As a child, my vacation wish list was simple -- a beach -- and I trusted my parents to take care of the details. We went once a year, every year, and life was never better than when I was sunburned and waterlogged.
There was one notable exception to the tradition, the year I turned 14. We piled into the station wagon for a two-week odyssey to visit what seemed like every historic region, town and monument on the entire East Coast.
We were still in the euphoric planning stage when my parents let slip that this would be an "educational experience," the implications of which were lost on my little sister, but clear to me. We would visit the nation's capital, Amish country, New York City, the Catskills, Boston and Plymouth Rock -- for starters. Suddenly, I realized I was in for a 2,500-mile-long history and geography lesson.
There were many curious aspects to that journey, but none more so than the imaginary line of demarcation drawn across the middle of the back seat by my sister, her solemn efforts to maintain her borders, my frequent accidental incursions and the eventual collapse of civility -- all within an hour of leaving our driveway.
Thirteen days, 23 hours to go.
As inhumane as it seemed at the time, that monstrous road trip did have an impact on me. I can't say that I actually enjoyed any of it, and my sister literally fainted when entire lobsters were delivered to our table in Cape Cod (the trip's most anticipated meal!), but my eyes were opened to the Great Beyond. Somewhere out there on the road I caught travel fever, and I've never been able to shake it.
Fortunately, thanks to the cruise industry, parents no longer have to choose between "fun" and "education" when planning a family vacation. Cruise vacations offer both in abundance, to travelers of all ages. Families have benefited from the industry's focus on kids and the proliferation of itineraries to fascinating places throughout the world.
Kids will find the fun they crave at the ship's pool, ping-pong table, sports courts, video arcade and youth centers. When my son was very young, we went straight to the nearest beach at every warm-weather port, which was always a winner.
Adults can attend onboard lectures and classes (foreign language, cooking, etc.) on sea days, and immerse themselves in local culture, customs and cuisine while in port. And wherever you roam via ship, you will do it in style and comfort, wined and dined and entertained.
Come to think of it, my vacation wish list is still simple. As a kid, all I needed was a beach. Now all I need is a ship.
Vacations To Go
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