I have mentioned to several people how much I dislike cruising, and to those who didn’t know, I am sorry you’re just finding out. Hehehe I promise, it’s not personal, I have valid reasons! Last two times, after getting off the boat, I caught Flu and Covid (the first one may also have been Covid since it was on February 2020). Also, most cruises I’ve taken have been to Caribbean destinations, which are similar to where I live: sand, sun and beach. I remember thinking that the destinations would determine if I go cruising again. Only if it goes to Europe or Alaska, for example.
On pat cruises I also tend to overeat, overdrink and under sleep while on cruises, so I need a few days to recover afterwards. This behavior also probably weakens my immune system and hence the reason I tend to get sick. I needed to reach drink limit per day, “to get my money’s worth” or go to the buffet a few times, to try the various sandwich or burger or pizza options! Then bar hopping from center bar to piano bar to edge of the boat bar, and then repeating it all the next day started to wear me out
On my last cruise, which I promised would be my last, I decided to do a few things different. First, I planned ahead to avoid stressing out over passport, Covid tests, etc. Also, for the first time in my life, I used a travel checklist. What a concept, huh? I also looked at ports of call for requirements, tours, etc. Basically, on this trip I prepared ahead of time. I am usually a last minute kind of traveler since I like some spontaneity, but I realized this behavior may cause me to arrive to the cruise tired, weak and stressed out.
During the cruise, I also modified my behavior. No more visiting buffets a few times per day, no more asking for two main courses at dinner or having late night ice cream or pizza. Trust me, I realize that’s one of the appeals of cruising, to have meals on demand to satisfy any craving. But there is a price to pay for overeating for 6 days straight. How about being more tactical with eating? Maybe try a few of the restaurants on board. For example, I had ramen for the first time ever, and it was a game changer! Most days I did not reach my drink limit, and after a few days, I was fine with that.
Most importantly, however, during this trip I actively tried two things I never do. One is to have some time to myself and do what I want to do at that moment. For example, I went to the balcony and watched the waves and the clouds go by. No thinking of anything else, just feeling the moment. No guilt over doing nothing. Heck, doing nothing is something! It’s a well needed reset from the everyday. Another moment that I carved for myself I went to upper deck and walked around a few laps. As a rookie runner, I may be a slave to my watch, who tells me how many miles or steps I’ve accumulated. This trip there was no use for that watch or any metrics.
The second thing I did was to try to connect with my family, which were also on board. Yes, I usually see them at parties and other events, but it’s usually for a few minutes to “catch up”. This time we had several hours of lounging before/after breakfast or dinner, so I had several meaningful conversations which had not been possible before. I found out some of them were going through life events that had not noticed. Exchanging moments on this one slow ship brought us closer than all those other brief meetings.
I also met non family cruisers who I devoted time to get to know, even if briefly. I know people on cruises are usually cheerful because they’re eating and drinking while on vacay, but I realized that while there, they drop their masks and become more accessible. I find that reassuring. It’s good to meet people who (hopefully) have no agenda. I know my agenda is to relax and enjoy the time off. And now my other goals are to connect with others, both close to me and not.
I realized on this cruise something I’ve known for a while. Although I am mostly an introvert, I also like meeting people one on one, or in small groups. So I kept my alone time in place to make sure my batteries get recharged. But I also interacted with others in the way that works for me, and I never felt overwhelmed or tired. Sometimes it’s good to slow down life and see what thoughts come to you. Then see what actions arise from there. Then keep doing those that fill you. Cruising definitely filled me if done in my right way, so I change my mind. This was not my last one. I will hopefully meet some of you on the high seas.