Monday, March 27, 2017

Won't You Let Me Take You On A Sea Cruise?

JULIA SPENCER-FLEMING: Yesterday was more snow, followed by sleet and freezing rain here in glorious southern Maine. It's been two months of - as it says in the lyrics from a song I used as a book title - snow on snow, snow on snow. Followed by melting, mud, refreezing, etc. I am SO tired of cold and miserable weather, I'm about to sell my left kidney for a trip to the Caribbean. Unfortunately, the market for kidneys is down right now, so I have to take my trip  in my imagination.

So Reds, lets plan a fabulous cruise.,,What do we want? A writing trip, where everyone works on their books while watching blue waters pass by during the day, and eating fabulous meals at night? A workshop cruise, where we all teach and learn and go snorkeling and eat fabulous meals at night? An historic river cruise (during the height of summer so it's nice and warm) where we tour and shop and eat fabulous...oh, you know.,,

Me, I'd book us on a Windstar cruise - small (250 passenger) ships that sail to places like Egypt, India, Southeast Asia. I'd like to go to Tahiti to experience the amazing waters and soak up the sun (while wearing spf 50, of course.) I picture us all sitting at tables on the poop deck or whatever it's called, under awnings, working away ceaselessly except for the occasional dip into the netted pool hanging off the stern of the ship. We could get a massage at the end of the day, followed by waiters named Raul and Jean-Paul bringing us fruity cocktails before dinner. The person who produces the most words gets to be the first to snorkel when we reach the next atoll. After eleven days, we all return relaxed, rested and with fifty pages of new material.,,

How about you, Reds? What cruise would you design for us to escape to? Or if water isn't your thing, what resort? And should it be work, play, or a little of both?

HALLIE EPHRON: I hate confined spaces and I get seasick. So hold the cruises for me, though the one you describe, Julia, sounds pretty great.

Having said that, we ARE booked on a cruise! A small ship (20 staterooms) in August, the Inside Passage from Sitka to Ketchikan. There’s no other way to see it except from a boat. For me priorities will be birds/wildlife and food, not necessarily in that order and certainly not at the same time. I plan to bring my binoculars and my Kindle, warm socks, and leave my computer at home. I will, however, take notes.

HANK PHILLIPI RYAN: I'll go anywhere with the Reds! But preferably someplace on land. Could I maybe drive or fly to wherever it is? I think of cruise, I think of norovirus.  AND of my dear pals who just got back from a cruise in Vietnam and Cambodia, which they said was gorgeous, (eventually) but on their first day on the river cruise, on a glam 6-stateroom yacht, they were all out searching for caves in a kayak, and realized they were being stalled about going back to the ship. When they finally said--you know, we'd like to go back to the ship, the fowling conversation ensued:

Ship guy: Well, there's a little problem with the ship.

Friends: Like what?

Ship guy: Like, well, there was an engine fire and it sank.


They got almost everyone's stuff off before the final sinking, except for the clothing of the people who had unpacked. So--let that be a lesson.

But if we're doing imaginary, I'm thinking ...Amalfi Coast. And work and wine and relaxing, and food and Reds?  I'm totally in.

LUCY BURDETTE: Oh Julia,  we've been on a Windstar cruise and it's heaven. The food is terrific, and you don't have to dress up (I hate the idea of lugging formal wear on a trip!), and the ports are pleasant and small. And Tahiti sounds excellent. About the working all the time though, hmmm, not sure that's realistic. I get seasick too, but I popped Dramamine every day and I was fine.

Hallie, can't wait to hear about your Alaskan adventure. And love the idea of traveling somewhere to work with Reds...

RHYS BOWEN: Gee, thanks a lot for sharing that, Hank. John and I are booked on a cruise in June--around the Mediterranean. Now I won't want to unpack my bags!

 We've done quite a few cruises, two Med cruises with Holland America before, several Princess, the classic transatlantic crossing on the QE2 and a Danube cruise. I think I liked the latter the best. The ship is small and low enough to go under bridges and the windows are just above the water so life on the banks is right there. And they anchor in the middle of town so you can step ashore when you feel like it.

We chose a cruise again this year so there is not a lot of packing and unpacking and dragging bags onto trains for John, who still isn't that mobile or strong. But I enjoy the relaxed feeling of no decisions more than do I want the filet mignon or the lobster?

