We had only just returned from cruise number eight but no sooner had that cruise ended than we booked cruise number nine.
And each time, I'd ask myself, 'Why?'
Why do we keep sailing the seven sees in a metal box the height of a three-storey building, filled with a city of people? Some of whom, I hasten to add, may well have passed on the streets of our hometown without a momentary glance!
But the reason is always the same - that love/hate relationship. It's like a drug.
Like the looping and linking of the paper strips in a Christmas paper chain kit, we finish one cruise and prepare for the fix from the next.
An Introvert's Gehenna
An unspoken word applies to cruises that do not seem to apply to any other type of holiday. I'll give an example. I've stayed in resorts for days, and the only persons spoken to are the bartender, concierge and maybe, if I feel like it, travel companions. Lol!
But on a cruise, it's a very different deal. By some form of a cruise spell, we automatically say hello to everyone and move in and out of conversations, as quickly as a Singapore thunderstorm.
At check-in, we have already met:
- Birgit and a most shockingly beautiful pair of Birkenstock on foot, who proceeds to let us know, their pre-booked transfer from the airport to the cruise terminal was a no-show.
- In the waiting lounge, Dana from the Midwest (America) shares with us (or rather the entire lounge (such is her unbounded enthusiasm)) that it is her first cruise! And detecting a slight hint of Britishness in my accent suddenly sounds like all Miami is Dana's captive audience.
- There's Moura who gets up with the gannets, she says—eagerly offering to reserve a set of sun loungers for when we do rise.
- Then there is Jai, whose niece Meera (we discover) attends the same school as my daughter. Jai has been to a handful of the school's social gatherings, but we have never before seen him.
Yet here we all were in conversation, exchanging room numbers, discussing shoe sizes, detailing booked tour excursions and how many leaves of lettuce we usually have in our salad before crossing the ship's threshold.
You've spent all year running around and picking up after your kids and your partner.
Honey, why have we got a letter from the insurance company saying the cover has not been renewed?
I thought you renewed it. Was the reply back.
Why would you think I did that when I specifically told you on Tuesday morning that you need to do it because I won't have the time.
Is that what you said? Was the reply.
And your left wondering who the bloody hell you speak to half the time?
Kids, we will be late for school. Let's go.
Mom, I can't find my school shoes.
Okay but standing at the top of the stairs and staring at the same spot you've been staring at for the last five minutes will not help find them.
No, mom, but I don't know where they are.
Listen, kids. The school-shoe fairy has not been in town for three weeks now. Please find your shoes and let us go.
Mom, can you help, please?
Definitely, after being everyone's assistant, secretary, doctor, therapist, teacher, chauffeur, detective and shoe finder, indeed you take a holiday to get away from it all.
Or not. Take a cruise, where you not only take on your family but everyone else and their extended five living generations.
But unless you lucked out on the in-law lottery, you could well return one family member short or nine months later add an additional member to the family.
Cesspools of Gluttony
Everyone is happy because you can now fit into that one-size-down bikini. And those hot pants you bought in the Christmas sale, which are mystifyingly two sizes down, actually fit like Kylie Minogue's gold pair.
But three months leading up to the cruise, had seen you join a food convent. Religiously denying yourself of any morsel of gastronomical pleasure. The gym fast becomes the third party in the relationship and soon discovers body parts and contortions not even your partner of seven years was aware of.
However, you are compelled to wear the hot pants and bikini within the first three days of boarding. Because after day three, eating everything from a side of bacon with your ice cream, garlic butter grilled steaks at breakfast to Yuzu-cured pork belly at dinner and participating in wine-sipping escapades from nine until nine, you'll inevitably disembark the size you were - three months prior. Maybe even more.
It's Destination Speed Dating
For some time, you've been making eyes at those white-on-white cliffs of Santorini. You've wanted to be all over those beaches, licked by the turquoise waters of the Turks and Caicos Islands. And you are, therefore, undoubtedly seduced by the cruise itinerary that includes one of your idyllic places.
The cruise finally docks. You are there. The excitement is much too much. You have time for a skinny latte and a philander, all while discovering what's turning out to be your new favourite place. You roll from a latte into lunch. And as the last of the destination's sun smiles on you, you want that lunch rolls into a romantic dinner. But that never happens.
Because your time has expired, the ship calls, and it is on to the next place.
And with each dock in a new port is another little dalliance that never materialises into anything more serious. And you are left feeling a little short-changed.
The reason I'm sure speed dating went out of fashion.
Though if you are lucky, you may well find yourself revisiting an old flame.
Social Media Deficiency
After spending nearly as much of your moolah on your wardrobe as you did on the cruise holiday, you understandably want your Instagram runway. And after sweating blood and tears in the gym for three months, you undoubtedly need to flaunt your Tiktokd swagger.
Except the Wifi, even where complimentary appears to be the only thing on a cruise ship in scarcity. So much for your social media credentials. Because 'if you didn't post it right away, did it even happen?'
And because this was written with much tongue and cheek, here's to the next cruise.
But do you agree with any of the above? Is there anything else you'd add?
Have you cruised before? If not, have I now convinced you to do so or is it still a no?
Original post written in 2020 and updated following subsequent cruises.