In the year since we returned from our RTW adventure, we purposely stayed close to home. But this past March, as the kids’ spring break approached, we looked for an opportunity to take a vacation as opposed to travel.

Our choice? The polar opposite of a ten-month round the world trip:  A four-day Carnival Cruise.

Part Vegas, part Branson and all Mall of America, Carnival is build around the concept of “The Fun Ships,” relentlessly focused on giving Middle America a taste of the high life.



Carnival packs plenty of “activities” and “shows” in a four-day cruise, but for us, the main event was people watching. There was plenty to observe.





The first night aboard the Carnival Imagination we were escorted to our dining table where we met the families who would be our dinner companions for three nights.  When we were seated, we joined a mother, stepfather and son from Wisconsin enjoying their second cruise.

Soon, a second, more intriguing family was seated:  Four Bulgarian expats now living in Montreal. It was their first cruise.

The father spoke in heavily accented broken English: “I worry… I am too soft on my sons, bringing them on a cruise like this.  They do not know hardship.  When I was their age, the Soviets took me into their Army and I was sent to Chechnya.  I was made to do things they cannot imagine.  But it made me a man.”

I asked if he had visited Bulgaria recently, if it had changed.  He said: “Last year, I saw my father for the first time in 20 years.  I would like to do something like this for him – but how could I? He does not know such things exist.  If he saw all this…”

He shrugged his shoulders and looked away.

“Be sure to order the chocolate melting cake for dessert,” the stepfather from Wisconsin said, wandering aimlessly into the conversation. “You can order two.”



There are more cruise pictures here.