It was a six day/five night Carnival Cruise. You’ve seen the ads: happy, thin, attractive people splashing around under sunny skies and I have to admit before you and God that I didn’t even get up to that level with the huge circular slide.
I was on this particular cruise To Work – albeit to work with clergy colleagues who are interesting and fun. The only cruise I’ve ever really dreamed about taking was one of those river cruises they show during Downton Abbey commercials. You know the ones I mean.
After this – my virgin excursion – these are my thoughts:
- A cruise ship like this one is more than a Floatel. It’s like a little city. I was happy to be in a little city with lots of generational and ethnic diversity. English was not the only language spoken although it was curious that announcements were made in both “European English” and “United States English.” Why?
- Not sure I’d want to take my honeymoon on this kind of ship. Kids can be loud and even on The Serenity Deck (no kids, no music) there are plenty of talkers. Overhead in the hot tub: “I could have worked for Apple but it was all about age discrimination.”
- You do not have to do all the things. There are gospel concerts and stand-up comedians and art auctions and other shows but you do not have to partake. The only extra thing I did was go to High Tea because I heard there’d be clotted cream.
- You will not meet the locals at portside stops (or whatever the maritime name for these layovers are called) unless you work very hard at making it happen. Or it could happen by accident. On Thursday, I had planned to meet a colleague for lunch and when I asked a local for directions to the restaurant, she told me it was way down the island. After walking about five miles, I was picked up by a local bus (I must have looked lost) and for $1.25 I received a tour of the island with air conditioning. When it became clear that the restaurant was not “way down the island” but in fact in town, and after almost everybody else had disembarked, the bus driver, his sister, and I had a nice conversation. We made a brief stop where he ran into his aunt’s house to get all of us bottles of water. His name was Danny and his sister was Epolia and we watched an episode of Madea on the bus (the one about adultery with lots of gospel singing.) And we talked about adultery and then they took me to my restaurant. My brush with the locals.
- Is it disembark or debark? Debark sounds like something cruel we do to dogs.
- If you are a Myers-Briggs introvert, you must get a single. You must. On the ocean side. They bring free room service breakfast every morning so you don’t even need a roommate to go fetch coffee.
- The staff was from all over with names like Genji and Chul and Martina. The good news is that they get to work on a cruise ship. The bad news is that work on a cruise ship 24/7 and sometimes they are required to dance Gangnam Style. It makes God happy when we tip them generously because I have a feeling they are sending most of their wages back home.
- Cruise ships are about privilege. What an enormous privilege to lie around on deck of a ship under 80 degree sunshine in January when the East Coast is shoveling out from a snowstorm. Actually staying on a cruise ship – depending on the ship – is less expensive than staying in a Holiday Inn – depending on the Holiday Inn – plus 3-4 meals a day, so it’s not about having piles of money. But I do have enough money to do something like this. And that’s a privilege.
- And speaking of privilege, not many people get to work on a cruise ship like I did last week. I’m a pastor who got to work on a cruise ship talking about a topic that makes me excited and happy. These kinds of opportunities are few and far between. Thank you RevGals.
- Taking care of ourselves is part of life’s calling. Women – especially – are not good at this. We rarely have people “turn down our beds” or replace our towels twice a day. The average woman on this planet does not have someone to cook and clean for her. If you know a woman who has cooked and cleaned for you on a regular basis, send her on a cruise. You can go with her if she doesn’t have to clean up after you in your State Room.
- Staying in a tiny space feels like heaven if it’s called a State Room. Think about the spaces we call a Sanctuary and consider if it’s truly a sanctuary for people. And what makes it so?
Already checking out websites for next cruise . . .