It's Better Than Good; It's Grand

In the fall the birds fly south. In the spring they fly north. In June, everywhere you look someone is packing up and going off on vacation and the kids are counting down the days until their own long vacation starts. Remember those long, hazy days when the promise of summer was so bright you couldn't even think about it, much less look at it? I think we deserve some of that right now. It's time to plan for a real vacation. None of this long weekend stuff, I'm even scoffing at the idea of a two-week vacation. I'm talking about the 105 - 108 day 2006 Grand World Voyage on Holland America called the Circle of the Sun.

Those of you who are ready for a real he-man/she-woman's vacation can skip this paragraph. It's written for the workaholics who think you need to go into the office more than once every four months. I know what you "workies" are thinking so just stop for a minute. You think you can't possibly leave your business for that long and still have it running when you get back. Think again, this is the 21st century, not the eighteenth. Holland America's ships are fitted with wireless internet cafes and you do have a cell phone, right? If you really think about it the chances are good that this will work for you. If it absolutely, hand to your heart, gun to your head, doesn't fit your obsessive lifestyle then you should take one of the smaller legs of the voyage lasting from 14 to a mere 91 days. Isn't that funny? I love the idea that someone could arrange for a 91-day cruise but then can't quite make the entire 103-day commitment.

What's so great about this cruise? What are you going to be doing for months? I am so very glad you asked. Of course there will be so much frolicking and frivolity that every serious bone in your body will need to be replaced with a funny bone but there will also be Scientific Events of Great Worth like a spectacular solar eclipse. Holland America knows how important matters of intellectual inquiry are so they will make sure you are in the very best place on Earth to view said eclipse. You'll get to go to Antarctica but not land there because you don't want to disrupt the delicate ecological balance do you? I didn't think so. You'll sail seven seas including the Laccadive Sea. You'll explore a whole bunch of rivers, canals and straits. You'll see all kinds of interesting and exciting new cultures and peoples. You'll actually be glowing with new knowledge when you get home. You won't need any lights in your house at all. (This is not a guarantee.)

The ship stops overnight in several ports including Rio, Buenos Aires, Mombasa and Cape Town so you have time to explore the land a little. It's also going to sail down the Amazon and through the Suez Canal and visit Alexandria, Egypt. (Note, the library burned down quite a while ago so don't expect to be able to check out any ancient texts to while away the remainder of your voyage.) You'll also visit Devil's Island in French Guyana. This is being billed as one of the world's most interesting places. It certainly has an intriguing name and by intriguing I mean frightening. Speaking of frightening I should warn you that the Holland America people sent me yet another email about the marvelous once in a lifetime opportunity as I was writing this column! They could be mind readers. I'm just saying. They wanted to warn you that time is running out and you should book now to get special fancy incentives. They also say that because the ship has "recent Signature of Excellence® upgrades, you will discover luxury at every turn." That certainly sounds intriguing.

You know how these cruise lines love to brag about their food? This particular cruise promises that they will never repeat a menu throughout the entire voyage. Can you believe that? Gone are the days of hardtack and limes I guess. Instead, if you absolutely love your meal that's just too bad because you won't get it again no matter how much you beg and plead. I suppose maybe if you partake of the magnificence of the Grand Voyage for 2007 you might get the same meal, but I promise nothing.

You might be wondering if you are going to be comfortable during a trip of this length. The ship, called ms Prinsendam, is reputed to have ocean views or verandahs for more than 93% of her staterooms. Your homework for the week is finding out just what exactly you see when you look outside of the remaining staterooms. It could be anything! When I look at the pdf file that travel agents get it surely does look like the cabins staterooms are big enough for you to play golf right then and there. As long as your roommate has good aim it should be good times for all. Holland America is also promising pillow gifts. I have no idea what this means but they say they represent the ports visited and the "world cruising experience" so sign me up. It sounds like it will be even better than chocolate.

Of course this cruise has all the usual cruise amenities, traditional stage shows as well as comedy, a fitness center, a disco, that fancy massage with the hot rocks, swimming, as well as golf lessons, which are apparently only offered on ms Prinsendam. There is also a library and a card room as well as art auctions and shopping. Did I mention the casino? Or Club HAL, which is designed for kids ages 5 - 12? They get to do stuff like go on scavenger hunts and play miniature golf. Of course there is also a cinema since we can't do without our movies. Why am I still writing and why are you still reading? Shouldn't we be booking our trips right about now?