Tiffany Swanigan never loved cruises, but she missed her husband during his annual Christmas cruise.
The next year, they took a cruise together, and she loved it — now they go every year.
She's glad she gave cruising a shot.
This as-told-to essay is based on a conversation with Tiffany Swanigan. The following has been edited for length and clarity.
Growing up, my family often took road trips to the beach or flew to Disney, which fueled my love of travel. Journeying by plane or car shaped how I viewed vacations. Cruising was never at the top of my wish list. The idea of being stuck in the same place for several days sounded boring.
I went on my first cruise in 2014 with my mother and my then-6-year-old son. I had taken him to Disney World a few times and we wanted to experience Disney in a new way. Although I enjoyed it, the entertainment was family-oriented and geared toward children, so it wasn't my favorite.
I did enjoy our excursions, which included a day in the Bahamas. We especially enjoyed visiting the Atlantis resort there, which featured a waterpark, sea animals, and an aquarium exhibit. Seeing how excited it made him was really special.
I met my future husband at a work event and had a long-distance relationship
My son's father and I had parted ways in 2011. In August 2015, I met my second husband at a leadership program in Detroit we were both attending for work. I saw him walk through the door at an event and immediately knew I wanted to talk to him, so I introduced myself. Over the course of a few days, we chatted about work and life. Eventually, the topic of cruises came up. He told me his birthday was December 26 and he always took a cruise with his daughter and another family over Christmas to celebrate.
We enjoyed each other's company and wanted to continue getting to know each other. We didn't really have high hopes for a long-term relationship, though, because I lived in Maryland and he lived in New Jersey. A few weeks later, he happened to be in Maryland for work, so we decided to meet up. He brought his daughter with him and I had my son, so the four of us met for dinner for the very first time. A few weeks later, my son and I drove to New Jersey to see him. We dated long-distance for two years, and then my son and I moved to Maryland to be closer. Now, we all live in St. Louis.
My spouse convinced me to try a cruise and, surprisingly, I didn't hate it
In December 2015, he went on his annual birthday cruise. Since it was the holidays, I missed spending time with him. The following year for my birthday, we planned a trip that included elements both of us would like and flew to New Orleans to spend a few days there. Then we took a cruise from a port in New Orleans through the Caribbean for four nights. Despite my view on cruising, I knew how much he loved it, so I was willing to give it a whirl.
It turned out to be really fun. The cruise offered a wide range of entertainment including shows, trivia games, drink packages, and all-you-can-eat buffets. We took advantage of everything and explored a few Caribbean islands. I left that trip feeling totally different. On typical vacations, you usually have to plan your outings. But on a cruise, it's all preplanned, and you just show up to whatever you're interested in. I was also surprised that I got such amazing sleep on the ship — way better than any hotel I'd slept in! There's something about being in a completely dark room and feeling stress-free.
Now cruising is my favorite way to travel
In 2019, we got married, and every year our blended families take a Christmas cruise together. Altogether, I've gone on eight cruises since meeting my husband, and we've traveled to places like Mexico and the Caribbean, with and without our kids.
It's safe to say I've fallen in love with cruising. When we first started, I enjoyed it because there was always something fun to do. Now, as our lives have evolved, we're much busier with work. My husband owns several businesses, and I work full time as the director of a mission-driven nonprofit that supports women in engineering and part time as a real-estate agent. Cruising is a way to disconnect from our jobs and take time to enjoy each other's company, whether it's just the two of us or our entire family.
I'm glad I gave cruising a shot. There are so many different ways to see the world while on a ship. On our most recent Caribbean cruise, my husband and I booked a package for our next one before we even got off the boat. We're planning to fly to Greece and do a seven-day cruise through the Greek islands. It's truly transformed the way I travel and lets me visit places I might not otherwise consider.
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