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Opinion

Cruising a great way to meet new people

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September 23, 2011

Hello, fellow Falcons! Welcome to the unofficial travel section of the Student Voice! If you have a passion for traveling, have explored the world previously, or are just curious about certain ports of call, then you’ve come to the right place. My goal is to introduce you to some interesting cities and countries and, hopefully, give you a reason or two to check them out yourselves someday. Who knows? Maybe you’ll even want to study there during your college career!

Before I introduce you to the world, let me introduce myself. This is my fifth and final year at UW-River Falls. Upon graduating on Dec. 18, I will be a Spanish major with minors in business administration and French.

Yes, both languages have come in handy while abroad. I am very fortunate to have been on 17 (yes, 17) cruises. From Alaska to the Panama Canal, and everywhere in between, I have visited some of the most beautiful ports of call in the world. I do have many pastimes while not at sea. I’m politically active, entering my fourth semester as Chair of the College Republicans. I am also an active follower of Chicago sports (sorry, Packer and Viking fans). In addition, I work at the new Super Target in Woodbury.

Many of you are probably wondering why I’ve gone on so many cruises. To me, cruising is the best way to travel because you can visit so much in a short amount of time. Plus, you unpack only once. It’s true that you have limited time in each port. However, you get a chance to sample some of what the city has to offer. If you like the port, you can always come back. That’s why I’ve been to Alaska three times and the Panama Canal four times. The point is, if you see and do everything in one trip, there is no reason to return. Many of my friends are afraid to cruise because they’ll get sick. Although it’s possible, it is extremely unlikely. The ships are designed with excellent stabilizers, so most of the time you can’t even feel the ship moving. In addition, the ship’s bridge (control room) uses satellite technology to steer clear of choppy seas. In the end, it’s all about having a positive attitude while onboard. If you think you’re going to be sick and not have fun, chances are that’ll happen (and if that’s the case, stay home and let me go in your place).

Above all, the best-kept secret about cruising is being able to mingle with your fellow passengers. You run into all kinds of people from different backgrounds and cultures. You learn about their history, share stories and sometimes you wind up with new friends on Facebook! In fact, one of my best friends lives on the Caribbean island of St. Lucia. We’ve shared so much over the past seven years that it feels like I’m part of her culture. With that said, I would like to say ‘welcome aboard’ to my column, and I hope you’re ready to embark on an exciting journey around the world.

Michael Leonard is a Spanish major at UW-River Falls.