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It is hard to believe we are more than half a year into this “new” cruise blog and it has been so much fun working with a team of writers. While Chris and I have been “blog brothers” for a long time now, and I have been great friends with ThatGuy (onboard) for years, I am finding we need to expand our contributors.
To that end I would like to welcome Michael Edwards to the blog. Now let’s have a bit of an interview to get to know him and what cruise insights we can expect from him.
Hi Michael. So tell us, how long have you been a cruise fan and are you a Frequent Floater?
Hi René, I’m excited to join you, Chris, and the great writers on Frequent Floaters. I’ve been a longtime reader of René’s Points now Eye of the Flyer and have read every post on Frequent Floaters.
My wife Melanie and I love cruising. We’ve been averaging 25 nights at sea for a number of years now, while both working full-time. One of the reasons that we love cruising so much is that it’s the ultimate reset from our daily lives letting us see the world and recharge our batteries.
I took my first cruise when I was a child with my parents, a 7-day Carnival Caribbean cruise with my family and was instantly hooked. Every morning in port I’d sneak up to the top deck by myself to see the other ships in port – they were all so different and had been to so many places.
My wife Melanie took a bit of coaxing to get her on her first cruise, having grown up about as far away from the ocean as one can in the US – Omaha, but as soon as she set foot on board she too was hooked. Our first cruise together was in the Baltics over the Summer Solstice and the sun never setting over seas like glass was pure magic.
Do you have a favorite cruise line and if so why?
We are unapologetic fans of Oceania Cruises. We took our first cruise with them in 2016 on board Insignia, one of their small R-Class ships, on a sailing from Reykjavik, Iceland to Stockholm, Sweden. It was a fantastic cruise and we fell in love with the food, the service, the décor, and our fellow passengers. By the third day we had already picked out our next cruise and visited the Oceania Club Ambassador to book another cruise on board one of Oceania Cruises’ larger ships – Riviera. That ship sold us on Oceania with everything we loved from Insignia but with two additional specialty restaurants, a culinary school, artist loft, and so much more. Riviera and her sister Marina were commissioned by Oceania Cruises and have more kitchen space per passenger than any ship built before as Oceania is focused on their culinary program. Oceania Cruises says they have The Finest Cuisine at Sea, and so far we haven’t found better on the water.
What is your favorite cruise you have taken so far?
That’s a really difficult question because every cruise has been an amazing adventure. If I had to pick only one, it was probably our first cruise back after the COVID cruise suspension. We were booked to be on Sirena, one of the small R Class ships that accommodate approximately 600 passengers and as part of the return to sail they had only sold 50% of the cabins. About a month before our cruise Oceania Cruises let us know that they were going to swap the 1,200 passenger Marina for Sirena. On the sailing from Lisbon, Portugal to Venice, Italy there were 300 passengers and more than 600 crew members. It was the closest to a mega-yacht charter experience that we’ll likely ever experience.
Have you ever taken a cruise you wish you had not?
No, we’ve never regretted a cruise and I’m not sure that we ever will. A lot of that has to do with our perspective as travelers. We understand what is within our control and what isn’t and don’t sweat the latter. Delayed flights, cancelled ports, no A/C on a tour bus, they’re all part of it and some of the best stories have come out of these mishaps. We’ve also made some great friends on board during the hiccups when comradery among passengers can peak. Every day at sea is an adventure and it’s our job to make the most of each one. I will say there have been some excursions that I regret, but I’ll save those stories for a future post.
What do you love most about cruising?
Viking Chairman Torstein Hagen is featured in their commercials saying that he “believes that time is the only thing you don’t have enough of.” I subscribe to the same belief. Cruising helps us make the most of every precious second of our vacation time. From the moment we set foot on board we don’t have to worry about all those things we do in our daily lives. We unpack once and through the magic of cruising we wake up in a new place every morning.
I’ve been fortunate to visit 55 countries and counting and there’s no way that I could have visited so many at this point in my life, while working more than full-time, without cruising. I know that a lot of people say that cruise passengers don’t get an immersive experience and what we do is just a surfacy hit-and-run form of tourism.
I think about it differently, I think of a cruise as a tasting menu where we get a few perfect bites and then move on to the next course. At the end of the meal there were dishes we loved (and dream about) dishes that we would be glad to never eat again and everything in between. Guess what? Now we know what dishes we want an entrée portion of next time we visit the restaurant. These favorite dishes are the places where we want to spend more time and take a deeper dive either through another cruise (ideally at the beginning or the end of a cruise) or a dedicated trip to one or more of those places.
We are all about deals. What are some of the ways you save when booking a cruise adventure?
I promise that I’ll share detailed explanations of how I manage to keep cruises within our budget as we share our cruise experiences with Frequent Floaters readers. But most basically, we use points and miles to pay for all of our flights, credit card annual free nights for pre and post hotel stays, credit card deals to earn bonus points or cash back on bookings, employing booking strategies to get the lowest cruise fares, and taking advantage of a great travel advisor who gets compensated by the cruise lines to provide us with amazing service and valuable perks.
What is your best piece of advice for those new to cruising?
It’s really simple – give it a try. There’s a style of cruising for everyone whether you want to go to the most remote places on the planet and help conduct scientific research for two weeks or you want a completely relaxed three-days of sun and fruity drinks. There are cruise lines, ships, and itineraries that cater to every type of traveler. A lot of friends think that they’d be bored on a cruise ship but then tell us about an amazing week they spent at an all-inclusive resort hanging out on the beach. We tell them they can have a richer version of that same experience on a ship, but visit a different beach on a different island every day. For those into culture cruising has enabled us to visit some of the world’s greatest museums, dine at amazing restaurants, visit markets filled with delicious local foods and handmade goods. Just get out there and see the world!
Thank you so much Michael for the Q&A and a chance to get to know you and I can not wait to see what you will bring to the blog!
Also thank you readers as there was much question if a cruise dedicated blog would float on BoardingArea and it is looking like full speed ahead and I am excited to see what the next port of call brings us all! – René
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