A 40 Year Plus Cruiser Reflects On Industry Changes

Brett Pechuls took his first “real” cruise in the 1960’s as an Atlantic crossing, though as a military brat, he’d been at sea many times previously onboard military transports. He cruised on several lines in the 1970’s and 1980’s, but then took over 20 years off from cruising. His first modern cruise was with Carnival in 2004 to Celebrate his 40th wedding anniversary with his wife Anne. He’s been cruising almost every year since. Cruise Talk Central talked to Brett about his cruise experience and asked him to reflect on the traditions and changes in the industry.

Cruise Talk: Tell us about your first cruise vacation.

Pechuls: 1970, the ship was the Costa Line TS Flavia. She was a small older ship and held about 500-600 passengers – a pretty ship though. Had lots of nice real wooden trim.

Cruise Talk: How did the ship differ from the cruise ships of today?

Pechuls: The smaller ships were more intimate. By the end of the cruise you felt you knew everybody.

Cruise Talk: What impressed you most about that first cruise?

Pechuls: Being waited on hand and foot, a real treat. Also (pleasure) cruisin’ was a new way to vacation back then. Most ocean voyages were Transatlantic or Transpacific crossings up till that time.

Cruise Talk: What made you want to choose cruising again?

Pechuls: We especially enjoyed the fact that on a cruise you can see several ports or places without the hassle of moving from place to place every day or so. You only have to unpack once!

Cruise Talk: What type of activities did you enjoy in the cruises in the 70’s.

Pechuls: In those younger days, we partied a lot on the ship and enjoyed touring the new destinations.

Cruise Talk: When and why did you take kids cruising?. What did the kids like about cruising?

Pechuls: We took the kids for New Years cruise in 1976 — Big Mistake!!! Kids loved everything, so we had to take them on almost every cruise after that.

Cruise Talk: When was your first cruise on a modern ship.?

Pechuls: On the Carnival Victory in 2004.

Cruise Talk: What impressed you most about the Victory?

Pechuls: The sheer size of the ship was impressive. Everything was new and in first class shape!

Cruise Talk: In all your years of cruising, what has been your favorite itinerary?

Pechuls: I think we like the Caribbean Islands because of the variety of cultures experienced. ie. British, French, Spanish, Dutch etc.

Cruise Talk: What has been your favorite port of call? and why?

Pechuls: Well, we haven’t been there in over 25 years, but we used to love St. Thomas because we could do something different each time we visited. We could take the excursion to Trunk Bay over on St. John’s or enjoy the beaches right there in St. Thomas. There were lots of shops there and they really took good care of the cruise ship passengers.

Cruise Talk: Do you have a favorite excursion?
Pechuls: We loved our tour of Caracas in 1979. Recently, we loved renting a car in Nova Scotia and taking a self guided and paced tour of the towns and countryside.

Cruise Talk: Is there anything from the old days of cruising that you wish would never come back?

Pechuls: A few of the cruise directors I’ve run in to.

Cruise Talk: What are your future cruise plans? Why?

Pechuls: Alaska 2009. We have always wanted to go to Alaska. Right now we are looking at a Northwest United States Tour that includes the Grand Tetons and several other “must see” things out West with a 7 day cruise to Alaska on Holland America.

Cruise Talk: Thanks for your time Brett! And keep on cruising!