Out here on the Ionian Sea, the chill of an October evening causes me to head back to my stateroom to grab a sweater. I am sailing on Seabourn Sojourn as the ultra-luxury vessel makes its way towards the Greek island of Crete. This is her last Mediterranean voyage for the season. When our voyage ends on Sunday, Sojourn begins a long trek to Asia. Her sisters, Odyssey and Quest, have made their way back across the Atlantic to operate cruises in warmer climates. The European cruise season has come to an end for Seabourn, and here on Sojourn in the Med, we are sucking up the last of the warm weather and Europe’s gorgeous scenery.
On deck five, starboard side, I step out to admire the shimmering moonlight on a gently rolling sea. I take time to reflect on the blessed life I have lived — and am living. I should say that it’s not a life that was handed to me: I earned it. By age 20, I had already spent 10 years logging with my father. Yes, you read that right: My father started me working in the woods when I was 10 years old. By age 12, I could command a log skidder, a tractor-like vehicle that hauls trees out of the woods. By age 15, I could fell a tree with a chain saw. By age 20, I had had enough, and to leave it all behind, I pedaled out of town on a bicycle. Spinning became a metaphor for my life, setting me in motion for the next 30-plus years.
My passport for adventure was a journalism degree from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, which I obtained when I was 32. That degree, and a job for a travel magazine, allowed me to see the world, documenting what I was experiencing for readers. In 1995, I launched my own publications, Cruise Week, then a year later, Cruise Observer, and a few years after that Avid Cruiser, which was a magazine for a few years before I went all digital (meaning on the web) in 2007.
Increasingly, my content took the form of video. Our video featuring Antarctica on Seabourn Quest won an award this year from Travel Weekly, a trade publication. Avid Cruiser videos are now featured on Seabourn’s home page. “We chose this cruise because of your videos,” a guest told me earlier today on Seabourn Sojourn. A doctor from South Florida, Jeff is an avid cruiser himself, traveling with his wife and often with his extended family. As we sat on the pool deck sipping orange juice and water (doctor’s orders!), Jeff said he particularly liked the videos because they were void of hyperbole. In essence, he was saying that they were credible. That made me proud. I told Jeff that my goal was always to present content with as much journalistic integrity as possible.
During the next 10 weeks, I’ll be rolling out a new series of destination videos that are being licensed by Seabourn. Those videos also aim to inform and inspire. They will inspire prospective cruisers who want to see new destinations as well as experienced cruisers who want to see destinations they already know in new ways. Dubrovnik, for example, is a city that I have visited half a dozen times or more, and yet I never knew that within 45 minutes of the city, I could bicycle through the wine-producing Konavle Valley, south of Dubrovnik, and slurp fresh oysters on a boat ride out to the oyster beds in Ston, an ancient city north of Dubrovnik.
Some people say that I have the best job in the world. It’s certainly a job that I enjoy. From a boy who emerged from the forests to become a travel writer cruising on luxury ships, I am grateful for my good fortune, and if I can help a few people make informed decisions along the way, then that’s even better.
I’m also lucky to be able to experience shore excursions as Seabourn guests do. This is my third time on Seabourn ships in the past several weeks. It’s been quite an inspiring journey — with more ahead and a lot behind. A few weeks ago I posted 40 Inspiring Photos From Our Voyage On Seabourn Sojourn. In those photos, I am traveling with Chris Stanley, who films the Avid Cruiser videos, and my 18-year-old son, who assisted in filming. Sharing my experiences with them has been the icing on the cake while doing a job that I love.
Following are a few photos from my own Seabourn adventures. Hope you’re enjoying your weekend as much as I am enjoying my Sunday on Seabourn Sojourn.
An avid traveler and an award-winning journalist, Ralph Grizzle produces articles, video and photos that are inspiring and informative, personal and passionate. A journalism graduate of the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, Ralph has specialized in travel writing for more than two decades. To read more cruise and port reviews by Ralph Grizzle, visit his website at www.avidcruiser.com.