61. “I’m Sailing!”

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June 20, 2014 by bdetienne

The Carnival Conquest.

The Carnival Conquest, our vacation vessel.

When my wife and I were planning for our wedding a couple of years ago we decided on a Caribbean cruise for our honeymoon. I was excited at the prospect of starting our marriage off by sailing off to a tropical location despite never having been on a cruise previously. I have been on the watercraft before- houseboats, speedboat, fishing boats, jet skis, etc.- but a cruise ship is a whole other animal. My wife and a few of our friends on the other hand are cruise veterans and assured me it was something I would likely enjoy [and I would not have to employ the Bob Wiley sailing method to embark on this journey]. Unfortunately a medical issue arose that forced us to cancel the trip but I promised my wife that as soon as we could both find time in our work schedules to do so, we were going to set sail.

A year and a half later we finally found the time for the trip. We booked our voyage and I began preparing for the seven-day trip. [Sidenote: there are several interesting tips cruise veterans offer online. Do a Google search for how to pack for a cruise and check them out for yourself. I found several tips to be helpful in my packing preparation as well as our choice of hotel.] After flying to Miami, arriving at our hotel, and getting a good night’s rest, we caught the shuttle and headed towards the Port of Miami.

Even if you are new to cruising you know that the ships are pretty big. They must be to fit several thousand passengers on board, plus crew, and still have enough real estate to host various events throughout the week. But you cannot appreciate how massive these boats are until you see them in person for the first time. Our ride, The Carnival Conquest, spans the length of nearly three football fields and rises thirteen stories into the air. As we pulled up to the terminal I wondered how in the world this thing floated. We passed through security, checked in, and boarded the ship. With the exception a few hours ashore at four ports [Grand Cayman, Cozumel, Belize City, and Isla Roatan off the coast of Honduras], the Conquest was our home for the next seven days.

The cruise was, in a word, incredible. We were literally taken care of all week, from food to activities to room service. And this may be hard for some of us who live in this technological age, but it was so nice to be unplugged from the world for a week. No email, calls, or social media. It’s very peaceful. You can do as much or as little as you want [for example, one night saw us going to dinner, a comedy show, and a show featuring a hypnotist; another night we grabbed a puzzle from the ship’s library and stayed in our room all night]. When you arrive at a port, you can elect to trek on one of several excursions to discover the country; hang out at the port and shop and eat; or stay on the boat. For someone who was born and raised in the landlocked Midwestern United States, the sight of nothing but water for miles around was breathtaking [Sidenote: take the opportunity to wake up early to watch the sunrise. I did and it was one of the most beautiful I have ever seen.]

My wife and I gained several stories on the voyage, some of which I will share with you in future posts here but for now, suffice it to say that I have become a fan of cruising. I think you would too.

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