Good times under the sun

Published 4:55 pm Thursday, September 28, 2017

Commentary by Dr. Don Newbury

 The number of folks who enjoy cruising is growing markedly each year, and those of a certain age will head for a cruise port at the drop of a hat, and they’ll provide the hat. Some search for the most obscure reasons to justify another vacation on the high seas. Sorta like imbibers who drag out the old line about it being five o’clocksomewhere before bending elbows. (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 covering 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 are battling weather delays and travel hang-ups.

There’s a reason Florida was, is and likely always will be best known for cruising. Some three-fourths of its coastline is bordered by water, and its tropical weather is favorable to cruising a high percentage of the time throughout the year.

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.

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. Hugh blossoms of this and that also dominated.

Diners took meals at sidewalk cafes that stretch for blocks. There, they enjoy not only their meals, but a passing parade that seems unending.

We lodged at the Victor Hotel, a Miami Beach landmark. Though constructed in 1936, it was extensively renovated a dozen years ago, continuing to be regarded as one of the best hostelries. (A side note that could not be more trivial reminded me that this hotel was serving America one year before I discovered the USA.)

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 a much-photographed giant pheasant.

We were but a stone’s throw from Miami Beach, and my throwing ability is pretty much what it never was. The beach beckoned, and 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. Others of all ages lined up for exercise bars and some tossed Frisbees.

On Ocean Drive, the parade sometimes stopped completely, particularly when shiny antique cars drew much attention. Along the sidewalk strolled a man with a python draped around his neck. At that time, Brenda and I opted to cross to the other side of the street.


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