You’re waiting for the commercials to end so you can go back to watching your favorite television show, as you stare at the screen, suddenly; a roaming gnome from Travelocity appears sitting on a beach somewhere far off on a tropical island. As you lounge on the sofa and watch the gnome watch the tranquil waters lap against the shore, the thought enters your mind, “That looks like an awfully nice vacation.”
After you think about it further…and consider the long flight, customs, resort fee’s and how many people sharing your little piece of paradise would be as quiet and considerate of you as you would be of them…the grandeur of the sunbathing gnome diminishes. Or, maybe there are other deterrents preventing you from considering the “fairy tale vacation” from coming true. Single and can’t find anyone to go with you? Have a family and can’t afford to take all the kids? Either way, there may be an alternative that can offer you the vacation you want in the atmosphere you would enjoy.
Have you ever heard of a Christian vacation?
Well, that’s exactly what Templeton Tours offers on their Singing at Sea Cruise. Now, before you think of too much water and capsizing ships, hear me out! If you can get over the water thing, cruises really have a lot to offer.
The benefits of cruising on Singing at Sea
1 Templeton Tours has chartered the whole ship and closes the bars and casinos. If you’ve been on a “regular cruise” and decided the party life wasn’t your thing, you’ll enjoy the quiet atmosphere on board the Singing at Sea.
2 There are over 25 music groups, at least four preachers and one Christian comedian. If you don’t want to be out in the sun all day, there are plenty of entertainment options. I’ve been on this cruise three times and know for a fact that you can hear singing from morning till evening! One thing I enjoy the most is the preaching, you can spend a week away from home and still be fed the Word by men of God.
3 International travel without long flights and custom hassles. When you leave on this cruise, it will depart from Florida – meaning that you can travel to an international destination without the long flight of getting there. (We let the cruise ship do that while we listen to music and dine on good food!) Also, you have the convenience of leaving from the U.S and returning to it! One thing that has always surprised me on the cruise is how easy customs is when coming back into the U.S. All you do is fill out a form the night before you disembark and have it ready to hand to the customs officer on the way out!
4 International travel – part two! The second reason I think this cruise is the way to travel is because you can visit different places in the world without leaving your comfort zone. You will travel with fellow Christians and if you go on the cruise year to year, see different ports of call. So far, I’ve visited Half Moon Cay, Nassau, Grand Cayman and Mexico on this cruise. In 2017, Lord willing, I’ll add Coco Cay to that list! I’m a firm believer that this cruise will take you everywhere if you stick with it! So if you love to travel, you might want to consider making this an annual thing!
5 Have kids? Then you’re in luck! On Singing at Sea, kids 15 years old and younger sail free when rooming with two full-paying adults. You can take your family with you without breaking the bank!
6 Another benefit to this cruise is the all-inclusive price. Unlike a resort, where you’ll have added fees almost daily, Templeton Tours has arranged their cruise to include all tips and gratuities in your package. When you add it up, the price of a cruise like this is the same or cheaper than what it would cost to rent a hotel and pay for meals on any other vacation you’ll take. Plus, you get access to unlimited entertainment, hot tub and pool area for no extra charge. Not bad, eh?
7 It’s quiet. The year I went on my first cruise some friends of mine went on a regular Carnival Cruise around the same time. When they came back they said it was awful – the kids were noisy and there wasn’t any place they could go that wasn’t loud. Not their idea of a peaceful, relaxing week on the big blue sea! But that wasn’t my experience on the Singing at Sea Cruise. This cruise is quiet. Many mornings I’ll walk on deck and see folks leaning back on a lounge, reading their Bible. ß That is the kind of experience you’ll have on this trip.
8 Let’s talk food! On Singing at Sea, you are assigned a table in the dining room for the evening meal. This is a great place for sampling gourmet food. In the evenings, each meal consists of three courses (starter, main dish and dessert). The food is delicious!
Frequently Asked Questions
When considering a cruise, there are some Frequently Asked Questions that come with sailing the seas…even if it is to tropical islands! I’ve tried my best to answer some of those below, but be free to add yours to the comments and I’ll answer them to the best of my ability!
1 What if I get sea-sick? Unless you know for certain that motion really bothers you, don’t let the thought of sea-sickness stop you from going. Everyone’s body is different, but here are a few ideas to get you started in case you fear suffering from sea-sickness.
Medicine to pack with you: Try the motion sickness bands that attach to your wrists like bracelets. (My sister uses these and they work great for her!) I know they’re not “medicine,” but they are something you would need to bring with you on the cruise. You can also try the patch that sticks behind your ear or one of the chewable pills you can purchase over the counter at your local Pharmacy.
Natural Remedies: First, stay well fed! Most people are fine as long as they eat a lot. Another great trick is eating one apple each day – the apple will help naturalize the enzymes in your stomach and keep you well. You can always find apples in the buffet area on deck during breakfast time, if not all day. Ginger Ale will also help keep your stomach settled if you run into trouble and can be purchased pretty much anywhere on board, anytime. Ginger has been used for ages when it comes to motion sickness and is a powerful natural remedy!
2 What do I wear? Dress on the Singing at Sea is pretty casual. During the day, a nice T-shirt and shorts/capris are appropriate. (Unless you’re heading to the pool or hot tub, then you can be sure to feel comfortable in your swim suit!) For dinner, you can change into something nicer or stay in the same clothes – the dining room just requests that swim suits, shorts and tank tops not be worn in the dining area in the evening. One evening they’ll have “gala night,” and then you’re free to dress up or wear an outfit that they call “church best.” Some folks like to dress up in formal wear and have their portraits taken with the different backdrops available from one of the many ship photographers. Also, if you like to be on deck at night, bring a light jacket or sweater – it can get chilly up there sometimes!