But for an escape with the Reds? I'd choose a beach-front cabin in the Caribbean. So much more relaxed and quiet. Cruises are noisy and it's hard to find space. Our cabin would naturally have a chef and maid and food would miraculously appear at meal times. And a shady beach with good snorkeling and a big deck over blue water.... sigh.

JENN McKINLAY: I've only been on one cruise. Hub and I celebrated our first anniversary on the Love Boat. You know, the ship that leaves Los Angeles and stops in Ensenada, Mazatlan, etc., and -- SURPRISE! -- we discovered I was pregnant with Hooligan 1, so I slept and slept and went to the buffet and slept and slept some more. I remember naps, ornate fruit sculptures, and towels folded into manta rays and penguins. So, I figure I am overdue for a cruise where I am upright and conscious. Reds, you can take me anywhere!

How about you, dear readers? What sort of getaway would you plan? And would you relax and read, or refresh and write?


  1. Not sure about a cruise . . . like Hallie, I am not fond of small spaces and I, too, get seasick. But anywhere i could sit and read would be a great trip . . . .

  2. Oh, Rhys, it was a once-in-a-lifetime experience for them… But here's the thing: I am never going to know two people who had problems on a cruise. So you are safe!

    And Julia, now you have me really yearning for a jungle red working and resting expedition… And I think the Caribbean sounds great… Xx

  3. I wouldn't mind cruising the Greek Islands. Without the waves.

  4. Hallie, I'm green with envy for your Alaskan cruise! That's the only state I've never visited, and I really want to make that same cruise part of whatever else we do when we're there. Someday. I hope you get to see lots of whales and other critters.

    I also get seasick, as I found out when on a four-day cruise in the Galapagos. It was amazing, and if you ever get a chance to go I highly recommend it. The steward gave me some unnamed pill that worked great for the nausea, but I could never figure out what that magic elixir was. Snorkeling with the sea turtles and the Galapagos penguins was a once in a lifetime experience.

    Lots of friends have taken, or are taking, river cruises in Europe, like the one you took on the Danube, Rhys. Everyone raves about their trips. That sounds like more my speed than being trapped on a floating city in the ocean with rolling seas. I'm getting green just thinking about it, and it has nothing to do with envy!

  5. I was all in for a cruise until all the talk of seasickness, sinking ships, and norovirus. I like the idea of a cabin on a Caribbean beach. But I could also imagine a working retreat in the mountains of Colorado with stunning views from every window. And of course, the fabulous meals at night.

  6. Hallie, I also get seasick on small boats but have never been on a large cruise ship. I would love to do your Alaskan cruise! I have seen whales on both the west and east coast of North America (California and Nova Scotia) but would love to see the beautiful natural scenery and wildlife in Alaska!

    Similar to what Karen said above, many friends have gone on the river cruise down the Danube from Amsterdam to Budapest. I have only down short 3-hour boat trips on the Rhine (Mainz-Koblenz) and around Budapest, and this does sounds attractive. The main turnoff for me is the price - I can do several solo journeys for the same price!

  7. I recently read that Jude Deveraux takes annual world cruises, where she gets most of her novel writing done. Around the world in 180 days! Can you imagine six months, writing on a cruise ship? I'd like to try it, but without the fancy resort wear. If I have to dress up to eat, I'll bring ONE dress and wear it every night. Or if I can get room service, then I'd skip every other night. You know, help preserve the sequins. :)

  8. What fun! Never been on a cruise and it doesn't appeal to me in the least. But the beach cabin does! Warm sand in my toes and fabulous food I don't have to cook? Sign me up.

  9. I can't write (or read) on a bus or in a moving car without getting nauseous... wonder if there's the same problem on a boat. On a train I'm fine. Why is that?

  10. I've been on several cruises in the Caribbean and I've had enough of that! Borrrrring. An Alaska cruise (small ship) could be tempting. Also river cruises in Europe might be nice. I'd rather fly to wherever and start sightseeing. Maybe stay in one spot and take day trips?

  11. Hallie: I have the exact same problem with reading/motion sickness on buses and cars, so I listen to audio books or music instead. And fortunately I have no problem reading on a subway/train (weird) or plane. I figured it was noticing the scenery whiz by in my peripheral vision but then how comes the train is ok? If someone knows why for both of us, I would love to know, too!

