I admit, when I first started traveling, my interests were pretty limited. I simply longed for a beautiful beach. This was before my introduction to Europe, before Asia, before South America and Alaska. I just wanted to find the most pristine sandy coves fronting the most luscious clear waters — and rank them. More than a million miles intervened, and naturally, thankfully, my travel repertoire expanded, to cultural and architectural sites, to diverse cuisines and, most meaningfully, to interactions with the citizens of dozens of fascinating countries.
Of course my love of beaches never faded, so what a treat, at the end of my Panama Canal cruise on Westerdam, to disembark on Half Moon Cay. Full disclosure: I was here before on Nieuw Amsterdam, on my first Holland America Line cruise in 2011. So I’m feeling lots of anticipation as the crew, with friendly Dutch cadets like Jelmer onboard, on hand to see that everyone has a great time. Just like before, I book a cabana, and as I make my way to it, soft fine sands underfoot, I wonder if today is going to be a replay of that sunny Bahamian day eight years ago. When I see the water, I barely have the patience to find my cabana and meet my smiling butler, and then I’m grabbing my swim goggles and running past pine trees and lounge chairs down to the water’s edge. The loungers are arrayed so perfectly — with a clearing in the center that seems made just for my ease of access into the sea.