With most cruises still on pause — but many cruisers dreaming of a return to the high seas — we asked people in the travel industry to tell us about the last sailing they were on and what it made it special or memorable.
For good measure, we also asked them where they are most excited to cruise next. Their responses follow:
Jason Beukema, CEO (chief excitement officer) of Whet Travel
My last cruise was the Groove Cruise, which sailed from Miami to Costa Maya, Mexico, on the Celebrity Infinity. It was the 33rd Groove Cruise sailing, and the reason it is so successful is the community of dance music aficionados that has been curated over 16 years. There is so much positivity and love onboard; it’s really unlike anything on land. Aside from transforming the ship with world-class production and artists such as Above and Beyond (my personal fave) there were four weddings and six proposals during the cruise. Many people call it the “Love Boat,” although if we had our own TV show it would be a bit more outrageous with all the theme parties and costumes.
It’s a place where people go to dance, escape reality and leave the world behind, and cruising with like-minded people is the best way in the world to do that.
I’m most looking forward to the next Groove Cruise, Jan. 7 to Taino Bay, Dominican Republic, on the Celebrity Infinity again. We feel that people need this experience, and the community agrees with us. They need to feel the love and positivity and feel the ocean breeze during the magical sunset and sunrise sets on the top deck of the ship. We need to have something to look forward to, now more than any other time in our lives.
A dance party in Costa Maya at Blue Kay Mahahual, during the Groove Cruise.
Denella Ri’chard, host of “Traveling with Denella Ri’chard @Home Edition” and former Holland America Line and Norwegian Cruise Line sales director
My last cruise was on the Girls’ Getaway with Oprah and Gayle King. I miss themed cruise experiences, where groups of people with the same interests come together for an amazing week of cruising and creating lifetime memories.
Of course, meeting Oprah on Holland America Line’s Nieuw Statendam is something I will never forget. Oprah was everything I expected: kind, generous and complimentary. She loved my dress with the African print train. We took a special picture together giving tribute to the movie “Black Panther,” which is especially meaningful to me in this moment with the recent passing of lead actor Chadwick Boseman. Everyone left that cruise inspired, motivated to make a life change and feeling like Oprah shared personal stories of her life that we never knew.
When cruising resumes, I look forward to sailing on the new cruise line, Atlas Ocean Voyages, to South America. They have an itinerary called Intense Brazil: Samba & Sun, with stops in Rio de Janeiro and Salvador de Bahia, Brazil, and Punta del Este, Uruguay.
Alex Sharpe’s extended family on a shore excursion during a voyage of the Celebrity Reflection. Photo Credit: Courtesy of Alex Sharpe
Alex Sharpe, CEO of Signature Travel Network
Our family has a wonderful tradition of cruising over the New Year holidays. And when I say family I mean my extended family or, more specifically, 70 or more of my‐in-laws. Last year we sailed on the Celebrity Reflection for seven nights in the Caribbean. I love these Solstice-class ships, and with four generations onboard, it provided something for everyone, allowing folks to make their own plans during the day while enabling us to cross paths many times. The highlight is always when we all dine together every evening, and boy do we have fun.
There were two nights that stand out in my memory. One night at Le Petit Chef, we did a buyout for the late seating. The kids were mesmerized by the laser show on our plates, the food and drink were superb, and then at some point the maitre d’ thought it would be good to see this big Latin family (yes, I am the only gringo!) get up and dance. We Bluetoothed [the music on] my niece’s phone and danced with the entire staff for two hours. I watched my daughter dance with all of her cousins, some who don’t live in the U.S. They took selfies (they are teenagers) and danced, but when grandma took the dance floor, they all learned a thing or two, as well. We still talk about this night, and I bet we will for decades to come.
A couple of days later was New Year’s Eve, and that is always the highlight of our cruise. We were out on deck enjoying the music and fun when one of the waitresses from the night before found us and begged us to come into Observation Lounge because they wanted our nieces and nephews to dance.
Within minutes there were well over 200 people dancing together and celebrating the new year, filled with hope, love and unforgettable experiences created by traveling together on Celebrity.
Dale Sanders, outside agent with Travel Professionals International
On Feb. 29, my husband and I departed from the Port of Miami on the Symphony of the Seas for a hassle-free and adventure-filled seven-day cruise.
As usual, we were welcomed and treated by the crew with kid gloves as we escaped from the real world into the luxury of cruising. It seemed that magically everyone knew our names as we were greeted by our porters, servers and lounge hosts. Discovering a few of our friends from our Fort Lauderdale neighborhood made it even more exciting; what fun to meet them for breakfast or lunch or even in port.
We were delighted with our veranda stateroom that overlooked Central Park [the midship park interspersed with bars and restaurants]. The cabin gave off a feeling that we were the first to stay in this room. We constantly marveled at how the crew turned over the cabins between cruises so effortlessly.
Our days were full of fun, fun, fun. Two of the entertainment highlights were the outdoor diving show and the ice skating show. We even took a tour of Central Park led by a very highly qualified horticulturist.
Our evenings started with cocktail hour in the warm and lovely Crown and Anchor lounge. Choosing My Time dining enabled us flexibility while still enjoying the comfort of being greeted by our server. After dinner, we easily found casual music venues and dancing opportunities. The late-night comedy club was hysterical. The highlight of several evenings was casual and talented entertainment in the Jazz Club.
We plan to take another cruise to Europe or Alaska — keep hope alive!
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