I will be aboard a ship heading for the Caribbean. I have to ask myself why, after 3 years of living in Hawaii, I'm going on a tropical vacation instead of doing something I've never done before.

I've been to warm places in the winter. I've lived the island lifestyle. So why go back to the tropics just a little over a year since I left them?

I dunno. Seemed like the thing to do at the time. 🙂

This will only be my second cruise, and I'm ambivalent. The first one was okay, nothing spectacular. You're onboard a floating hotel with a couple-thousand other people. You eat, sleep, drink, and breathe the unique atmosphere that a cruise experience provides. This isn't authentic travel, like driving across a foreign country alone or backpacking through Europe. This is luxury travel, no matter whether you have the cheapest room in the belly of the ship or the penthouse. You are taken care of, catered to. I'm not sure I enjoy that non-stop for a week. (Weird huh?)

So I'm trying it again, just to see how I feel this time. I thought about swearing off cruising the last time, but that wasn't fair. This is the second chance, though I doubt the cruise industry will miss me if I decide I prefer a different mode of travel, one that allows me to explore a country rather than float into and out of it without experiencing the authenticity of the place.

Are there any vacation experiences you prefer? If you've cruised, do you like it or are you ambivalent like me? (Oh, I will enjoy myself — last time, we tried to do too much; this time we're vegging by the pool with books and umbrella drinks, which should help a lot.) What's the one must-have item you take with you when you travel?