What do you do when you are floating down the Danube in the rain? Well, you just look at the world from a different perspective.
I am a river rat. Not a rafter, but a lollygaging Huck Finn kinda swamp rodent who likes to flow with the current and poke around the slough. Lord Buddha describes The Dharma as a raft that floats one to Nirvana. A few days on a river and I find myself paddling pretty close to a perfect state of bliss.
He was a Herr Doktor, a demanding, pompous man shaped like a pork sausage. By the second night aboard our Fiji Cruise he was the victim of mass-avoidance. Like Mark Twain’s “Old Traveler” he boasted about where he had been, about his prominence as a surgeon, how he was traveling the world while his wife, also a surgeon, stayed at home, tending to the sutures and clamps.
But Jack was a different type. Everybody took to him immediately. Jack was a big Samoan, a boilermaker by trade who was taking his wife on her first vacation without the kids in 20 years. Jack became our official chief, our Ratu, in Fijian tribal parlance, and he didn’t let go until he broke Herr Doktor.
Santorini, Greece © Russell Johnson
Where are the surly waiters? Where are the soggy pommes frites? Where is the water blasting out of the shower head like an Arctic squall? Where are all of those travel horror stories that you laugh about later?
Some people I know think travel means travail, that Christ-like suffering is honorable and that cruising is nothing more than high calorie sensory euthanasia. I suggest that they “get a life” (albeit an expensive one) and try, just once, one of the luxury cruise ships. It may be a once-in-a-lifetime experience, but I would trade half a dozen mediocre experiences on a behemoth party ship for one on a smaller luxury vessel.