Friday, September 14, 2007

The Cruise to Hurricane Dean and What I Learned about Myself

Also known as: another blog where I use words that aren't real words to convey my message.

I guess I'm an after-the-fact blogger. I blog about things that happened weeks and weeks ago. Or months. This one is one month, to be exact. Julie already shared a little about our experiences on the cruise, so maybe I'll be brief. Or maybe not.

This was my fourth cruise. It was my second time cruising Carnival. I've also cruised with Royal Caribbean and Norwegian cruise lines. I'm really starting to get to know myself--what I like, dislike, etc. about cruising, in particular. What I learned:

1. I think that cruises are like a floating great and spacious building. It feels hollow. The part that doesn't feel hollow is the part where you're meeting other people, getting to know them, and trying to learn something about them or from them. Without people, a cruise could be a waste. Fortunately if you cruise with people who you already love and/or enjoy, you're almost guaranteed a good time. However, in addition to that, meeting and getting to know other people is a MUST!

2. I don't know how this could be accomplished, but I like a hybrid of Norwegian's freestyle cruising and a set dinner assignment. I like the freedom to show up to dinner when you're ready and not have a specific time set, but I also feel that it is a necessity to have the same servers and to be able to get to know other people over dinner. Our Hurricane Dean cruise afforded both pleasures. Our servers were so entertaining (not, I repeat, NOT the one who shoved my hand in butter), and we met some wonderful people due to our assignment. So, I guess maybe my pick is to have the assignment. However, the freestyle cruising ended up being awesome, too, because we requested the same table every night for dinner so that our servers were the same. In addition, we met some really fun people, and one of them ended up coming with us to dinner one night. So, I guess they're both good.

3. I'm not a connoisseur of desserts. Certainly there are a lot of tasty desserts, but for me, the excellency of the food is in other areas. I ended up not getting dessert some days. I did have one dessert that really struck my fancy, and it was a black forest cherry cake. Other than that, I wasn't overly crazy about the desserts. I ordered shrimp cocktail (an appetizer) for dessert one night, and I got a fruit plate another night. They were what I desired. But, I was right to get them.

4. I am a seafood lover. I got to the point where I was concerned about how much seafood I was ingesting, so I ordered pheasant. It was a poor choice. I should have either ordered the veggie dish or the fish that night. There was another night when I ordered the chicken because I wanted the vegetable that came with it. I think it was zucchini. My plate came back with extra zucchini, and I think I ended up with extra chicken, too. I barely touched the chicken. Freddy (the server on whom I decided to have a cruise crush) never quite got the hang of my food fickleness, but I bet that they could take bets on what I would order by the end of the cruise. (Seafood!) I learned that I should keep eating seafood if that's what I want and to not feel dietarily obligated to get anything else.

5. I learned to do what I need to do. On the first cruise I took, for some reason I must have needed to really recuperate from my life. I think I slept almost the entire time. But, that's what I needed at that time in my life. This most recent cruise, what I needed was to meet people and do something productive. I actually struggled a little with this one. It's hard to be productive on a cruise ship. You're not supposed to be productive there. So, I did what I could. I read books, which I rarely do. I walked around and contemplated life. I spent time with my friends. I tried to participate in ship activities.

6. ...which brings me to the activities. The cruise ship activities that I have enjoyed the most are the ones where I have been the most physically active and truly entertained. This is definitely hard to accomplish when there's a hurricane outside. When most of the places available to exercise are outside, then you end up feeling stuck inside. I felt that way a little this time. I overcame it by going outside and sitting during some of the stormy weather with Julie. It seems like a lot of cruises are geared more towards wining, dining, gambling, and otherwise spending money on crap you don't need. I'm not into that. I'm into the people and the experiences.

7. In addition to being entertaining, I prefer entertainment to be skillful and classy. My most recent cruise was lacking in this area. It definitely had a hard act to follow. My Norwegian cruise had some of the most amazing people aboard for entertainment. The singers and dancers all seemed to be very experienced and skilled. Every night I looked forward to the show that was offered. I especially liked their show of "Cirque Pan." On this cruise the shows were almost all very missable. The singer and the juggler both spent way too much time trying to be comedians. The comedian was good for sure, but he was really the only entertainment that I felt was really something that I enjoyed. And the dancers. Oh, the dancers. They needed help. I felt like they were prancers and not dancers. Norwegian entertainment: classy. Carnival entertainment: trashy. It left a lot to be desired. Okay, now that I think of it, the best part of the entertainment was when one of the prancers came out in a dress, and the bra that was her previous costume had been hooked on the hem of her skirt! It just really struck me to be so funny. Felicity and I laughed and laughed.

8. Adventure is a necessity. Adventure this cruise came in a variety of forms. It came in the form of walking down streets where you knew you probably wouldn't be safe if you weren't a cruiser. Adventure was feeling the high winds of Hurricane Dean and going on decks that were blocked off. It came in the form of watching chairs and mustard bottles blow away all around you. It was releasing bread crumbs in the water while snorkeling, just to see the fish gather all around. It came in the form of touching sea turtles. Adventure was trying new foods.

Although it was very evident on this cruise that cruising isn’t what life is about, I am still going to continue to cruise. For me cruising is not about having people bring me my food or make my bed (I do like that, though), but it’s about seeing new places, spending time with people I enjoy, meeting new people, learning about different people and cultures. It’s about expanding my repertoire of life experiences and taking time to relax and think about what is important.


Sean said...

You make me want to forget about that fact that I have no money, and just go on a cruise. Granted, Rachelle and I are planning on going to a cruise in the next couple of years, but man, I want to go now.

Oh, and ps, if you ever come down this way for a cruise again, we still have a spare bedroom.

Jill - GlossyVeneer said...

I've never been on a cruise. I'm always afraid I'll get seasick and it would be a totally waste. I can get seasick just looking at a boat. But that's great that you're learning to trust your instincts. It just sounds like me... you have to do things the "wrong" way a few times to figure it out! ;-)

Anonymous said...

Thanks for the pictures! (Did you take others?)

tearese said...

I like your pictures too, the one with the flag and the flower is fun. I liked our cruise; I actually spent time by myself taking pictures and trying to do artwork on the deck. That was fun. And spending time with you guys!
The guys who shared our table made me nervous though. I was glad I was engaged already...not that I was their type or anything.

Booklogged said...

So what cruise line is your favorite? I'm contemplating a cruise sometime in the future. You and Julie make it sound so fun.

Jess and Dusty said...

When we go on a cruise, we are definately asking your opinions. Although to me, the most ideal part of a cruise would be reading out on the deck all day, but maybe not. This was a fun read though!

julie said...

Wow - that flag and flower picture really turned out beautifully! This was a great post; I loved reading about what you learned on our cruise. Good stuff!

Cardine said...

booklogged - sorry about the late response. I actually preferred Norwegian the most as far as the cruiselines went. But, to me, the most important part of the cruise is the itinerary. The ports are what will sway my decision on where to go. (Okay, so price has something to do with it, too.)

I am going to go on Princess next year, and I'll update you on how that one is.

Cardine said...

Oh, and thanks for the compliments on the flag/flower pic. I think I took four of them before it worked out how I wanted. The flower is called a "Yellow Amanda."

compulsive writer said...

Oh I've never been, but it sounds fabulous (well, mostly). "I got to the point where I was concerned about how much seafood I was ingesting, so I ordered pheasant" cracked me up. Glad you got to go.