Today is a whole day sailing the open seas…
As I’ve often said, the Hubs is the cruise connoisseur. I may get some credit for getting us started but he gets all the credit for keeping the itinerary alive and growing. Planning a cruise is, for him, a challenge if not outright escape. He is expert at justifying extras, on ship and on shore. “It’s once in a lifetime,” he often asserts. “We may not come this way again,” I’ll say, continuing the ruse.
Although we have become sure and steady travel mates, my first travel journal reveals the naivety of our first cruise. It was a long journey to Aruba and a series of firsts: his first plane ride; our first trip out of the country — Canada notwithstanding; first time off the continent; first time to a country where English was not the dominant language (several countries!); first time to leave our young family. (Courage nearly failed me there.) It was also a watershed moment as husband and wife and a most wonderful trip — the first of many, as it would turn out. How far we’ve come, and gone, since then.
To be honest, this cruise feels quite odd because the Hubs isn’t here. I’m completely enjoying time with my family but still would much rather he was on board. I think of him at specific times, especially when I fall into comfortable routine — early morning at the café for coffee, leisurely fine dining, late night sing-along. I have no interest in the hot tub, early morning or late, without my mister! He’s also missing in the long stretches of companionable silence, such as I’ve enjoyed since I awoke today, reading and writing on the balcony, the sea stretching out ahead as far as the eye can see. It pains me to know he’s working hard while I lounge away an entire day, unfettered. It’s just not quite right. Did I mention that I miss him?
We loved cruising so much in ’92 that we did it again with the chids a few years later. Then time and finances took a toll. I finished school and started a career. He plowed on at the farm. We raised our chids. When we entered back in, 11 years later, the Hubs had become intense about it. Sometimes I’ve thought, “This is too much. There is more to do, other places to see.” But I remember why cruising works so well when I have to travel far by some other method.
As any cruise critic will tell you, it is a superficial approach to another culture, constrained by time to a mere passing glance. But I’ve come to peace with that. This is what I also know, twenty years past our first cruise: It is a relatively affordable way to travel great distances. There is a lot to be learned on every trip. It can be a healthy, active experience. It can be a quiet, reflective experience. I don’t need fancy clothes or many clothes. I don’t need to feel guilty.
The most important thing about cruising for me has always been the itinerary. We have visited places that I’d never dream possible otherwise. When you cruise, you learn where you most want to go for a week or a month or a year, should you happen to come into money and afford to travel without three thousand of your closest friends tagging along. Meanwhile, the economy of scale works in your favor. Ignore the naysayers and enjoy the journey.
P.S. I’ve been impressed with the way the company has assisted my sister in her distress of losing luggage this trip. (She made all arrangements through them.) An agent met her in Rome and ushered her through the claims process there, no doubt securing even a small chance for success. Personnel on ship collected information, contacted and then stayed on the airline to track it down. (They’d tagged it manually as systems were down as she checked into her first flight.) The company provided complimentary formal wear for her and her son. And a complimentary salon appointment to complete the effect! That’s the way to keep a customer for life.