TRO is proud to introduce a new column this week: “Deck Plans”. Travel writer Ralph Grizzle began his journalistic career at the age of 32, following the conclusion of what he calls his “sabbatical decade.” From 1980 through 1990, Ralph bicycled across America, pedaled through Europe and island-hopped the South Pacific. After backpacking through Bali, bussing through Java, hopping a boat to Singapore and crossing Malaysia to Thailand, Ralph flew into Burma, tramped to Dhaka and endured a 32-hour train ride from calamitous Calcutta to bustling Bombay. From there, he hopped a plane for Greece and traveled to Switzerland before returning home, where he settled, quite naturally, into a career of travel writing.
A graduate of the University of North Carolina’s School of Journalism, Ralph is an award-winning writer and publisher, specializing in cruises and destinations that cruise ships touch. His goal is to help consumers make informed cruise vacation choices through writing, research and rich media that is personal and passionate, inspiring and informative.Ever the peripatetic wanderer, Ralph makes his home in Asheville, North Carolina, and Helsingborg, Sweden, but more often than not, he can be found at sea.
Please join us in welcoming Ralph Grizzle to TRO and Deck Plans.
“So do you have the best job in the world?” The question was asked by a waitress last night in Toscana, the reservations-only restaurant on Oceania Cruises’ Regatta. I was there to photograph a few of the dishes, as I have done on many of the 200-plus cruises I’ve been on during the last two decades as a travel writer/photographer.
I always feel inclined to tell people that I am “on assignment” and not just some potentially weird guy traveling alone. It’s a strange introduction, I know, but I feel so privileged to do what I do for a living that I am almost embarrassed by it. Essentially, for the past 20 years, I have been paid to do something extraordinary: take vacations.
I’m sure there are some who would flaunt that salient fact. Look at me, travel writer, cruising for free. Nanny, nanny, boo, boo. I, on the other hand, often come across as a martyr. “Yes, I have to do another luxury cruise.” And then to make people really feel sorry for me, “I’ll probably put on another five pounds with all the champagne and caviar they throw at me.” The sympathetic among those listening feign a nod of exaggerated acknowledgement.
Back on Regatta, I had explained to the waitress why I was photographing every dish she placed before me. My message to her was intended to be, “I’m just like you, working on a cruise ship.” And, in fact, that is exactly what I do. I interview, research, write, photograph and produce video probably 90 percent of my waking hours on a cruise. It’s not exactly a vacation, but it’s not a bad office, either.
The motivation for doing all of this began as a selfish one. As a young traveler, I plotted a way to see the world. And so I obtained a journalism degree from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill and spent five years writing for a travel trade publication. With a business partner and friend, I launched Cruise Week, still going strong today, and spent more than 12 years as a travel columnist for United Airlines’ in-flight magazine. I spent time as editor of Porthole Cruise Magazine, and finally, just a few years ago launched my own brand, The Avid Cruiser.
My journalistic goal throughout all those years was a simple one: to create content that helps people make informed vacation decisions. And indeed that is my mission with this new column: to continue to inform — and let’s face it, to keep me avidly cruising.
In the coming months, you can look to this space for stories that will help you better understand cruise companies and ships, itineraries and destinations. Please write to me if you have questions that I can help with. I’m like that waitress back on Regatta, here to serve, because, of course, I’m not cruising for fun (wink, wink). I’m “on assignment.”
Visit Ralph’s web site, www.avidcruiser.com, to contact him and for additional articles about cruising.