Just before leaving on my honeymoon a few weeks ago (read it here), I wrote a blog about the trepidations I had for going on a cruise. As it turned out, a couple of my fears were realized and a couple turned out to be totally wrong. In spite of the parts that annoyed me though, we had a great time.
This trip was actually a family vacation paid for by my new father-in-law (thank you, Ben!). It wasn’t really a honeymoon, even though we turned it into one. We had a whole crew along with us. That was never a problem though as there were plenty of activities on board that we could all go our separate ways and just meet up for dinner. And it was kind of nice to have more people to have fun with. It was also a great chance to get to know my new family more.
The only real complaint I have about the whole trip was the other passengers. Some of them just seemed to have lost their minds. They would push and shove and elbow on the way to dinner or when fighting for deck chairs. There were times I wanted to escape to get some peace and quiet and that was pretty hard to come by. At times it was even difficult in my room when some function was happening on the promenade.
|El Morro Fortress in San Juan, PR|
One concern I had before we left was not being able to spend enough time in any port to really learn anything about it. And while the time was short, it ended up being ok. I just thought about the time in port as a “sampler.” It gave me chance to visit a couple places I have never been and think about where I want to visit for an extended stay.
This was a nine-day cruise on Royal Caribbean’s Explorer of the Sea. We had four different ports of call: Bermuda, St. Maarten, San Juan, Puerto Rico and the cruise line’s private beach Labadee, Haiti. I really enjoyed St. Maarten the most and plan to go back there to dive. The history we saw on a walking tour of Old San Juan was really cool and it made me want to learn more.
The best parts of the cruise for me were when I made personal connections. I always make it a point to the people serving me. I want to treat them as humans rather than servants…something a few of my fellow passengers forgot. We ended up growing very fond of Michelle, our server at dinner and Elena, the bartender in the dining room. Both of them were Filipino and always pleasant and happy, even though they worked extremely long hours. Stephen was a waiter in the lounge where we hung out to listen to music after dinner. He was from St. Vincent and a lot of fun to talk to. He made me want to visit his island as well.
As I’ve already said, I really enjoyed St. Maarten and plan to go back there. It was especially good for three reasons. We went snorkeling with a very small group and had a great time with the crew drinking a large amount of rum punch once we got out of the water. The second reason the day was so cool, was I got to share the ocean with my (bonus) daughter Kaitlin. I think maybe she’ll be interested in becoming a diver some time soon. The third reason why the day was so much fun is I was on a 60-foot catamaran with fewer than 20 people and was within touching distance of the ocean. I could feel it with every wave and enjoy the salt air in my face. I realized that was what I had been missing. Time close to the water. Afterward, on the cruise, I tried to get away from the pool area and closer to the ocean’s surface so I could smell it and hear it.
Predictably, I also found some inspiration on board for a new novel. I think this is going to end up being a really cool story if a bit of a new direction for me from my other novels. It’ll be about six months before it is ready, but stay tuned.
Time to get writing!.