Our favorite Hallmark holiday is nearly upon us. Let's take a moment to ponder the ten most romantic things about a cruise.
1. The sea. Needless to say. But let's. There just isn't anything else like living on a ship for a week. The gentle rocking, the heaving, the undulating waves lifting the ship up and down. It's an erotic metaphor waiting to happen. As the sea swells grow, it's the prefect excuse to hold hands, snuggle close, and generally keep each other anchored.
2. The traditions. As outdated as they may seem -- I prefer the word retro -- there are long-standing cruise rituals that transport you back to the heady days of Frank Sinatra and Lauren Bacall. Take the captain's cocktail party. It's a reason to get all dressed up and pretty, and have a chance to meet the master, shake his hand and have a photo taken on the way into a snazzy night club where trays of champagne and cocktails await.
3. The secret hideaways. Explore a little. Quiet lounges, lost corners of sun decks, the outdoor promenade at night. Hop in the bow sprit netting of the Windjammer ships (while they're moving) and feel the spray of the sea on your skin. Wander out to the very front of the foredeck on the QM2 or Holland America's Statendam class ships and make like Leo and Kate.
4. The food. Nothing like a fine meal and good wine to stimulate the senses. The setting helps too; take the outdoor restaurant above the ships' wake on the Seabourn trio or the Valentine-red velvet banquettes in the QM2's Todd English restaurant. On Windstar's Wind Spirit and Wind Star, it's the room service menu that titillates. A specially designed Romance Dinner stokes the embers of desire with flirty descriptions and aphrodisiacal ingredients. Read in between the lines of the Prelude of Spicy Grilled Shrimp on a Pillow of Avocado Embraced with Garlic and Coriander (the Aztecs called the avocado trees the testicle tree and coriander's believed to make women euphoric). Make sure he orders the Salmon Filet with a Whisper of Herb and Garlic Butter, Snuggled in a Pastry Sheet and Laid over Forbidden Rice and Carrot Circle (carrots are thought to be a stimulant for men and a seduction aid).
5. The ports. Some are more romantic than others. Nassau, Port Klang and Saint John may not be. The Greek Isles definitely are. Sail up to small islands of white-washed villages, winding roads and seaside tavernas aboard sexy ships like the 110-passenger SeaDream twins or the similarly sized Windstar tall ships and pretend you've come for a visit on your own private yacht.
6. The spa. Essential oils, firm strokes and new age-y music all go a long way in getting you back in touch with your inner exhibitionist. One better: a couple's massage (the two of you getting massaged in the same room) gives a whole new meaning to togetherness.
7. The starry night sky. Hop aboard a Windjammer Barefoot, Windstar or Star Clippers tall ship and drink up the moody night sky as you cuddle under the rigging, splay out on deck chairs or sip frosty margaritas at an open-air bar. Even on a mega ship, search out a quiet corner of a top deck to feel the wind in your hair and the fire in your hearts.
8. The cozy cabins. Pretend your stowaways, all snug and content in your stateroom. Even in the smallest cabins, you'll find everything you need at arm's length. Including each other.
9. The breakfast in bed. The knock at the door, the snazzy waiter carefully carrying a softly clinking tray into the room as the ship pushes through the waves. The starched white napkins, the silverware (if you're lucky), the steaming pot of coffee, the buttery croissants. The two of you in robes. The waves swooshing just outside your window. Better yet, just beyond your balcony railing.
10. The isolation. Big or small, Vegas-style or yacht-y, there's no mistaking where you are when you're on a ship. In the middle of nowhere. With land hundreds of miles away and the sea floor maybe thousands of feet below, you and your beloved are truly adrift in a sea of seclusion. Being so far from the real world is a liberating, intoxicating thing.
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