The Making And Life Of A World Traveler: Well Almost–Chapter Eighteen–Travel by Ship

The great thing about going on a cruise is that there is no weight limit for your luggage. Besides I have never heard of a cruise ship sinking because somebody brought too many suitcases. I have been only on one cruise ship, so my experiences are somewhat limited. Our room while nice was below deck, so our view was restricted to a small round window or porthole. I always vowed if I were to go on a cruise again that I would get a room with a better view. Though to be honest, I didn’t spend a lot of time in my room. So I guess my decision will be based on what the price difference will be for a nicer room with a better view. I would love to actually take two more cruises, one in the Alaskan fjords and the second, being a tour through the Mediterranean Sea.

While it is true that I have only been on one cruise ship, I have made several overnight or weekend trips on large dive boats. Though I must admit, that no matter how nice the dive boat was it did not compare to the cruise ship. Cruise ships are the ultimate in luxury. While we ran our asses off with each stop, many people opt to just enjoy the ship and never leave the decks. There is much to be said for doing this because these ships are truly amazing. I also think you would be hard pressed to partake of all the available activities on these mega ships. In the following portion of this chapter I have included some of my experiences during my cruise.

My one and only cruise was a 10-day jaunt to the Western Caribbean on board a Royal Caribbean Cruise Line ship. I took this voyage with my first wife Tammy. One of the absolute coolest things on these cruises was their amazing cuisine and their ever tasty daily tropical beverages. Every day they would have a different mixed tropical drink. They also had a two-story library on the ship as well as more fun things to do than you possibly could have time to for. So what did my wife do each day, she spent most of her time in the cabin sleeping, how much fun is that? The only time she would come out was for meal time and when we arrived at our port of calls. If you are new to cruises, let me give you one piece of advise, even if you have time to schedule two excursions during your stay at the port, just do one. You will be much happier. We scheduled two excursions on both of our ports. As a result, we ran around like maniacs and frankly none of the excursions were worth the price of admission.

Let me give you another piece of advice, don’t open up your refrigerator in your cabin unless you plan on taking out what you want. On our first day, my wife took out and looked at each bottle in the refrigerator. Each time you take a bottle out, you get billed for it. So we had to have our steward reset the whole refrigerator so we weren’t billed for stuff we did not want. Even with all the crazy shit that happened on our cruise, we still had a great time. One thing of note, the drivers in Jamaica are some of the worse drivers in the world. We did a raft cruise down the Martha Brae River. To get there, it is about an hour long drive each way. On the way there, you have to go on these narrow, windy single-lane roads where when you arrive at a curve in the road instead of slowing down, you speed up and honk your horn. During each of these curves in the road you think you are going to die as your life flashes before your eyes. Frankly by the end of the trip, I was bored with my life and I was begging to borrow someone else’s life.

As part of our cruise experience, we signed up for a couple of snorkeling adventures. Since I had not used my snorkeling gear in a while, prior to the cruise I bought new fin straps and a mask strap. My wife had neve went snorkeling before, so she was the proud recipient of new snorkel gear. In retrospect I am happy that this event took place on our first snorkeling adventure, where the water was only 10 to 15 feet deep. If it had happened on our second adventure, the water would have simply been too deep for me to retrieve our gear. Everything was going well, and we are having fun basically looking at nothing. What else can you expect from a cruise experience? When my wife tugs on my arm. I look over to her, and she points down to the bottom of the water where her snorkel is resting comfortably there. So I being a skilled snorkeler execute a perfect fin kick maneuver and off comes one of my fins. The extra stress created by the maneuver broke the already brittle fin strap. So now her snorkel had company, one of my fins. Ok no problem, I still after all have one fin. So I executed the maneuver again flawlessly as before, only to now have my other fin resting at the bottom with its partner. So Huston, now we have a problem. As part of the snorkel experience, we were required to wear snorkel vests. These vests always have trapped air left in them, so I had extra buoyancy as well as having no fins and I might add, I was not in the greatest of shape at this time. So I basically had to work my ass off to retrieve those fins and my wife’s snorkel. Finally I was successful, so now I had to swim back to shore so I could replace my fin straps. I had left the new straps in my gear bag on the beach. Well no sooner had I put on the new straps and was back to where my wife was snorkeling, then the cruise horn started blowing, signaling that we were out of time. What the hell? Needless to say I was none too happy.

Each night we enjoyed an elegant meal in the main dining room. To enhance our dining pleasure, we had a set seating list which meant that we shared our dining experiences with the same people every night. This way we could discuss our daily experiences with people that we were at least familiar with. This is great if you like your partners, it just so happened that we liked the other two couples at our table. So that worked out. I guess if that was not the case we could have requested a change. I am sure they have plans for this contingency. One thing I enjoyed doing was walking on the main deck each evening after we finished our main meal. It was nice to feel the wind blowing in our hair and the smell of the salt air.

Every large luxury cruise ship has ample activities depending on your interests. If it is trying different cuisines, the ship I was on had 13 different restaurants covering just about every taste imaginable. There was a health spa and a gym. There was a rock climbing wall on the back of the smoke stack and there was also a track to run or walk on. There were several pools including one that was saltwater kept at the sea temperature so you could become acclimated to the water temperature of the sea. There was gambling and several shows including movies. It seemed that we did not partake in much of the evening festivities because we were so tired from all of the daily activities that we fell asleep quite early. What is great about these ships is that you can pace yourself. You can do as little or much as you want to do. Since I have a sensitive stomach I was worried that I would not tolerate all of the rich foods. This was not a problem for me since I never once got sick or had diarrhea. I was amazed.

One of the simple pleasures that we enjoyed was that each afternoon when we came back to our room, our personal attendant after tidying it up would leave some kind of ornate figure made out of a couple of our towels. I don’t know if that was standard practice or just his little specialty, all I know it was a nice touch. You could also not ask for better service everyone was so friendly on the ship. If you ever get the opportunity to take a cruise, just do it.