Saturday, December 5, 2009

Confessions of a Cruiseaphobe

This was last year's Christmas letter. Since it was pre-blog, I've had a few requests to resurrect it for the archive. That's what writers and artists do, right? They rehash, recirculate, recycle, regenerate--in an effort to maximize distribution and efficiency. 

I know this isn’t the traditional x-mas newsletter. But if you got one of those from me, you would know that I had been abducted by aliens and Ian would have gotten his dream Stepford wife. No, the above picture is not from the cruise, which will be the topic of this slightly irreverent rant. I am smiling, because the dolphins just goosed me and I’m a bit terrified.

 Confession #1: Cruises resemble Hell much more than the utopic Shangri-la promised by Royal Caribbean.

 Observations or Reasons to Support Confession #1: Seasickness, Seasickness, Seasickness—I assumed since I spend my entire summers on boats, that I would never succumb to sea sickness. My friends all said—the ships are so large, you don’t even feel the sea. Well, I didn’t need to feel it. All I had to do was look at it and it was nausea-city. I felt like the chick in Hitchcock’s Vertigo. (Hint—mass quantities of Dramamine and alcohol are not a good mix)

 Observation #2: Spring Break mentality is unattractive in people over 40. Hey—I like to party just as much as anyone else, only not for 16 straight hours. People start drinking various rum-infused concoctions at 10am, continuing for the entire day/night. Inebriation tends to dull one’s sense of hearing, as well as one’s sense of propriety. Thus, no one is aware of their deficiency in social filters. 

 Observation #3: Cruises are license for gluttony. Now I’m sure this is obvious, but I had never witnessed this type of over-consumption. Imagine hundreds of people piling their plates with fat-laden foods—super size me doesn’t even begin to compare. I might be the only person in history who lost weight on a cruise. 

Confession #2: I admit to being a closet spa slut. Immediately upon boarding, I take a spa tour and am recruited to be the spa model. I agreed without ever asking what I had to do. All I cared about was getting the free spa services. Unfortunately, I wasn’t the massage spa model. I was the model for a European torture treatment (probably designed by some masochistic male). I had to lie on a table in the LOBBY of the spa with red algae on my thighs, stomach and hips, covered in clay mud and attached to electronic stem therapy for 1.5 hours, while patrons toured the spa, poking and prodding me. (Apparently, they thought I was a manikin, since no LIVE, SANE person would do something so embarrassing). In case you haven’t had the luxury of electric stem therapy, it feels like thousands of needles pricking you all at once. The benefits of such torture??? Detoxification and slimming—3-8 inches in one treatment. Unfortunately, the technician forgot to measure me before my treatment, so no proof exists of my suffering or ultimate improvement.

 Confession #3: I’m allergic to the ocean. All of you who know me, realize that every time I enter the ocean, I am stung by jellyfish, Portuguese manowar, etc… So in Cozumel, I grill the tour guide, who assures me that in October, there are NO jellyfish, sea lice or anything, which could possibly sting me. While snorkeling, I try to ignore the stings that I’m feeling over my entire body. It must be a figment of my overactive imagination. Upon exiting the ocean, the dive guide suggests that I have an extra drink. I’m ecstatic. No signs of stings—until the next morning. My entire body is covered in large, red, oozing blisters—which resemble a bad case of leprosy. Given my vast medical training, I deduce that I’m allergic to particles of coral and sea anemones, which freely float in the water by the reefs. (Hint—large quantities of Dramamine, benedryl, cortozone and alcohol don’t mix)

 Confession #4: I feel ever-so guilty about admitting my cruise abhorrence. After all, who can complain about an all-expense paid trip to the Caribbean during the middle of my work semester?

 Counter argument or the positive outlook: At least we didn’t spend our own money to experience the cruise phenomena. It was warm. Obama won and the cruise ship showed the election coverage. I have really good stories to share.

 Memorable Moments: One of the dinner waiters from Goa, India. “Madam, it is a fish, it is supposed to taste fishy.”

 (In the Jacuzzi with 8 other people, all strangers.) 3 very large men from Kentucky talking about incest and sex with their sisters. I am so not making this up. That was my one and only dip in the Jacuzzi.

 Sneaking into the Ritz Carlton’s pool in Grand Cayman. (The cruise ship’s supposed 5 star resort excursion was a dive motel with 2 outdoor showers to be shared by 200 people)

 The champagne bar on the ship. A glass of Veuve Cliquot can make almost any situation bearable.

 This is getting too long. I hope you had a good chuckle at my expense. Laughter is the best stress remedy. Keep it real and keep the focus on t he reason for the season.

 Wishing you a blessed holiday season.



p.s. Ian and I usually disagree on most things—politics, child raising, movies, art, etc…

we both agreed that this will be our first and last cruise.

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