----------------------------------------------- */ ----------------------------------------------- */ ----------------------------------------------- */ ----------------------------------------------- */ ----------------------------------------------- */ ----------------------------------------------- */ The Fabulous Adventures of Astera: Writer/Actress for Hire: Cruising

The Fabulous Adventures of Astera: Writer/Actress for Hire

Meet Astera (aka: me), a star in her own mind. Our plucky little heroine has embarked on not one but two difficult, low-paying career paths: writing and acting. Witness the menial jobs! The unreasonable demands! The quirky friends and family! And the glimmer of success just ahead! Through it all, Astera maintains her core beliefs: 1) She is destined to be fabulous 2) Everything is more fun with a cocktail.

Wednesday, October 08, 2008


Although my Mediterranean cruise has ended and I am back on terra firma, I keep dreaming that I'm on a ship. Every night since my return, my dreams have taken me back to the high seas. Last night I even dreamed that my family and I jumped on a cruise to Alaska, even though we hadn't bought tickets. We saw glaciers and polar bears and managed to avoid the ship's security team, which, let me tell you, cannot be done in real life.

Mr. Pink and I were among the youngest adult cruisers on board. There were a few honeymooners, but for the most part, retirees make up most of a cruise's population. No big surprise...cruising is an expensive proposition. When you look at the per-night cost of taking a cruise versus staying in a hotel, cruising looks like a deal, especially in Europe, where the dollar remains weak against the euro. After all, room and board are included in the price! But cruises get you in two ways...the shore excursions and the alcohol. We only took one shore excursion, or organized tour. The rest of the time, we struck out on our own.

The shore excursion to the ancient city of Ephesus was definitely worth the price, but some other excursions seemed overly expensive. For instance, a "Tour Athens on Your Own" package cost $55 per person. But you were touring on your own, so all that really got you was a bus trip back and forth from Piraeus. "Pshaw!" we thought. "Who needs that?" After all, we were with my family, and the Pater Familias speaks Greek. We walked to the train station and took the train to the Acropolis for only a few euros apiece. Of course, as we were boarding the train for the return trip, my mom had her purse snatched, and despite the heroic pursuit of Mr. Pink, the thief escaped. My mom lost about $250, so we were out about the same amount we would have paid for the bus trip. Plus, Mr. Pink injured his already-fragile ankle and had to be doped up with pain pills, so in retrospect, the bus might have been a smarter choice. But how could we have known?

The alcohol was another story. My brothers, the Pater Familias, Mr. Pink and I all enjoy a good cocktail. And on the cruise, we enjoyed several each day. Even my mom indulged in a frozen margarita or a pina colada on occasion. Let me tell you, that adds up fast! And the waiters are all so attentive, arriving ever so discreetly at your elbow to offer you another refreshment just as you've finished the last few drops of your previous beverage. No wonder the cruise lines don't allow you to bring your own alcohol on board...it would cut into their profit margins! I tried to stick to the special "drink of the day," which was $5.50 instead of $7, $8, or even $9, but the costs still mounted. The best deal was wine by the glass, because the waiters and bartenders gave a very generous pour. You know how in a restaurant you order a glass of wine and it's maybe half full? Not so on this cruise. Every time any of us ordered a glass of wine, it came filled almost to the rim. I enjoyed a very pleasant rose for $6.50 a glass. And there's just something about sitting out on the ship's deck, watching the sun set and the land recede as we left port while sipping a glass of rose. Quite civilized. Quite.

There was one other surprising expense that was perhaps not so civilized: bingo. It may sound strange, but I love me some bingo. I have ever since my family spent time up in a ramshackle cabin in Lake County, where a couple of swimming pools, a snack shack, a tiny general store, and nighttime bingo were the amusements on offer. I even went up during high school with some friends, and we amused ourselves to no end by yelling out "And after!" when B-4 was announced. We also sometimes shouted out "And malignant!" after B-9, but not as many people seemed to get that joke.

But I digress. The point is, when I played bingo in my youth, the cards cost maybe a dollar apiece, or maybe five dollars for blackout, when the jackpot was higher. Do you know how much it costs to play bingo on a cruise? Twenty-nine dollars, my friends. That's right...twenty-nine dollars for four measly games. And they didn't even have the good cards with the little windows that you slide shut to cover the numbers! No, the choices were paper punch cards, or an electronic bingo machine (which cost more) that kept track of all the numbers for you. Now, what's the fun of bingo if you don't actually cover up the numbers yourself? Anyway, none of us hit the jackpot, but I did win a lovely Celebrity Cruises visor in a drawing, and my brother Esquire won a very fetching T-shirt (retail price $27.99 in the gift shop).

More about our cruising adventures later. For now, the bottom line is that if you're considering a cruise, go for it. You'll probably have a lot of fun. Just make sure you budget for all the little cruise "extras." My next credit card bill is not going to be pretty. And now that my novel is finished, I need to find a J-O-B. Sigh. No wonder I keep dreaming about being on a cruise.


  • At 8:22 PM, Anonymous cruise ship jobs said…

    Cruising experience is one of the best thing that could ever happen to us. Its one memory that surely we will not forget, the good thing about it though is that we can always go back to take another cruise or something.


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