Cruising: The Tasting Menu of Travel Experiences

Mar 17, 2012 by

I love tasting menus. I like having no choice in what the kitchen sends out, I like the variety of small plates, and let’s face it, most tasting menus are paired with wine. And I love wine.

'Tasting' Price Edward Island on a slow road trip.

In the olden days of I-don’t-care-how-much-this-dinner-costs traveling, my husband and I enjoyed many tasting menu meals, so I know a thing or two about them. They are often expensive. They sometimes include a dud of a dish. They frequently introduce you to something totally unknown–like the ‘olive’ I had at Cafe Atlantico that was made out of olive oil and some sort of chemical that rendered it stable and spherical. And sometimes that one thing–that one new experience–makes up for the cost and the dud.

You obviously know where I’m going with this, as you clearly read the title of this post. And so, my thesis statement is: cruises are a lot like tasting menus.

Please note: as a middle school English teacher, one of my major pet peeves is a thesis statement that begins with ‘my thesis statement is:’

But I digress.

An unusual mix of flavors on one tasting plate.

My point is–sometimes a cruise port might be a dud. Occasionally you’ll have really bad weather in a city you’d really been looking forward to visiting–and you’re only there for nine hours. Maybe the ship couldn’t dock or the tenders couldn’t run or your excursion was canceled. But that’s ok. Because a cruise is like a tasting menu–you go searching for that gelatinous olive oil orb and ignore the overcooked cod to its left.

I’m glad that I went on my last cruise. I was able to visit three different destinations very quickly and decide if I’d ever like to return. The verdict has forever changed my travel plans, as Mexico is now on the list (and Jamaica is not). It was a good experience, and I’ll do it again (possibly soon). But I’ll know what to expect this time.

A cruise, ironically, is not the all-you-can-eat buffet of travel. But that’s ok. You just have to learn to appreciate smaller plates.

Have you cruised to get a ‘taste’ of a destination and then returned for a longer period of time? Or do you shy away from the idea of travel-as-tasting-menu and take only slower, land-based trips? Share your stories in the comments selection below. Thanks for visiting!

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