The number of folks who enjoy cruising is growing markedly each year, and many serious cruisers will head for a cruise port at the drop of a hat--and they'll provide the hat. Some provide the most obscure reasons to justify another vacation on the high sea

The number of folks who enjoy cruising is growing markedly each year, and many serious cruisers will head for a cruise port at the drop of a hat--and they’ll provide the hat. Some provide the most obscure reasons to justify another vacation on the high seas. Sorta like imbibers who--before bending elbows--drag out the old line about it being five o’clock somewhere. (This excuse ranks ahead of the one about drinking “for health reasons.”)

Count us among that group--the cruise bunch--who figure there’s a cruise ship somewhere going, well, somewhere. After all, the vessel and its ports of call grab our attention, sometimes without much thought about the miles required to get there (Despite current examples to the contrary, we’ve never found the skies to be anything but friendly, and further enticements include “transFAREnt” plane tickets.)

Failure to recognize fetching locales is a monumental mistake for several reasons. For one, it’s a simple matter to add days and call it a “cruise/land vacation.” For two--and it’s a big TWO--arriving early can assure leisurely boarding while others sometimes battle weather delays and travel hang-ups….

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There’s a reason Florida was, is and likely always will be best known for cruising. More than three-fourths of its state boundaries are bordered by water, and its tropical weather is favorable to cruising a high percentage of the time.

Truth to tell, it might be justifiably called “the cruise state,” but legislators chose “the sunshine state.” No matter.

We went on a “just because” cruise recently from the Port of Miami, adding a couple of days for a visit to Miami Beach. Our time there was more than “sun-splashed.” It was “sun-drenched”--daytime temps in the 70s and a few digits short of 70 degrees at night….

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During this visit, we mostly “people-watched” on Ocean Drive. The world strolled, jogged and rolled passed, on both two and four-wheeled vehicles, and albeit rarely, three-wheeled conveyances were spotted.

Tourists thrilled in the near-perfect weather setting, as did the locals, many of whom have “why-get-in-a-hurry?” countenances. For the latter, it’s another day in paradise. When the sun doesn’t beam down on a precise schedule, they’re apt to report it missing, with Old Sol pictures appearing on milk cartons within days.

My wife marveled at stretches of giant ivy, seemingly flourishing with little attention. Huge blossoms of this and that also dominated….

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Diners took meals at sidewalk cafes that stretch for blocks. There, they enjoy not only their food, but also an endless parade of both strollers and vehicles.

We lodged at the Victor Hotel, a Miami Beach landmark. Constructed in 1936, it was extensively renovated recently and continues to be one of the most popular hostelries. (Its founding date provided a trivial side note. The Victor was serving America one year before my discovery of America.)

Guests who swear they’d ride bikes if available are brought up short. Turns out, they are offered by the hotel without charge. I had straddled a bike and was set to pedal before remembering my plan to get my exercise serving as a pallbearer for my friends who jog.

The Victor’s lobby is filled with objets d’art, including an oft-photographed lifelike giant pheasant….

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We were but a stone’s throw from Miami Beach, and my throwing ability is pretty much what it never was. Tourists mingled with hundreds of families gathered in great numbers to enjoy their Sunday afternoon. Sand volleyball courts stretched as far as eye could see. Children splashed in the surf. Folks of all ages lined up to exercise on parallel bars; others tossed Frisbees and flew kites.

On Ocean Drive, the parade sometimes stopped completely, particularly when shiny antique cars drew much attention.

Strolling down the sidewalk was a man with a python draped around his neck. At that time, Brenda and I opted to cross the street. The sun beamed down there, too….

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Dr. Newbury is a speaker in the Dallas/Fort Worth Metroplex. Inquiries/comments to: newbury@speakerdoc.com. Phone: 817-447-3872. Website: www.speakerdoc.com.