Miss Bee’s Bolivar Buzz

Shannon WilliamsBy Shannon Williams
It has been so nice to see the Cruise Ships back at the Port of Galveston!! I have a long love affair with cruising. I love to cruise, read about cruising, planning the cruise and most of all BEING ON A CRUISE! I had big plans for 2020 and had all sorts of tickets brought, I was very lucky as I got refunds or new tickets for 2021 for all of my events. I did not have a cruise booked when COVID hit, so have not had to deal with cancellations and trying to get money back. I am so ready to go ahead, but am going to give it a little more time. I have always felt very safe on a cruise and with as much as the industry as a whole has been under the microscope, I feel that they have done so much to make sure everyone is safe.

I come by my love of cruising from my family. My Mom and Dad met as a blind date, and they attended a BON VOYAGE party for a ship my father was sailing on from San Francisco to Hawaii. My father’s family was in the lumber and paper business and had some business in Hawaii, my father would spend summers in Hawaii and work there for the family. So, my dad needed a date for the Bon Voyage party the night before. From the stories they tell the parties were all the rage and a great time for all, so Mom was glad to get to go to one. It appears that the party was lots of fun, as they married a year or two later and often stated that after the first date they were not apart but to return to family from college in San Francisco.

My first cruse was in 1987 for my Honeymoon and it was aboard a Windjammer sailing cruise, on a ship called the Fantome. We flew to the Caribbean to board the ship and spent the next week going island to island on a sailing ship. You had bunk beds in your cabin and the bathroom was very small, in fact the shower was the bathroom; you just closed your door and the bathroom was the shower! Meals were served family style and at night we would sleep on deck under the stars. It was a wonderful trip, and the first time I went to St. Barts, which is one of my favorite places in the Caribbean. For each stop the Captain would give you tips on how to spend the day; there were no organized and overpriced shore excursions, you just discovered each island on your own. In St. Barts we went to a local deli the captain has suggested and got bread and chesses and sweet treats and off to the beach for a picnic and some swimming.

The Fantome was lost at sea in 1998, during hurricane Mitch. They decided to try and out run the storm and the ship went out to sea and was never seen or heard from again. I took it as a sign as my marriage was falling apart at that time, and when I found out that the Fantome had been lost at sea, I related as my marriage was sinking.

My next cruise was for my son’s 5th Birthday, we went to Disney World and then took a short 3 day cruise on “The Big RED Boat.” It was before Disney had their own ships and it was in 1996 and the Big Red Boat had seen better days back then. I think it was the Oceanic Line. It was a fun cruise and the best part was Bugs Bunny coming and tucking my son in for his birthday; they brushed their teeth and said their prayers, read a story and he got a picture and a special pillow case from Bugs. It is one of my most precious memories.

As the century changed, I was turning 40 and had just gone through a divorce, and my parents thought a “Sea Journey” was just what I needed. They had been cruising for several years with the retired officer golfing group on the Crystal Cruise Line. It was definitely not a windjammer or the Big Red Boat! The Crystal Cruise Line is primarily for old folks and it is geared towards great service and lots of neat places to travel and learn about. I did not mind at all, I was a single mother and at that time overseeing 23 mental health centers in West Texas. I loved the laid back atmosphere and being waited on for any need I might have.

For the next ten years, my parents took me and my younger sister on a cruise every year. We did crossing several times, which are my favorite, it is just you and sea!! I went through the Panama Canal, which is a trip all should take, just to see how it all works; it just mind blowing. My mother’s family is from Portugal, so we traveled to Portugal several times, it is such a neat country. Sitting in a small café in the county side of Portugal, I had some of the best conversations with my father. I was so lucky to get this time with them during those years. We also went as a family to Alaska for my parents 50th anniversary.

I like to take a cruise a year if possible, my husband has gone once but it is not his cup of tea, so I often go and visit places and then we go later and spend a week. We did this with Grand Cayman and I Love both ways, spending a week on an island or doing a one day stop while on a cruise. I have several friends and a cousin who love to cruise so they are my traveling companions now. My husband has agreed to cruise to Alaska which we hope to do with my son in 2023, which will be both ours and my son’s 10th wedding anniversary.

To me, a cruise to the best way to totally “check out.” I try my best not to check my email and leave my phone in the cabin. I love to read as I sit out on the deck and then have an ice cream every day, just because you can. I have traveled on most of the major lines, Royal Caribbean, Princess, Carnival and Celebrity. I love them all, they each have things that are special just to them. I hope to take my grandson on a Disney cruise one day.

If I cannot sleep or need to think positive thoughts, my mind goes to a cruise, one I have taken or one I want to take. I am so glad to see them back and have loved reading about them all and am happy for each person that goes on one. I will get my Alaska trip planned but will fit one in before that, it has just been too long since I was on a ship and cruising is just a wonderful part of life. So if you have not been on a cruise try one, if you have, I hope you get to go as soon as you can !


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