Celebrating Fifty Years of Cruise Ships…

…gala buffets, muster drills and baked Alaska.

Flash back to Los Angeles, 1961.  Liz Taylor and Eddie Fisher were making headlines. Disneyland issued booklets with A – F level tickets used for admission to the rides. And I was boarding the M/S Matsonia for my first cruise from Los Angeles to Honolulu.

It was a six day crossing and the Pacific was anything but peaceful.  I walked around with a little white paper bag for three days.  Finally, at the half-way crossing point, I had my sea legs and without that emergency bag clutched in my small hand, I could happily run around the ship with my two new friends.  We were three eight year olds on a mission; to giggle through the passenger talent shows, hide from our parents and drink as much sugary fruit punch as possible.

Fast forward half a century and I’m onboard the NCL Sun, small by today’s “Behemoth of the Seas” standards.  But she’s not nearly as small as the 18,000 ton Matsonia.  So what am I doing here?

In search of a way to celebrate my Gold Anniversary of cruising, I planned a series of back to back cruises.  Timing is everything.  I didn’t know until after I’d made my reservations that this fifty year celebration would last for fifty days.

Here’s the Cliff Notes version of my itinerary:  Take the NCL Sun from Port Canaveral to an early debarkation in Amsterdam.   Hop a taxi to the train station and after changing trains in Brusssels, I’ll continue on to Luxembourg.  From there, I’ll board the AmaWaterways AmaLegro.  The next three cruises will be on the Rhine, Mosel and Danube rivers.  From Remich, France to Nuremburg, Germany to Budapest, Hungary and back upriver to Nuremburg in twenty-one days.

When I sadly leave the AmaLegro in Nuremburg, it’s three short train rides to Colmar, France.  My host, Gilles will collect me at the station and we’ll drive to Eguisheim for my four nights at his bed and breakfast inn. It’s here where I’ll get my land legs and spend the days biking through the vineyards in the Alsace region along the old Rue du Vin.

On 31 May, I’ll say “au revoir” to Gilles and head north to Hamburg, Germany.  The next day, I’ll pick up the Queen Mary 2 and sail up the Elbe River towards the Atlantic.  One familiar stop in Southampton and we’re New York bound, completing my fifty years/fifty days’ cruise.

Thank you to my wonderful daughters, for putting up with Mom’s global gallivanting.  And a posthumous thanks to my Mom and Dad, for taking a skinny, buck-toothed little girl on a family vacation that would evolve into a lifelong passion; to travel the world without flying.  If there’s a port, I can get there.

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