Fragrances of Cruises Past

Az The World Turns - Written by Bonnie MacLaird

I am somewhat sentimental about my past travels. And for me fragrances trigger my “scentimental” memories. Passing through my day-to-day life, certain scents will trigger memories of a cruise line scent and I’m back in time experiencing life onboard with whichever line I associate with that scent. For example, many years ago onboard Seabourn Cruise Line it was a specific Tiffany & Co. soap. But it is also their brand of cleaning products. There’s an elevator at a high-end restaurant in Sausalito I frequent with the identical smell as the elevators on Seabourn. While riding to the second floor of this bayside restaurant my mind invariably returns to and imagines I’m going to dinner at The Restaurant. I remember the maitre d’ greeting us and escorting me to our table.

Tiffany Soap from 1991

Tiffany Soap from 1991 (23 years old) Story below...

Years later, the amenities on-board the SeaDream Yacht Club ships were Bvlgari white tea shampoos and lotions. I have a friend who used to work in sales for SDYC. When I sailed last onboard their ships she asked me to bring back a lotion for her. She was so sentimental about that smell that I bought her a retail size for her birthday knowing she’d be pleased.

And onboard Azamara Club Cruises it is the lovely Olivier Decoster About Rose toiletries. This scent is so associated with Azamara ships that there are odes to it on online cruise forums by Le Club Voyage members! On these forums past Azamara guests share their excitement about future cruises they have booked and what they look forward to experiencing...including the scent.

About-Rose Amenities

Why do certain smells transport us back in time to another place?

It is scientifically proven that smells can bring back memories, and yes, also emotions. They call this olfactory memory. It works this way because the olfactory bulb has access to both the amygdala, which processes emotion, and the hippocampus, which is responsible for associative learning. Your brain forges a link between a smell and a specific memory. (Source: How Stuff Works, “Smell and Memory” by Sarah Dowdey)

My 25+ years of cruising on more or less four lines has definitely forged the link between certain scents and happy memories of shipboard vacations, of people I’ve met at sea, and of out-of-the-way destinations I never would have visited if not for cruising.

About a year ago a girlfriend with whom I sailed from Los Angeles to Caldera, Costa Rica in 1991 gifted me with a bar of Tiffany & Co. soap she had squirreled away all these years from the ship. The soap was wrapped in a napkin, no doubt the same shipboard napkin she used to bring it home in her luggage. This bar of soap was truly one of the most touching, and most memorable, gifts I can remember receiving. It brought back memories of our fun onboard and of wandering through Mexican ports, and later renting a car and driving to the coffee fields of Costa Rica.


1991 author & friend

The shared memories are the most precious to me and a whiff of a past cruise fragrance floods me with memories. I’d love to hear about your favorite olfactory memories from cruising. Comment on this with your thoughts, or share your “AzAmazing Memories” here.

To build your own olfactory memories this winter (frangipani, jasmine, gardenia, ginger, lemongrass, lime kafir, basil, clove, cumin) I’d recommend these voyages:

Bonnie MacLaird

Bonnie MacLaird is Azamara's Chief Blogging Officer. She has worked in the cruise industry for over 20 years and shares a passion for travel with Azamara guests. You can most often find Bonnie offering helpful tips and sharing Azamara news in the Cruise Critic online forum.

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