It probably doesn’t show as well as I’d wish, but with the exception of my “random musings” and an occasional random rant, my posts are actually the product of some thought. Sometimes just a few minutes pre-planning, and others, a good bit more. But this one, well, I just felt like writing.

I just returned from my 17th cruise. Considering I had never sailed until February 2004, I think that’s a pretty good cruise completion rate for a guy that really does have a day job. From the moment I boarded Majesty of the Seas on February 16, 2004, I was hooked. Being a former airline manager, with a few years in the customer service side of the business, I was instantly amazed at how with few exceptions, the cruising experience was a new paradigm (for me) in service. Sure, checking in included a routine security check, and like an airline, Royal Caribbean has some “rules” it expects you to follow, but cruising was no trip to the airport. Even at a “mass market” line like Royal Caribbean, everyone seemed to be interested in making sure that I felt welcomed, cared for, and at ease. In other words, I felt like I was on vacation, and not running a gauntlet that I could not possibly complete.

That first cruise, like my most recent, was a short 4-nighter that left me wanting more. Frankly, if I had unlimited resources and no constraints on my time, I could sail for 30 days straight without blinking an eye. I’m often asked why I like to cruise so much. It’s a fair question. All I can say is this. I spend 50 weeks a year, planning, making appointments, going to meetings, thinking, and being responsible. When I’m on vacation, I don’t want to make plans, have appointments to keep, and a sure as hell don’t want to have any responsibilities. Cruising, like no other vacation, allows me to do what I want most with my time off. I get to experience a different country everyday, but I only have to unpack once. Once I get to the port, I don’t have to navigate the ship, be in charge of anything, and as long as I’m not doing something stupid like balancing my drunk self on the balcony railing, I don’t have to answer to anyone. My room gets cleaned twice a day, employees smile and say my name when they speak to me, and there are any number of options for dining, drinking, dancing, or just sitting by the pool if that’s what you want. Frankly, I just don’t think the dollar value of a cruise vacation can be beat.

No doubt, cruising isn’t for everyone. If you’re the type who gets motion sickness, can’t stand being within 8 miles of other people, or is afraid of the ocean, a land-based vacation may be better for you. Others will find that a small ship line like Seabourn is a much better fit for them than a floating resort provider like Royal Caribbean, Carnival, or NCL. For me, I’ll just keep cruising. I already know what I’m doing for my 18th cruise, and can’t wait to share the details with you. My name is Marshall Jackson, and I’m a cruise-a-holic.