- by Charlotte Hubbard
When you read this, I will be on board the Celebrity Infinity (not pictured here), enjoying the final few days of a 15-day Panama Canal cruise! Operative word here is enjoying, as I love to cruise. This is how we’re celebrating anniversary #35 (so, see? We deserve this trip!) and while I’m really psyched about the full transit of the Canal and the other ports/shore excursions, it’s the seven days at sea, interspersed between ports, I’m really looking forward to.
Now, what’s this trip have to do with writing? More than you might think! Each time I cruise, I decide on people or places on board I want to check out up-close-and-personal, and I’ve learned to take along a few copies of my books (yes, they check you out for security reasons, to validate that you’re an author and not a terrorist…I so resemble a terrorist!) and ask the appropriate director on board for escorts to these areas, with personal tours. My Aphrodisia book, All Night Long, is set aboard a ship, and I have upcoming titles that include onboard romances, so everything I do and see on these trips is fodder for stories.
On earlier trips, I’ve toured the hospitals, the jails, the morgues (an oversized fridge with drawers) the laundry, the room where the surveillance cams are monitored–and I’ve visited the quarters and bridge of every captain I’ve ever sailed with, at his personal invitation, after he learned an author was on his ship). It truly amazes me, how these buff foreign guys in white uniforms love to show you around if you just ASK!
I hope to talk with any full-time residents aboard the ship–yes, because it’s a fascinating thing to me, that real people really do live the cruise ship life full-time. But also because given the right conditions, I could live that life in a heartbeat! And, because an upcoming book features a hero who’s in charge of security/surveillance in a Vegas casino, I plan to go behind the scenes in the ship’s casino with someone on the security staff to see what they watch for, what their equipment looks like, and to drink in any anecdotes they might tell…and you KNOW they have some!
We’ll also have access to some fascinating classes–like learning to navigate by the stars, the way ancient mariners did. And tai chi, gotta take that one. And cooking and wine-tasting and maybe even a Rosetta Stone foreign language class.
But mostly I look forward to finding a deck chair in the shade, or on our room’s verandah, and losing myself in a good book. I do that so rarely anymore–and isn’t that a shame? And I’ll have my iPad along, with the keyboard, because I’ve started journaling on it! And I might start my next book–and I might not! And I’ll spend a lot of time gazing over the rail at the wake the ship makes because that swirling water and foam absolutely mesmerizes me…yeah, I’m a cheap date and I’m easily entertained! And I’ll totally enjoy ordering from menus with NO PRICES on them, and trying foods I don’t cook at home.
So, while you’re reading this I’ll be doing any of those things, above, or something even more fascinating than I can imagine right now. And I’ll be able to respond to any comments or questions you might have, via my iPad! So let me hear from you!