Any plans for spring break this year?
Oh, we’re going on a cruise!
Another cruise?? Didn’t you just do that?
Well, yes, actually – that one was sans family. This one is our “normal” jaunt.
One of the most common things I hear from people when I tell them we are cruising (again) is, “Oh, I could never do that … “ I always volley back with, “Oh, but you could and you should and go sign up immediately because you will still have two years to hem and haw.” No, really. You don’t get to decide today that you want to go on a cruise in a few days or months. Primarily because one of the best reasons to cruise is the limited inventory.
Do you know what limited inventory equals? Limited people. Don’t be intimated by ship size. We typically travel on those that host 4000 passengers at a time yet consistently only see the same fifty to a hundred fellow floaters. Yes, I have also sailed on ships that host far less than 4000 people and, yes, I was nervous about feeling “crowded” when I dragged my family onto a mega-ship. Not to worry. There is a psychology study somewhere in there that would explain why, even on those larger ships, feeling shoulder-to-shoulder is never an issue. I suppose it has to do with the thought put into use of space and the cruise-cadium rhythms of fellow passengers.
Why cruise? For me, it is the ultimate in shutting down. I have yet to find any other vacation type that truly enables me to just turn the heckle off. Once planted onboard, I can totally tag out and engage relaxation mode. I daresay that, for mothers, vacations are often filled with similar responsibilities as those filled at home. Well, except with the additional pressure of ensuring sooooo many more fun and memorable moments.
What may look like a standard week at the beach still involves grocery shopping, laundry, cooking … you know, all the things that keep the home in working order – but with background music that sounds a lot like breaking waves. When we favored RV life, it was the same story. Packing for the kids stopped at counting pairs of underwear. Packing for me involved creating a miniature version of our actual home that was then transferred from location to location on wheels.
A vacation that is planned out months or years in advance? Including all activities, payments, and dining options? Take my money. Take ALL of my money and my credit cards and plasma, if needed.
I’m actually writing this entry from the Norweigian Bliss’ Garden Cafe while my husband has a boys’ night with the teens. The hardest part of this night was deciding which of nearly a dozen dining stations I wanted to plant myself at while I clickity clacked. I did not have to shop, prepare, or serve any meals for ten glorious days and yet there was already a variety of delicious options, enough clean silverware, and someone else to bus the table.
Do you know what I love about going out to dinner? Not shopping, prepping, serving, or cleaning up meals. Cruises? I love not doing any of that for as many days as I sign up for as well as tossing out dusting, bathroom sprucing, and vacuuming. Hell, someone else even makes our bed each day after we wake up with a completely new (and always beautiful) view. Each morning, we pull back the curtains to a gorgeous new port and enjoy it while drinking coffee on a private balcony – coffee someone else made and brought to me because they understand why it’s important to me.
Curfew? What’s that? Boarding a cruise ship with teens is basically a “set it and forget it” version of parenting. It’s not like the kids are going to jump overboard in an effort to dodge bedtime. I sleep like a baby the second my head hits the pillow rather than with one ear tuned to the door waiting for late arrivals. The kids know what activities we have planned and what time they should be ready and if they want to stay out socializing until three minutes prior, welp, paste a smile on kiddos as we are off on an adventure that someone else has coordinated.
I have been fortunate enough to experience cruises on Royal Caribbean, Oceania, Regent, Disney, and Norwegian. I am constantly in awe of the ability of each cruise line to load up a small town’s worth of people and treat them to their best day over and over and over. I don’t understand how those that staff the ship are able to find such happy employees. I’ve watched Below Deck – I know the range of kindness exhibited by travelers varies greatly. Yet throughout ten cruises, I have never seen an attendant, server, bartender, cruise director (the list goes on) break character. It is always “Whatever you need,” “Happy to help,” or “Is there anything else?”
My husband was one of those “Oh, a cruise? I could never do a cruise” people prior to being gently shoved up a gangway six years ago. It took virtually no time at all for his tune to change dramatically to a constant whistle of “Ode to Joy.” He felt it immediately, the peeling back of stress. Now he counts his cruise days in terms of rewards, wondering just how many trips we’ll need to reach super ultimate platinum status.
I’m not even ashamed to say that we currently have two more cruises on our 2024 books. Well, maybe a little ashamed. The second is scheduled to leave moments after we drop our youngest off at college. Nothing wrong with planting an empty nest on a cruise ship, right?
I hear you though, “Oh, a cruise? I could never do a cruise.”
Don’t doubt yourself, friends, you can do it and you should do it.