We have saved most of these cards from all our sailings and there is a story that goes with each one. Join us as we begin what will be a long-running series detailing what was going on with us and the world as we sailed inside cruise vacations, featured on our Pinterest board.
Our first Carnival cruise was on Carnival Fascination sailing from Miami to Key West and Cozumel. By the end of the first day, we all agreed that it was the best vacation ever and there has been no looking back since. Sailing just before the 9/11/2001 terrorist attack that would cause major changes in how we would travel, this makes for a good place to start.
I was in the newspaper business at the time and Lisa was in the education department of a local hospital while Sydney and Whitney were in high school. At the time, we had no idea if we would like a Carnival cruise or not. In order to have some assurance that the experience would go well, we booked what was then called a Category 12 Penthouse Suite, one of the few on the ship that had a balcony. The thought was that if the ship were full of boring old people or crazed drunkards, we would have some place to escape to.
What we found were a whole lot of people like us, some older people and some crazed drunks but about the same mix as we might have encountered at a local theme park or attraction at our then home in Kansas. In fact, by the end of the first day we all agreed it was the best vacation ever. By the end of the very short 5 day sailing, the only thing we regretted was that it had not lasted longer.
When we got home, the first order of business was booking the next cruise, this time on the Carnival Victory for the upcoming December holidays that same year. Little did we know that just a few days later, the terrorist attack of 09-11-2001 would happen and change the course of the travel industry forever.
While tragic, the event did not stop the hunger for travel we had gained from that Carnival Fascination cruise. In the next few months, we launched our first website, LifeIsCruisng.com, the title taken from what was then my name on the Cruise Critic message boards where I had joined as a Charter Member and started sharing our experiences with others. I also started a little travel business on the side, mainly to get a handle on what looked to be the next big interest for our family and this one was a focus everybody agreed on.
Previous obsessions included raising and showing Bernese Mountain Dogs where everyone had their role. Much like cheerleading had taken over every waking minute of our lives, a focus on dogs was seen as a safe addiction that often got expensive.
On a rational level, the thought was to keep Sydney and Whitney as busy as possible during high school years in an attempt to keep them alive. That worked. They both lived. Never mind that Sydney currently jumps out of airplanes for a living now and Whitney seems to be flying in them all over the world in her job. Extreme focus on cheerleading, dogs and an instant obsession with cruise vacations worked.
On a real level, I was living out life as I had been raised: to find something you like and make it life (thus “LifeIsCruising).
I remember as a teen, my father took up golf late in life and it became what we did. We joined a local country club, took daily golf lessons (who even does that?) and actually became pretty good at it.
Until my father discovered flying. Then we bought a plane, all took flying lessons and all learned how to fly. We were “pretty good” at that too, only pausing briefly to re-evaluate the situation when a flight to Las Vegas, Nevada wound up in Las Vegas, New Mexico due to a slight error on the part of the navigator (me) that resulted in us landing on only fumes. The airplane did not get much use after that.
So, sailing it was and we bought a 15 foot Glastron Alpha sailboat to sail on a local lake which I suppose was my first experience with sailing for pleasure. That focus ended when we got caught in a thunderstorm in the middle of the lake, broke the centerboard and lost a sail. I was just really sure we would be dying that day. We did not die but that was the end of sailing.
Fast forward to a young family in a nice suburban neighborhood where the schools were good but the plastic people who lived there were far from what we wanted our kids to emulate and Carnival Cruise Line came along at just the right time. I remember writing then President Bob Dickinson a letter (as in paper and pen and stamp) with a return address and signed “Happy Camper”, telling what great fun we had. Later we would exchange emails off and on over the years, still titled “Happy Camper”, consistently ranking Carnival ships highly as well as the crew and ports of call we visited.
Later, Carnival Fascination would move to Jacksonville, and undego Carnival’s Evolutions of Fun upgrade, adding a lot more features to the ship.
“Our Jacksonville-based cruises are a great option for those seeking a convenient, high quality vacation at a tremendous value and these new features will enhance the Carnival Fascination’s already strong appeal with consumers,” Gerry Cahill, Carnival’s new president and CEO told the Orlando Sentinel at the time.
Of particular interest in this renovation was the addition of 98 balcony staterooms, a cabin category in high demand and short supply on Fascination. Now, many more first-time Carnival cruisers could have a balcony to escape to if they were scared of old people and boozers…at least until they figured out that those people were not really the name of the game.
I swore to myself that I would not make these posts for each pin, representing each cruise, any longer than 500 words but here we have already doubled that.
More on 2001
How Much things cost in 2001
- Average Cost of new house $136,150.0.
- Average Median Income $42,350.00
- Average Monthly Rent $715.00
- Cost of a gallon of Gas $1.46
- Average cost of new car $25,850.00
- US Postage Stamp 34 cents
- 1 LB of Bacon $3.22
- Ground Coffee per IB $3.06
- Loaf of Bread $1.82
- Dozen Eggs 90 cents
Events in 2001
- The legendary racing driver Dale Earnhardt who had won a record seven Nascar championships dies in a last-lap crash during the Daytona 500 at Daytona International Speedway
- The Leaning Tower of Pisa reopens after 11 years repairs to stop it falling over
- Napster is closed down by court order following an injunction on behalf of the Recording Industry Association of America (RIAA),
- Apple Computer releases the iPod.
- Microsoft releases Windows XP
- An earthquake hits Gujarat, India, causing more than 20,000 deaths
- Timothy James McVeigh is executed for the Oklahoma City Bombing.
- 2001 becomes known as “Summer of the Shark” after a number of shark attack fatalities.
- Known simply as 9/11. On September 11, 2001 Nineteen hijackers simultaneously took control of four U.S. domestic commercial airliners, crashed two planes into the World Trade Center in Manhattan, New York City one into each of the two tallest towers causing both to collapse. The hijackers crashed the third aircraft into the U.S. Department of Defense headquarters, the Pentagon, in Arlington County, Virginia. The fourth plane crashed into a rural field in Somerset County, Pennsylvania, following apparent passenger resistance.
- The United States invades Afghanistan, with some participation from the UK. Marking the beginning of the US “War on Terrorism” campaign. Seeking to oust the Taliban and find Al-Qaeda mastermind Osama bin Laden
I’m pretty sure it was commercials like this one from 1988 that planted the seed to try a Carnival cruise some day-
Drop by our Pinterest board for more as we post them in weeks to come.
- Cruise line hits 40 and we look back (chriscruises.net)
- Carnival Cruise ship rolls into NYC with added ‘Fun Ship 2.0’ enhancements (cruiseradio.net)
- Carnival Miracle begins cruise season from New York City today (cruiseradio.net)
- First look: Carnival Breeze under construction (chriscruises.net)
- Escape Completely with a discount, a catch and confidence (chriscruises.net)