My Cruise Experience
The Atlantis Resort
We just returned from a 5 day cruise to the Bahamas. Although I have been on several cruises, I still felt afraid before sailing. The ocean is just so vast. We had to board our ship in Charleston, SC. First of all, it was windy and damp. Secondly, it was dark outside. The boat looked really big and scary against the night sky. Maybe it was the colonial location, or the time of year, but I couldn’t help but think about the voyages I have read about in books, like Kidnapped by Robert Louis Stevenson. Sailing across the ocean was depicted as a swashbuckling adventure, filled with pirates and treasure. But would something like that really be exciting in a good way? What about those spy stories about boarding foreign trains on dark, snowy nights, with the whistle blowing romantically in the background? Was it actually romantic, or was the protagonist’s heart pounding out of his chest as he vowed silently never to embark on another secret mission?
The Pilgrims were certainly inspired by God to board a tiny, wooden ship for a 66 day voyage across the Atlantic Ocean. They didn’t have 5 star dining, towel animals, and a cruise director to ensure a comfortable trip. In William Bradford’s Of Plymouth Plantation, he wrote about how seasick the passengers were, and how the crew of The Mayflower shamelessly mocked them. When they arrived there was no welcoming committee. There were no inns, restaurants, or even hospitals for the sick. The Pilgrims were rock stars, in my opinion. If they were able to get on their humble little boat, then surely I could be brave enough to board mine. We did have a long wait to get on though, because the Charleston harbor is small, and we all had to board at the same time because a passenger on the previous cruise was sick, forcing the ship to change its course. It wasn’t anywhere near the trauma suffered by the pilgrims, but we did wait for hours to get on board.
Our first stop in the Bahamas was Freeport. It was much better than my expectations. We heard that it had been hit by hurricane Matthew, and had only opened for tourism a few days earlier. Our self-guided excursion to Taino Beach was well worth the $97 it cost for admission and cab fare. Advertisements for island beaches often depict two people frolicking alone in the surf. The reality is usually more like an elbow-to-elbow experience. In this case we had plenty of room. The water was ombre- turquoise, with the lightest shades closest to the shoreline. There were clean restrooms, and a nice concession stand. The big sisters sunbathed while the little sisters built an iconic sandcastle. I thought about, and missed my only son, who could not come because of his college classes. I was faintly aware of peddlers calling for mamas to buy their children conch shells and sea sponges while I read my mystery novel in peace and tranquility. My husband rode a wave runner on the beach. I watched from the shore. What a great day!
Our next port of call was Nassau. Since we had already gone parasailing (I closed my eyes the whole time, like when I rode those roller coasters in Dollywood last fall) and snorkeling on previous cruises, we decided to go on a paid tour of Atlantis, on Paradise Island. Themed after the lost city bearing the same name, it was everything a resort should be. The building materials looked very expensive. I say “looked” because I am, by no means, an expert. The chandeliers were exquisite. All of the stairs appeared to be made of stone. The indoor stores had names like Versace, and Gucci. The world’s largest salt water aquarium contained sea turtles, sea rays, sharks, grouper, and so much more. Pictures and descriptions could not do it justice. I can’t imagine how grand it would be to fly to Nassau and spend the weekend at Atlantis, lapped in luxury. The only downfall was the terrible pain radiating through the middle toe on my right foot. We had walked quite a bit on the tour, and I was wearing a pair of shabby-chic patterned flip-flops that coordinated with my athleisure outfit. For those of you that don’t already know, athleisure can be worn for exercise, while still appearing fashionable. I know this term because my 21 year-old daughter keeps me informed about such things. The windsuits we wore in the 90’s were athleisure, we just didn’t have a label for them. That same daughter had to loan me a pair of softball slides so that I could make it back to the ship. She had those and other comfortable shoes in a backpack that I had labeled “big and dumb” a few hours earlier. I had to eat those words, but at least my toe stopped throbbing.
The last day was described as a “fun day at sea” on the brochure left in our room. They could have used a more creative adjective than “fun,” but I guess it got the point across. I spent part of the day eating, of course. I futilely tried to offset the extra calories by using the stairs instead of the elevator. In between meals we played ping pong, foosball, corn hole, and life-sized checkers. It was nice to see my youngest children outside, enjoying the fresh air, instead of staring at their iPods. I’m not against technology, but you can have too much of a good thing. Other than that I mostly napped and read books. I finished The Sound and the Fury, by William Faulkner. On the back of the book, the description read that it was one of the greatest novels of the 20th century. Really? I guess I am not that literary, because I had to go back and read things over and over, just to figure out what was happening. Thank goodness for SparkNotes. If not for them, I would not have known that Quentin drowned himself. I should use it for a white elephant gift exchange at a Christmas party this year. Anyway, I was happy to finish so that I could begin reading The Comatose Cat; A Guideposts Choir Mystery. That was my kind of book! At the end of the day, my 8 year-old asked me which 3 things about being on the boat I would miss the most. I will miss having non-stop fun with my family, having other people clean for me, and having people prepare my meals, for a change. I love my job as a domestic diva and homeschooling mama, but it was nice to have a little vacation. I had a great time. Honestly though, I was happy to get back to my beautiful cat and our cozy little cottage. Dorothy was right, be it ever so humble, there’s no place like home.