I’ve Been a Traveler Since the 90’s. What I Long for Most About Traveling in the Past

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By Car Brand Experts


It goes without saying that I adore traveling. The excitement that rushes over you as you step into the lobby and look up at the atrium for the first time is simply unmatched. Stashing away your carry-on bags in your room before grabbing a quick bite to eat is a familiar yet thrilling experience each time.

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Carnival Imagination cruise ship in Long Beach
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Fantasy-class Carnival Imagination setting sail from Long Beach, California

My inaugural journey was in 1994. Now that I’m in my forties, I fondly look back on that era as the “glory days of traveling”.

During the 90’s, although we might not have realized it at the time, the travel landscape was indeed quite different.

Let’s delve into some aspects that I yearn for the most about the travel experiences of yesteryears.

Lesser Vessels

Carnival Imagination embarkation day
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I might belong to the minority, but I have a soft spot for smaller vessels. I sailed on the MS Holiday in 1994, accommodating 1,452 guests. Intimate and snug.

Subsequently, I embarked on voyages aboard the Enchanted Isle, which housed 716 passengers. Admittedly, it remains my all-time favorite vessel I’ve traveled on.

Smaller ships have the capacity to offer a level of service that is unparalleled on massive ships.

Back in the day, cabin stewards and dining room staff weren’t bogged down with a barrage of patrons.

They weren’t spread thin with their duties, perpetually in a rush. They felt like kin, and you eagerly anticipated booking another trip to reunite with them.

Discover more: 10 adored vessels that are no longer in commission

Midnight Feasts

Midnight feast on voyages
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Lavish? Absolutely. Exhilarating and a standout of the journey? Undoubtedly.

Many moons ago, midnight feasts were the standard on voyages. The daily itinerary of activities would underscore the true essence of this event.

Before the feast commenced, travelers could enter the dining area for photo ops exclusively.

Back then, this was genuinely an exciting occasion. Presently, it might seem somewhat frivolous, I suppose.

Indeed, I queued with the crowd, armed with my disposable camera to capture images of intricately carved watermelons, butter figures, and ice creations. After half an hour, you’d return to line up, this time with a plate and an appetite.

Illusionists

Magic shows on voyages
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While illusionists sporadically make appearances on schedules these days, past voyages often showcased them. In fact, I journeyed on a vessel where the cruise director also doubled as an illusionist.

Now that’s what I call multifaceted!

Trickery paired with a dash of humor was always welcomed on a voyage. The smaller ships of the 90s provided the perfect backdrop for these performers.

They could seamlessly move through the crowd, delivering an entertaining and charming experience.

Personalized Pasta and Desserts

There was an era in which personalized pasta dishes and desserts were the standard. Dining in the restaurant was an occasion, and selected starters and sweets were crafted at your table.

Added perk: Occasionally, the dishes were prepared by the head waiters, engaging with guests as if they were longtime pals.

I can vividly recall a head waiter whipping up pasta with vodka sauce when I was young. Another dish featured mushroom sauce and chicken. He meticulously prepared these dishes at a cart right next to your table.

Cherries Jubilee was another delightful moment where waiters would whip up desserts right beside your table. And who could forget the Bananas Foster? A classic treat that must not be overlooked.

Cruise Departure from New Orleans in 1998
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My incredible voyage from New Orleans in 1998 with Commodore Cruise Line. -Kristi Sellers

Attire Guidelines

Despite my appreciation for the relaxed ambiance on contemporary voyages, there is a certain charm in the stricter wardrobe rules of yesteryears. At one point, dining room hosts would refuse entry if you were not adhering to the appropriate dress code.

This practice may still occur to some extent today, but in the past, standards were more stringent.

In those former times, everyone in the dining area was impeccably dressed. It was a grand affair, and semi-formal outfits were considered essential items on your packing checklist.

When the dinner announcement resounded over the intercom, you would elegantly make your way to the dining hall at your allocated hour, garbed in your finest attire.

Treats on Your Bed

chocolate on bed in Carnival cruise stateroom
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While seemingly insignificant, this feature almost didn’t make it onto my list. Who truly values chocolates, right?

However, when you find yourself on a voyage and your cabin attendant has meticulously prepared your bed and left an Andes Mint poised on your pillow, it seems as delightful as a premium cut of wagyu beef. It is the most exquisite chocolate you have ever savored, making all other chocolates pale in comparison.

It may be a small gesture, but one that many overlook.

Over time, cruises have undergone transformations. Change is inevitable, whether for better or worse. In thirty years, future cruisers will question our fondness for cruises in 2024.

One thing remains certain: people will continue to embark on cruises, and discussions on gratuities will persist.

Discover more: 10 adored cruise ships that are now just a memory



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