Cruising and theTravelsketcher Part 2

As I begin writing it is 0515 on 3 November, 2022. We are less than two hours from the port of Civitavecchia, our last stop on this eleven day cruise. It is dark out though there is enough light from the ship to see the whitecaps on the water while listening to the rhythmic wash of the wake. It seems to be a good time to revisit my thoughts on cruising.

In my prior post I covered how I moved from a position of not even willing to consider a cruise to actually taking a cruise, much of that post is still quite relevant. Yet my thoughts have continued to evolve – from the view of cruising in general, and as theTravelsketcher.

Once you accept a ship for what it is, a noisy playground for adults, then learn to work around that, cruising is not so bad. There is always sound, except in your cabin, even at 0600 on the deck where I would go and was the only passenger around, there was music playing. The cruise staff create a plethora of activities, lest anyone be consigned to entertain themselves; a few of them are not so bad.

We went to a dance production on our last day, quite impressive. I sipped a glass of Chardonnay while waiting for Tricia and sketched a couple people.

What this cruise has done is reenforced my lack of enthusiasm for tours – the following-a-guide-holding-a-flag kind of thing. We went on three, two were disappointing – forty people at a wine tasting does not work. A long bus ride to a quaint village where you park next to ten other busses that have already dropped their forty people to crowd the narrow streets does not work either, and the busses just keep coming.

Had we just taken the ship’s tender to Thera, and browsed around there, it would have been better. Here is a sketch from the ship with the cable car on the left side.

The one excursion that did work was essentially just a bus ride from the ship to the base of the Acropolis in Athens. The only tour guide function was giving clear directions to the entrance, then meeting up with us 5 hours later to take us back to the ship. A good day, other than the crowds. So we have learned to be judicious about shore excursions.

Much of what determines the satisfaction of a vacation is knowing what you are looking for, this cruise helped to clarify what is important to me. Some travel for experiences, I would include hiking, even laying on the beach, rock climbing, zip lines etc. Others travel for shopping. Some, in fact too many, travel for selfies – this cruise had a shore excursion at every port that started with the title, “Best selfie in…” – I still am convinced the Instagram world does not need to see my face in front of every building. There are people who travel to check things off a list, “I saw the Acropolis, ok, now let’s run to the next item on the list.” Some travel for immersion in the culture and food, which of course is the main reason Tricia and I travel, unfortunately this is where cruising is weakest. Yes we did get a taste of a few places, and may revisit a couple, but only a taste.

For Tricia and me another reason for travel is photography and sketching. Sketching takes time, which is the one thing that is often missing on a shore excursion, so I either had to do really fast 5 minute sketches, or sketch from a photo later. In Corfu and Messina we stayed close to the ship and I was able to get in a bit of real sketching.

The crowds are an added deterrent to sketching, yet not insurmountable. At the Acropolis we climbed for about 30 minutes up a steep crowded path, on a hot day. At the top there were tons of people, I was hot and tired and not really in a mood to capture the moment. Thankfully Tricia encouraged me to sit on a rock and at least do something, no matter how quick. She was so right, I quickly sketched one of the temples, and am glad I did, it made the hike up the hill worth it all.

So where do I stand as far as cruising now? We will go on another, it will take us to a few places we would probably not go to otherwise but that are of interest – and it is on a ship half the size of the Epic. We will handle the shore excursions quite judiciously, avoiding activity or experience centered excursions because they are just not important to us. We will focus on seeing the place by wandering, eating, and photography, with time for sketching. I know that cruising will be the exception not the norm for us, we are smarter about it now, so will enjoy it more next time.

Since I started writing this we have arrived in Rome, it feels good to be back on our normal travel routine. I am finishing this early in the morning at a small local cafe, drinking a cappuccino. It is delightfully raining, they are setting up a market just a few feet away, AND I am the only non-local around – this is perfect traveling for me. We will walk to the Vatican today, we saw the Parthenon yesterday afternoon, but often the best times are these moments just surrounded by the place.

Here are a couple of sketches so far.

The market

Sketching people in the cafe.

Most all travel is good, some is just better than others, the key is to know what works, but be willing to try something new, just as long as you keep traveling, even if you are just exploring your own town. And as always keep sketching.

4 Comments Add yours

  1. ourcrossings says:

    Wow your sketches are quite amazing 👏

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thank you so much, I usually like to sit a bit and take more time, but we do what we do.


  2. I like your closing sentence that almost all travels are good, but others just better. That’s a wonderful way of looking at travel (in which ever form it comes). Your last few sketches of people – I like that!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thanks. One thing that I always find interesting is that when I do those kinds of sketches, which at times I just dont think turn out well, people comment or Like them on Instagram, go figure.

      Liked by 1 person

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