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This is not just a review.
This is the story of all the things that happened to us, the thoughts we had and the decisions we made that had implications on our cruise.
If you want just the cruise review, wait until I post the review, which will probably be titled "The journey begins"
We were at the North-West corner of a big loop on our trip to the US and Canada. The loop started its South-East corner in Salt Lake City and carried us north through Yellowstone NP and Glacier NP to Calgary, AB and to Banff NP and Jasper NP. The North-West corner was in Vancouver, BC.
One day, when we were riding the SeaBus, we could see a big white ship docking at Canada Place. It looked huge. As the SeaBus advanced further towards the north shores, I was looking for the name of the ship, it was the Dawn Princess, white and tall. I think we counted over 10 floors. Little did we know we should have counted decks! In fact we didn't know anything about cruising and ships.
Our past experience with ships involved two whale watching trips. The first one was on a small and very rocking boat in Oregon, the second was off the coast of Maine.
We didn't know where the Dawn is headed for, nor did we know for how long she is going, but we just enjoyed the sight of her docking there, dwarfing the SeaBus and everything else in the waters near her. I suspect that's where and when the seed was seeded.
Back home in Jerusalem, as my wife and I were watching the pictures we took, we could see another ship recorded on one of the pictures taken from Stanley park. This one was darker on the lower part. I zoomed in to read its name - Volendam.
We concluded that Canada Place must be a point from where some ships are leaving.
This was no minor matter. Laying before our eyes was an evidence that dozens, maybe hundreds of people are sailing on ships to places unknown to us. We have been to places, we traveled Europe, the US, and Canada, yet our trips were on land with a car as the main means of transportation.
A simple web search revealed the fact that there is a large industry whose business is to ship people around for the fun of it. The name of this industry is Cruising.
We entertained the thought of incorporating a cruise into one of our future trips, so the web search was expanded to learn more about cruising. It didn't take long to find some sites carrying articles about cruising. Some of them also have links to an entire section on reviews - first-hand experience-telling about cruises the reviewer had taken. There were also pictures of ships and rooms - only later did we discover they are cabins or staterooms - some of them with balconies.
So I began reading. Soon enough we found that there are ships carrying not only dozens and hundreds of passengers. Some carry thousands! Daily! on numerous ships! to many destinations! If all those people are cruising, there must be something good about it, and I betcha some of them have complaints, or compliments, or just want to tell about it. They do.
O boy, they do. I discovered the boards. I started reading the boards. There was a lot to read about - destinations, duct tape, formal nights, lines, ships, duct tape, formal nights, packing, food, duct tape and formal nights.
I was looking for a diversified range of opinions and experience and details. Naturally, the larger the specimen, the more diversified it is. It didn't take too much time to stumble upon the Cruise Critic board. So many subjects, so many topics, so many replies. The place is bustling with activity. Maybe I should stick to this board longer than other boards? I did. Still am.
I was overwhelmed with information. It was just too much. I had over 10 browser windows open at the same time, each one telling me more and more, increasing my confusion, adding details upon details, from line profile to hangers count in the cabin, from tuxedo debate to pizza delivery, from disembarkation (another new word for us) horror stories to bingo, from casino to PA announcements, from Coco Cay to Skagway.
It was becoming ridiculous. I had to sort it out, prioritize the subjects, close some browser windows.
My wife Dalia and I decided that first of all we need to concentrate on where do we want to go.
Being a high school teacher, Dalia gets a lengthy vacation in summer so that is when we travel. Considering the high cost and the long flights from Israel, it does seem too short a vacation for anything less then 14 days. So where do we go for two or three weeks, more or less, and include a cruise?
Hot and humid summer we got here, so the Caribbean was kinda voted off. We were still fascinated by the ride up the Athabasca Glacier in Jasper NP. Besides, just like a new born chick, we were imprinted. We liked the idea of sailing out of Vancouver. So one problem solved - from Vancouver we will sail to Alaska!
Now who do we trust with our souls on board to ship us in what we consider luxury?
Luxury is a relative issue. Each time we travel, we increase our luxury level a notch. From non-descript, smelly motels to more refined accommodations, from greasy roadside fast food to better restaurants, from compact to full-size cars. This is where cruise line profiles come into play. We learned about expedition, mass-market, upscale and luxury lines. We also learned about relative pricing. We also considered food, cabins, level of comfort and atmosphere.
We discovered that expedition ships are more expensive, offering less variety of things to do on ship and places to relax and be quiet. We also discovered that luxury lines are very expensive, so our tendency was mass-market or preferably upscale-mass-market. The reviews were informative, so were the boards, and somehow, with some gut feeling and some reasoning I made up my mind. We will sail with Celebrity.