To understand my 'cruise' desire, you have to understand my drive. I love the ocean. As flippantly as we use the word love, it feels like it's not good enough. I don't love the ocean like I love God or like I love my family, but as much as you can love something that doesn't love you back, boy do I love the ocean.
I love the ocean because I can't measure God. For real. I love the ocean because it's huge, and I can stand myself up against it, the waves can lap over my toes, I can look outward and to my peripheral and all I can see is water. Vast, mysterious, deep water.
The ocean always reminds me of God. It's the closest large thing I can compare Him to. It's my getting a handle on His width and girth and height. I can stare at the ocean and think, "He is immensely bigger than this." Standing at the edge of the ocean makes me stand at awe of an almighty, all powerful, amazingly big God. (Cue my three year old singing, "My God is so big, so strong and so mighty, there's nothing my God can not do... for you!)
Thus - my cruise on the bucket list came to be when I considered being able to look at the ocean from the ocean... where there is no land in sight... only water, water and more water.
And so we did, and folks, let me tell you, our God is so big. Not only is He bigger than that water that stretches and stretches past every horizon, He created it and everything in it. Many times I said to the hubs, "I wish I knew what was under us right now. The draw of fish and whales and sharks and the unknown is great and mysterious and wonderful. After posing the question I'd think, 'It is so cool that God knows.' I imagine Him whispering to me, "If only you could see it, Alicia!" Amazing.
So - to lighten up some of the spiritually heavy that I just verbally exploded, here's my top ten things I learned while cruising (in no particular order):
1.) Throw the diet off the ship. Seriously. If there's a time to try new foods and eat to your heart's content, it's now. Nearly all of your food is included. The dining room fare was amazing, and though it's classy and great quality, it has an underlying 'all you can eat' quality. Can't decide on a starter? Order two. Can't decide between mahi mahi (which I tried, by golly!) or the steak? Get both. (A gentleman next to us ordered three, count them, three entrees one night, and the waiter didn't blink an eye.) Two desserts? Go for it. One night we tried, accumulatively, five of the desserts off the menu and tasted all of them. Not to be obsessive, but because this is the time for trying new things. I can proudly say I tried Lobster tail, mahi mahi, a clam cake, baked Alaska, a souffle, and several other items I would never order any other time for fear of wasting money and hating them. And I liked more of them than I would have expected! (Not to mention the 24 hour pizza place, ice cream and room service, all free.)
2.) True story, as we were leaving port on Monday, watching the dolphins jump in the bay, I said, "We have to make sure to wear sunscreen, this is like a gigantic reflecting pool out here." The next day we hung out on the Lido deck for maybe an hour. I, and my hasn't seen sun since before Ansley was conceived tummy', was roasted and toasted and burnt to a crisp upon returning back to our stateroom. Moral of the story: the ocean... it's like a big reflecting pool that draws in the sun. Wear sunscreen. (And yes, even with it on, you'll still get a tan. 50 spf got me tan the rest of our trip.)
3.) Let's talk blow dryers. Take your own. You'll hear this whole, "nothing on the ship is more dangerous than fire," spill, which I'm sure is true, and the will steer you away from your heat related items like blowdryers and flat irons. So they put this blow dryer like contraption in your state room bathroom. Somehow, holding it, my hand would always feel as if it had caught fire, but 45 minutes later my hair was never dry. (Input point: It usually takes 5 minutes to dry my hair. Tops.) Tip: if you want dry hair, take your own blow dryer. Otherwise, scrunch, curl or throw it up. That's what I did... and flat ironed later ;)
4.) Speaking of hair. There's something about traveling at 23 knots and being in the middle of the ocean with nothing to block the wind that makes it, well, windy, when you're up on the top deck. If your hair tangles easily, I suggest detangler. If it doesn't, I still suggest detangler, because tangles there will be. My hair on the lido deck was up... a lot.
5.) Ok - so we were advised to take dramamine, just in case. Better to have it than be without if we needed it. So, like chickens, we took it the first two days on the cruise to 'prevent' motion sickness. We found out later that neither one of us got nauseous, but dramamine or not, if the boat is 'arockin, you are going to feel it. And 'arockin' it did on our second day out. Granted, we heard long experienced cruisers say they'd 'never felt it like this before', telling us we'd been in rough seas that day. None-the-less, it wasn't scary, and quite frankly, it was somewhat funny. I don't know how the boat sold any alcohol that day. You didn't need it to get the desired effect. People were topsy turvy all over the place!
6.) So - when you get on your ship, they give you a little time to get accustomed, but before you head out of port, you do a drill. The drill should be pretty easy, and pretty short for that matter, but keep in mind that everyone in the ship (approximately 4000 on our ship) is required to be in a limited space on one deck. Still not a huge deal for a short time. However, add in the factors that it is hot and humid outside, you are layered about 10 people deep with little breeze, and that every state room has to be checked for those who think they are above the drill, thus, you stand there waving yourself profusely and watching those stragglers come moseying through like the drill has really put them out. What should take 10 minutes immediately becomes 30. Moral of the story, don't be there super early. You'll be the closest to the ship, the hottest, and the last ones to leave.
7.) So - we cruised with Carnival (aka - The 'Fun'ship), so I can only speak to their systems, but you'll be bombarded with entertainment options - many of them free - while you are on board. Included will be karaoke shows, music options, comedy shows, and even broadway style shows. The broadway style shows were listed with a rating in our daily news sheet. After hearing the cruise director speak on the Las Vegas style show, "equipped with g-strings and feathers', we decided not to go to it. It was rated PG-13 in our notes. The next night was a PG rated show, that I probably would have taken my kids to see. Thankfully, they were not in tow, or I would have been explaining to my four year old why there were so many women with no underwear on (lots and lots of g-strings). Ratings don't mean much.
8.) Excursions? To do or not to do? Our opinion: to do. Unless all you plan to do is hang out on the boat or shop off the pier (which you can buy the same things at every pier it seems), an excursion is worth the time and money. We took one at one port and didn't at the other, and we wish we would have. Tip: if you go to Cozumel, do the Buggy and Snorkel at Punta Sur. You won't be disappointed. (And we'll pray that Nacho is your tour guide. He was great!)
10.) And lastly - as I mentioned previously... God is huge, and awesome, and mighty, and even out there in the midst of the ocean, He is there. I'd venture to say He is especially there. And it was awesome.
There's my novel.
Until next time.