3 If I fly, what time should I book my flight back home after the cruise? On this cruise, it has always been my experience to book a flight after 12:00 pm (noon). With Templeton moving the cruise from Carnival to Royal Caribbean for 2017, there’s a possibility that may change; but previous years I have always been discouraged to book a flight before noon.
4 Do I need a host group? Each artist, preacher and comedian on the cruise is a “host.” When you make your reservation, you can request a group (like the Whisnants or the Mark Trammell Quartet) to be your “host group.” Having a host group will include these perks – you will be seated with or near the group in the dining room, many of the groups will host a special concert just for the people who signed up with them and you may even receive a special gift from them. I’ve seen groups give people T-shirts, tote bags, water bottles and special discounts on their CD’s. If you choose a host group, you most definitely will get something extra! It also helps the artists – if they bring a lot of people, they get to bring their wives and families with them for no extra cost. I would encourage you to support a group and pick them as your host!
5 Are ports like Cozumel and Nassau dangerous? The first time I went to Nassau, the loud speakers on the ship announced a crime advisory for the city before they let people off. This was repeated the last two years when we stopped in Cozumel as well. That said, I have never felt unsafe in either place or been in a situation that would make me not get off the ship next time. The basic thing is this, don’t wear expensive jewelry or take valuable items off the ship. If you have a nice camera, you should be okay. People everywhere will be walking around with a digital SLR or GoPro, so it wouldn’t make you a target for theft if you take yours off the ship. If you’re worried about safety but really do want to get off the ship, go on a shore excursion. You will have a guide who is responsible for getting you to and from the ship safely, you’ll be in a group with plenty of other people and will be in areas that are tourist friendly. If you’re venturing out yourself, just stay in touristy areas and don’t stray off the beaten path. If you get online and read bad reviews, you’ll notice that they come from people who fly to the island to stay for a week. The great thing about a cruise is that you get off the ship, walk around, return to the ship in a few hours and then the ship leaves port. You really aren’t in port long enough for something bad to happen – another great reason to go on a cruise! They’re really the safest thing out there!
6 Should I rent a moped on the island? By all means, NO! I’ve never done it myself, but I have yet to find a good source that recommends it. Here are the reasons – you don’t know the laws of the land and how people drive, so it’s really easy to get into an accident. In places like Grand Cayman and Nassau, everyone drives on the opposite side of the road (compared to the U.S.) – another accident waiting to happen if you’re not experienced at that! Also, people kind of drive crazy down there, and mopeds can’t accelerate as fast as a car, cutting down your ability to avoid another car in a confusing situation. Even the cruise ships don’t recommend you driving mopeds on the islands! Be safe and take a taxi, bus or do it the good old fashioned way and walk.
7 What if the ship sinks? Preparing for my first cruise, this thought crossed my mind. I went and had a blast, so I really hope the idea of the Titanic won’t keep you from enjoying a great week on the water! The 2017 Singing at Sea itinerary is to the Bahamas – Coco Cay and Nassau. Nassau is only 131 miles from Florida and the distance between the two islands is only 80 miles. When you think about it that way, we’re really not even that far away from the U.S. If you’re still not sure, I’ll leave you with the words of Susan Whisnant. This year on the cruise I heard her say, “With all the ministers and singers on board I feel safe on this cruise – there’s no way God would be done with all of us at the same time!” (Wise words, I think!)
There are so many more recommendations I could give for the Singing at Sea Cruise, but in closing, I want it to speak for itself. Below, I have given an excerpt and link to three reviews from my previous cruises. These posts will give you an in-depth look into what a day is like on the Singing at Sea. They are some of my favorite memories! Enjoy!
“When Thursday morning dawned we were anchored at Nassau. The Fascination docked early because at 9 AM the intercoms in the hall were announcing that you could begin disembarking. Me? I was trying out room service for the very first time! Hey, when you’re on a cruise, you gotta’ try it at least once! *wink* Our first adventure of the day was the famous “Straw Market” where, “Dare be no charge for touchin’ taday!” and “Here purty lady, I give you a deal!” was heard in every stall. The Straw Market was fun to go through and thanks to our friends, Stan and Esther; we didn’t have to brave it for the first time alone! Each row was jammed with all types of souvenirs…T-Shirts, bracelets, wood carved animals, tote bags, hats, you name it – they sold it.”
Continue reading —> Home of Blackbeard
“Alongside us, a lady in a kayak paddled very close to the ship and hollered, “Where y’all going?” A few folks on the deck below bellowed, “Cozumel!” I guess that was their most anticipated port! LOL Me? I was looking forward to both of the ports we would visit – George Town in the Grand Caymans and the island of Cozumel, belonging to Mexico. I never thought traveling overseas, or more appropriately, on the seas, would be a title I could claim. Yet, it is! However, I don’t think the title world traveler would be half as much fun if it weren’t spent with other Believers. Templeton Tours charters the whole ship and closes the bars and casinos, which gives the trip a unique environment!”
Continue reading —> “Where Y’all Going?”
“At the back of the ship I walked through the sliding glass doors out to the back deck. Grey clouds hung in the sky, but through a tiny opening the sun peeked through as it ascended into the sky. After snapping many photographs, I pulled up a chair and just sat watching the glory unfold. It wasn’t the glorious pink and orange sunrise I had envisioned – the clouds kind of kept that from happening – but it was still beautiful in its own way. The contrast between the dark clouds and the bright rays of sunlight were amazing! As the sun reached a higher altitude, beams of light surged from behind the clouds onto the water. The shining beams of light glistened on the sea and I’m telling you, instead of the deep blue of the previous morning, the water almost looked gold.”
Continue reading —> The British West Indies