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Making Memories At Sea

by Georgina Cruz

“Make your memory your travel bag,” Russian novelist Alexander Solshenitzen once recommended. Making memories at sea, to carry with me always, is a priority for me whenever I sail. I want to remember a special meal, activities and other aspects of life onboard, places I visited–I want to remember it all so I can place it on a prominent shelf of my mind to enjoy it at will whenever the mood strikes and to own it forever. Photos are nice, of course–and I take them–but the best, most portable album is in our own minds. With plenty of good memories, I can re-live the voyage wherever and whenever I wish, and “go on it” again countless of times, for as an old Spanish saying proclaims, “To remember is to live anew”

I have a strategy to make memories at sea that I employ whenever I sail. Here are some examples of successful memory-making approaches during some of my recent cruises.

  • Do something unusual. Doing something out of the ordinary plants the seeds for memories. During a cruise to Tahiti and French Polynesia on Princess Cruises’ Royal Princess, a voyage I certainly want to remember always, my husband Humberto and I went for something out of our regular routine each morning at sea. We ordered room service breakfast every morning –something we had never done before. In cruises past, we had, of course, ordered an occasional room service breakfast, but never every morning. The newness of the experience has stayed on my mind along with the panoramas (and we ordered breakfast at different times of the morning). On the day we arrived at Bora Bora, to celebrate the stunning view of its breathtaking blue lagoon and green-clad mountains (pictured above) – we indulged in Princess Ultimate Balcony Breakfast: a memorable meal in itself with fresh fruits, specialty pastries, smoked salmon, quiche and a half-bottle of French champagne to toast our good fortune to be in this paradise found. On this cruise, we also did something else out of the ordinary, since Princess features a two-day experience in Bora Bora, we booked an overnight at the Four Seasons Bora Bora –a resort with bungalows over water. Not only is the resort an unforgettable idyll with a crystal-clear lagoon for snorkeling with such rich marine life that is tantamount to snorkeling in an aquarium, but the newness of spending a night ashore during a voyage ensures memories.

  • Pick a spot–any spot–among your favorites on a ship, and return to it often. It can be a lounge, an iconic area, or any place on the vessel that strikes your fancy. Go to it at least once a day and do something there: take photos of it, sketch it, write in your travel journal, people-watch, or just daydream. On a recent cruise on Oceania Cruises’ new Marina, I selected the spectacular grand staircase – custom-crafted by French glass-master, Lalique. I made sure I took it every day once or twice, listened to a string quartet from one of the alcoves that flank the atrium, and lingered in the reception area to admire this stunning work of art consisting of double curved staircases and balcony with balustrades of crystal medallions and scrolled iron. There are six crystal pillars rising from the landing, a brass banister, mahogany handrail, and at the base, Lalique’s Cactus table surrounded by etched crystal screens and flanked by newels capped with crystal finials. A Lalique vase with fresh flowers is the crowning touch. Now whenever I see a grand staircase on a ship –or anywhere else—I think of the Marina and remember that cruise!

  • Memory-making experts always recommend that to remember an activity or other episode in our lives that we involve as many senses as possible. Biologist, writer and ecologist Rachel Carson recommends that the sense of smell particularly be involved, “For the sense of smell almost more than any other has the power to recall memories.” I can vouch for that as I indulged in fresh and fragrant pineapples from New Zealand during a voyage Down Under on the Diamond Princess five years ago, and to this day, whenever I smell the fragrance of pineapples I am transported back to the ship’s Horizon Court buffet where on several occasions I feasted on the luscious fruit. More recently, last fall, I involved my sense of smell, by enjoying fresh popcorn while watching movies under the stars on the Seabourn Sojourn and now whenever I detect the aroma of fresh popcorn I am back on the decks of that ship under starry skies. By association I quickly also remember the wonderful times I had out on deck on the Seabourn Sojourn, enjoying a frozen fruit sorbet, brought along with a chilled towel by a solicitous deck steward.

  • Finally, the fourth of my strategies for memory making, calls for doing something not just out of the ordinary, but completely new. It is so easy to remember the first of anything! So on each voyage, I try to do something novel. On a voyage aboard Disney Cruise Line’s Disney Dream, I tried the Aquaduck water coaster, a first at sea –and wow! I will never forget it! It is a thrilling, high-speed, 765-foot long, four-deck-high flume ride with drops, twists, uphill acceleration, turns and a swing-out loop that sends guests on inflatable rafts sliding 13 feet over the side of the ship in a transparent tube for a look at the sea 150 feet below. Now whenever I see a roller coaster or similar ride, my memory takes me back to the decks of the Disney Dream. Another completely new experience I tried to make memories was on a recent voyage to South America aboard Silversea’s Silver Spirit. On that ship my husband and I patronized the Hot Rock Grill for dinner a half-dozen times. Under a canopy on the deck overlooking the pool, we enjoyed grilling our own salmon, pork chops, steaks, and lamb chops on a hot volcanic rock plate while being fanned by cool breezes–something we had never done before, and with the sight of the ship’s navigational lights as our own mini-constellation, extremely memorable. We washed each wonderful meal down–from chips with salsa and avocado to warm apple pie with vanilla sauce–with a delicious Chilean merlot and other wines from the Santa Alicia vineyards as we sailed up the coast of Chile. On the evening of the Silversea repeaters’ party, all our senses were engaged: we smelled the bouquet of the wine, tasted the meal, touched the fine linens and utensils and felt the breezes, heard the cocktail party music by the pool below us, and saw the glorious starry skies and ship’s lights above us.

As the Dean Martin song goes, “Memories are made of this!”

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