Excerpts from 1,500-word article
NO FRILLS, NO HASTLE, THIS CRUISE IS ALL PLEASURE
Panama, Central America: When
a certain southern gentleman
wanted to get away from it all, he
opted to stay on the Grande
Caribe for several back-to-back
cruises. By my second day and his
third week on board I could see
why. No telephones, no fax
machines, no newspapers or radio
talk shows chewing over murders
and sex scandals. No decisions to make either, unless it's where to sit in the
dining room or whether to wander ashore for a swim....
ACCL Ships are small, carrying no more than 100
passengers each. An extra-shallow draft allows
them to get close to shore, and from there a bow
ramp is lowered so that passengers can walk
directly onto dry land. It's rather like having a
motorhome parked beside the beach or at the end
of a village's main street.
I love it. If I've finished
with my camera, want a cold drink or have forgotten my sun hat, I can walk
back to my cabin in a few minutes. No hanging around in the heat waiting for
tenders to pick us up. No mile-long line-ups to get on and off the ship, and
another for a taxi ride into town.
The unique design also provides extra storage space for leisure equipment.
On this trip we have our own glass-bottomed boat in which to explore a
magnificent coral reef. Also a Sunfish sailboat, snorkelling gear, water beds
and other play things for the warm waters around Panama. On other routes the
retractable pilot houses allow these ships under low bridges spanning inland
..........aimed at attracting passengers who are interested in the environment,
nature, history and cultures of people in regions they visit. Consequently there
are no casinos or lavish floor shows. For entertainment we have on-board
Two-thirds of our passengers have travelled with ACCL before. Those I
spoke to said they liked the ease of walking ashore even where there is no
dock, and the out-of-the-way stops made possible by the shallow draft. Also
the informality. (Dressing for dinner or for the captain's party means a fresh
pair of shorts or slacks.) And the price. Promoted as a "No Frills" cruise, it
offers none of the usual luxuries provided on most small ships. Nor do we
want them, because they are invariably reflected in the cruise cost.
Staterooms are small but very functional, comfortably air-conditioned and
have bathrooms ensuite.
We were asked to bring
our own beach towels -
and booze. The BYOB
policy works well here
because before boarding
we were taken to a
supermarket where liquor
cost $5 a bottle, wine
around $3 and beer $l a
can. Our purchases are stored in the lounge bar for self-service at any time.
Mixes and bar snacks are provided. The only extras on this itinerary are an
optional half-day trip into the Darien Jungle by cayuga (motorized canoe,) and