Friday, January 28, 2022 Jan 28, 2022
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In years gone by they were the ocean-going playgrounds of kings arid queens and robber barons, or others with vast fortunes at their command. No one else could possibly afford cruise ships or the opportunity to set forth upon the high seas with a legion of attendants to serve their every whim. ■ Times change. The elegant notion of taking a cruise to some exotic port of call has become a familiar, affordable vacation for many an American, Dallasites definitely included. Once the province of leisured classes only, the cruise has in many ways become a great American getaway of the ’80s. ■ A cruise comes packaged in so many ways that regardless of time or budget constraints, the perfect cruise for you can easily be had. The traveler today can pick a three-day cruise to Mexico or Bermuda, a week-long cruise to Alaska or some shimmering Caribbean island or a year’s cruise around the world. And that same traveler, whose age can range from swinging single to senior citizen, can walk up the gangplank for the purpose of partying until dawn, getting a much-needed rest, studying, exploring history first hand, embarking on a ceaseless shop-til-you-drop spree, or even exercising, dieting and dropping a few pounds. I So how does someone who hasn’t been indoctrinated to cruise life on sixteen different voyages know where to turn? Enter the travel agent of choice: those who are both worldly and who have access to die storehouse of information available through the Cruise Lines International Association can set the wheels of the selection process in motion, even for first-time travelers. I Whatever the trip’s purpose, all travelers on a cruise can expect to experience many things in common. Cruise lines promote the^total vacation” package, as well they might. Trips ashore and assorted other adventures certainly aren’t mandatory, since cruise ships are vast, self-contained vacations afloat. For a change of pace, you just change decks. It can be that simple and that refreshing, ■ So the old idea of finding a deck chair or two, seeing an occasional old movie and viewing miles and miles of ocean-and little else-has been dry-docked aboard today’s ships. Now there are outdoor and indoor swimming pools, a galaxy of deck spaces, theaters and nightclubs, ship-to-shore telephones, cable television, bars and lounges, acres of polished brass and rich woods and designer fabrics and. . .well, you get the idea. ■ And then there’s the food. In a word, it’s endless. From dawn to dusk and then on into the night, the calories pile up from staggering buffets, continental menus and even 24-hour room service. The croise lines vie for the most talented European and American chefs to bring their luscious wares to dazzled passengers. ■ No wonder, then, that exercise has become die new order of the day for cruising. Workout clothes go into travelers1 suitcases along with attire for sunning. swimming and cocktail partying, and on most cruises, fitness instructors have replaced the old-line conga teachers. There are gyms with computerized exercise machines, saunas, aerobics and yoga classes, snorkeling lessons in the pools and on-shore opportunities for golf and tennis. ■ The availability of such an abundance of extras depends, of course, on die cruise line and the price of the ticket (although competition today almost mandates this array of choices), The same applies to cabin sizes and accomodations therein. But ships tend to follow the same pricing patterns as hotels. The pricier units are the suites: a sitting room-bedroom accomodation. Staterooms come next, with the most expensive ones on the upper decks. One trend prevails on all ships: single person accomodations cost more on a per-person basis than double. With ail that in mind, it’s time to consider your choice of destinations: from New England (in the fall. of course) to Bora Bora, from China to the CaJapagos Islands. Dallasites seem to opt for all of those eventually, but more and more, the islands of Bermuda, the Bahamas and the Caribbeanwin out. Seeing these islands by cruise ship may be the best way to do it. Just remember to select the trip to suit your own travel pace.

On the following pages we take a look at these endless possibilities; all the what-to-see and what-to-do options of island cruising.

Bermuda: Strict government controls keep this island splendidly clean and free of overcrowding, both on the roadways (no rental cars available, just Mopeds) and among the hotels. Flowers bloom triumphantly, cottages are painted in romande pastels and the south shore beaches are tinged with crushed pink coral. Shopping along Front Street in Hamilton, where the ships call, is a must.

The Bahamas: These 700 islands just 50 miles off the Florida coast range from the Family Islands group, where visitors can stroll the beaches for miles without passing another footprint, to Nassau with its bustling waterfront, a bounty of shopping, colorful colonial architecture and casinos nearby.

And nestled in the Caribbean, here are some of the islands that beckon to cruise liners:

Anguilla: People who love Anguilla call it the most perfect of the small, secluded, getaway islands. Civilization has made few inroads here, and that’s the glory of it. The beaches are splendidly tranquil.