  12. Cate - I read the same thing about Jude Deveraux. I also heard she had a special place where she wrote and another passenger started to sit there and it started a bit of a feud. I have a certain seat at the library that I use when the frat house gets too loud and I would feel the same way if I found someone in it. LOL.

  13. It all sounds good to me. The Hubby and I have "river cruise" on our list of things to do in a few years when the kids leave the nest.

    I think a cabin on the Carribbean side of Puerto Rico would be wonderful. Not too hot, white sand beach, crystal blue water.

    A little work, a little play, and a LOT of good food. Sounds good to me.

    Don't forget the attentive cabana boys and a nice spa!


  14. I went on my first cruise this last summer with my family - inside Alaska passage. It was wonderful. You'll have a great time, Hallie.

    With everyone going on in my life right now, a retreat of any kind sounds wonderful. Solo, group, I don't care. I think a beach and warm weather would be nice, but other than that I'm not really picky.

  15. I've been on Windstar and loved it, both in the Caribbean and Greece and Turkey. Hallie, you really wouldn't like it when the water rises above your cabin windows in the chop! I've also been on some big boats, and am not generally a fan, although I have to marvel at their sheer size and the level of organization that is required to keep things running smoothly. They usually circulate the week's grocery shopping list, and it's insane: a gazillion pounds of butter, etc.

    Hallie, be sure to bring some kind of rain gear and a fleece or the like for Alaska. It can be quite chilly, even in the summer.

    Hank, we took a brief cruise in Vietnam to Halong Bay, which was amazing. We were on a traditional "junk," a boat featuring an ancient Chinese design. We didn't experience any fires, but in the middle of the night, we awoke to a horrible screeching sound. Turns out they picked up anchor to change our position, but we seriously thought the boat was coming apart at the seams!

    Mark, I hope that life calms down in the not-too-distant future!

    And I love Rhys' idea of a beachfront cottage, especially if it comes equipped with a chef!

  16. Going on a cruise has never appealed to me, so I'll take a pass. Same with writing a book. (Ann grins). We have blocked two weeks in September to do something, might be the apartment in Paris or a driving trip in Provence, or England and Scotland. As far as getting together with all or most of the Reds, see you at Bouchercon in Toronto in October.

  17. Your post reminds me of a writers retreat held on a Caribbean cruise back around 2004. Remember the Maui Writers Conference before it went defunct? Through them. And it was a blast. Got my first short story published through it, worked with Elizabeth George, among others, and canoed in the Panama Canal!

    These days, my dream vacations always seems to revolve around writing. So I'd definitely retreat it. I'd love a cruise around the Meditteranean; I've always dreamed of traveling from Spain all the way around, ending in Morocco. Talk about a whirlwind tour of western civilization!

  18. Julia - we're dealing with the same miserable weather issues here in upstate NY. Not sure it will ever end. Sadly, a tropical cruise is not in the cards for me. Not sure I'd like a cruise anyway - not crazy about hordes of people. So, private yacht then! That sounds good as I would love to be on the water with my nearest and dearest.

  19. Julia, what a fun post! I am too much of a scaredy cat to go on a sea cruise - lol. I could go on a river cruise, though. If the ship sinks, at least I can swim across to land.

    One of my dreams is to go to a writing workshop similiar to the Rhys Bowen writing workshop in Tuscany. That sounded like so much fun! I was so bummed to not be able to go because of lack of funds.

    Love train travel. I remember my first train trip to visit my grandfather. Loved it, though I was 23 months. My tall dad had a hard time :-( It was not comfortable for him, though. I once took a train from DC to Charlottesville, VA and that was wonderful. Several times I took train trips from DC to Boston to visit friends.

    Love cross country skiing when there is snow.

  20. I was on a cruise from San Francisco to Hawaii when our area of NY was hit with 28 inches of snow. I can't stop singing The Love Boat theme. But I agree with Rhys, the European river cruise is very relaxing.

  21. Hank,
    OMIGOSH! More, please! Did they reimburse them for their lost books? Can you imagine? "My BOOKS were on that boat!! NOW what am I supposed to do? All the bookstores carry books in Vietnamese!"

    Good Lord.