Floating City

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After a last look at St. Thomas from the fort’s ramparts, it was back to the Galaxy for the final night of the cruise. As the week had progressed, I’d found that the ship offered many quiet, lightly populated places. Deck Six, with its broad teak promenade, seemed to summon up the very essence of ocean travel. On that last night, as a handful of passengers gathered at the portside rail, they were rewarded by a perfect poster for the cruise industry. Across the water two vessels rode the waves, strands of lights outlining their masts, with windows and portholes lit. A crescent moon stood high above the lead ship like a pointer. Stars sprinkled the sky’s dark canvas, a few so low on the horizon they could have been lights from small craft. A woman standing next to me at the rail remarked how much she’d liked this week. “We always sail on the smaller ones,” she said as the brilliant visions kept stately pace with the Galaxy across nautical miles. “But we were pleasantly surprised. After all, it’s still a ship.”

—Carla Davidson TO PLAN A TRIP