My wife and I: we don't travel so well together. It's not that we fuss or fight, or anything unpleasant such as that. Rather, it's that our travel styles, formed by years of professional roamingme as a reporter (most recently as cocktails columnist for the New York Times), and she as a wine importerjust don't mesh. I prefer weird and gnarly places; she's fond of châteaus. I'm into street food; she likes pairing menus. I love hunting down local varieties of moonshine; she'd rather nose out terroir in a glass of Burgundy.
Images Supplied by C.D. Barbados Copyright 2008
Vacationing, then, would seem like a dangerous ideaa means of courting, rather than easing, marital friction. But when you have three small children, as we do, escape is sometimes necessary. So we pinned our hopes on what might seemat first blush, anyway; to me, anywayan unlikely compromise: a Caribbean cruise. The ship on which we booked passage, the new Celebrity Equinox, has 21 onboard sommeliers (Celebrity is one of the largest employers of sommeliers in the world), a nearly 2,000-bottle cellar, tasting seminars and 10 restaurants, including one with an extensive wine-pairing menu. All of that would fulfill my wife's precise needs. And our 10-night itinerary, with port calls in St. Maarten, St. Lucia, Barbados, St. Kitts and St. Thomas, would provide ample opportunity for me to go hounding after barbecue, obscure hot sauces and local rums.
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Still, a bubble of dread rose inside me when, on the first day, I saw one of the ship's sommeliers looking hyper-official in his maroon vest, with a silver tastevin, or tasting cup, around his neck. I had to wonder whether that tastevin was like the ship's lifeboatsuseful in a pinch but mostly ornamental.