Saturday, May 26, 2007

The Cruise Part 1

Coffee in the ... hey wait a minute, this isn't Glass Incarnate, it's the weekend! Wouldn't you know, but as soon as I have the button for Keith's gift at the top of the blog--needing to be there and so keeping me from posting about anything else--all I wanted to do was post about the cruise!

Of course I still haven't scanned the photos that the cruise-line people took of us--pictures that I promised to mail to everyone else in our group and at our dinner table (ah well, one thing at a time) but I do have the few I took at Chacchoben--all but one saved for the next post. I also have a couple of shots of one of the cool towel animals our room steward did for us every couple of nights.

So what is it (besides the towel animals) about a cruise that makes is such a wonderful experience? If you're like us and don't get off the ship at the ports of call, what makes it different than just staying in a hotel somewhere for a week? It comes down to three things: obligation, socialization, and fending.

Obligation: Every vacation I have ever taken to a place other than home or visiting friends has entailed at some point having to go out and do something. Maybe it's a walking tour of the Ruta Moderna in Barcelona, or maybe it's a morning scuba diving, or maybe it's going to a vineyard to sample 1000 wines. On a cruise, there is nothing to do other than find a nice nook to read, walk the upper deck, eat and drink. And with the current pace of life for us, that's what vacation should be all about.

Socialization: Every vacation home (mine or Dave's) or to a friend's house means living on top of other beings and having to interact with them. Don't get me wrong, I love my family and friends, but negotiating someone else's space and continued participation in the expected social rituals (like conversation) can be more than I am up for. A cruise ship is so big that even if you do go with other people, you're off in your own space unless you explicitly seek each other out. No one thinks anything if they don't see you for a whole day. As much blissful anonymity as you could want.

Fending: If you stay in a hotel, motel, cabin or condo, you have to actively think about and plan eating. You may even have to fix your own food. Hotels have one dining room (very occasionally more), while cruise ships have several dining and drinking options and they are available whenever you want them. Better still the food is already included so you can eat as often or as little as you would like (I managed to lose weight on the cruise). The closest hotel vacation I have found to the cruise experience is going to Vegas--and that is definitely NOT an all-inclusive trip!

So I love to cruise and would do so again in a heartbeat. The one I want most to do is from Galveston to San Diego through the Panama Canal. I could also spend a bunch of time in the Mediterranean. Sailboats are for Other people. I want my hot shower, gentle rocking motion, non-stop food and--most of all--blissful anonymity. Oh yes, and a little private balcony. Interior rooms also being for Other people. I LIKE hanging in my room and want to be able to tell when it's light or dark out (and even to be able fall over the balcony into the water if I want to--not that I would, but it does seem to be a popular cruise pastime recently).

And if you do feel like getting off the ship there are fascinating things to see--like the Mayan ruins at Chacchoben. More photos of them in the next cruise post. Could be another three months...


Bill Paley said...

To be quite honest, I rather enjoyed our little dark hole to hide out in, if the sun got to be too much for me.

However, I can understand your enjoyment of the balcony.

Jodi said...

I regret not going on the cruise Barenaked Ladies did this past January (though they are doing another in '08), but we are considering going on this one with Ben Folds next year. It's a lot of money, that we don't have though, so we'll see.