Antigua: Some visitors can’t tear themselves away from the beaches, but history fans like tromping through some terrific examples of 18th century ruins.

Barbados: Alive with remnants of its British history, this island can boast about its jet-set residents, plantation houses, museums, shops and glorious beaches.

British Virgins: A string of serenely unex-ploited islands, this group includes Tortola, Virgin Gorda, Peter Island and others. Laid-back cousins to the American Virgins, these retreats lure the folks who shun crowds and hot spots (not to be found here) in favor of exclusivity and naturally wondrous surroundings.

Curacao: Casinos draw in the gamblers to this Dutch resort, where the capital of Willemstad sends photographers into ecstasy with the pastel hues and gabled architecture of its historic buildings.

Jamaica: Compared to the minuscule size of most Caribbean islands, here’s the King Ranch of the local spreads. Thus Jamaica can cram more diversity and more majestic scenery into its square miles than anyplace around. From the capital of Kingston, alive with fascinating crafts, architecture and museums, to the glossy resort of Negri], Ocho Rios, Montego Bay and Port Antonio, Jamaica never disappoints. Try the museum that was once playwright Noel Coward’s home (near Ocho Rios).

Martinique: Test your land legs on the walking and hiking paths of the Pare Naturel, swathed in greenery, or on the streets of the capital of Fort-de-France, a dandy for sightseers,

Nevis: One part of the two-island nation of St. Kitts-Nevis, these 38 square nines reflect the casual, comfortable West Indian lifestyle as well as anyplace around. The Baths, sulphur springs known for health-giving powers centuries ago, have been partially restored on Nevis. Ferries take the visitor to St. Kitts, where some 18th and 19th century structures have been restored to house shops and restaurants.

St. Barthélémy: Its French heritage is responsible for its reputation of having some of the most incredible food among the islands. Sample the cuisine in the town of Gustavia, then be a tourist and ogle the chic people and yachts at anchor in the bay.

St.Lucia: A nature preserve called Pigeon Point, the mountains on the southwest coast and elegant crafts for sale on market day in Castries are a few of the attractions worth noting here.

Si. Martin: Any island with two names and two nationalities would almost have to be neurotic to a fault, but St. Martin (the French half) and Saint Maarten (the Dutch half) blend the best of both worlds into a well integrated whole. The smallest nation in the world to be governed by two different nationalities, this island is booming with tourism, commerce and popularity. The tourists come for the absolutely dazzling new multimillion dollar resorts, the French shopping in Marigot and the casinos in Dutch Philipsburg. To find less populated beaches, try the northwest coast, where the rockier terrain shys away the crowds.

St. Vincent and the Grenadines: Glorious white sand beaches abound in this colony of islands, including Petit St. Vincent, Palm Island, Bequia, Cotton House and Mus-tique. Known as much as anything else for celebrity residents (Princess Margaret retreats to her house on Mustique when royal chores get too taxing and of course Mick Jagger and Jerry Hall long ago succumbed to the islands charms), these islands are every bit worth visiting for their take-your-breath-away beauty.

US Virgins: St. Thomas offers the antithesis of getting-away-from-it-all with traffic jams, planeloads of American conventioneers and a harbor in the city of Charlotte Amalie absolutely bursting with cruise ships and other ocean-going vessels of every size and description. But its popularity lies in the several narrow streets along the harborfront, where dozens upon dozens of shops offer a staggering array of goods to be had at dutyfree prices. For cruise ship passengers, this is shoppers1 paradise.

Just a short ferry ride away lies St. John, which seems as quiet as a tomb compared to St. Thomas. The reason: most of the island lies protected as a national wilderness (due to the foresight of the late Laurence Rockefeller, who purchased the land and then turned it over to the government). The beaches here remain particularly memorable for their unspoiled charm and the radiant turquoise and cobalt colors of the waters.

The third of the US Virgins, St. Croix, is a beguiling country cousin. The two towns-18th century, Danish-influenced Christiansted, and Victorian-style Fred-eriksted- offer shops, inns and restaurants behind historic facades. Photographers will love this island, which often tends to be overlooked by visitors to the US Virgins, Ruins of old sugar plantations dot the island, and Offshore Buck Island beckons to scuba divers and snorkelers.