the trouble of booking it on board. After being so pampered, I was sad to leave the cruise; and as though Princess Cruises knew how I was feeling, they threw us a farewell party, complete with balloons, music and dancing.
Aah, can somebody please just put me on a cruise now!
All pictures are provided by Diva Shah Photography, unless otherwise stated.