Cruisin’

Whelp, I did it.  I went on a cruise.  My first cruise.  My first cruise and a nude cruise, to boot.  I never thought I’d catch myself on a boat in the middle of the ocean, but that’s exactly where I found myself over the past two weeks.  Aside from a few tears here and there as I watched the horizon disappear and reappear before my eyes, all seemed to go well.  We had a blast.

This trip was a first in many ways.  Like I said, it was my first cruise.  It was also my first vacation with just me and my husband; no kids allowed.  It was my first trip out of the country.  I definitely took a huge leap outside of my comfort zone on this one.

While we were gone I did a LOT of things to take me out of my comfort zone.  This trip was like a little (or big.. no, HUGE) challenge for myself.  See, I’m the fearful sort.  I’m afraid of damned near everything: bugs, water, flying, birds, monkeys (yes, monkeys), other people, unknown places, heights… the list goes on and on.  And yet, I faced every one of those fears on this trip.

We started with a short, five hour flight across country to our embarkation port in Florida.  I hate flying.  Did I mention that?  I don’t mind the airport experience or the fact that I ALWAYS get pulled aside for enhanced screening by the TSA.  I’ve got all that down.  It’s that actual FLYING part that I can’t get down with.  But I did that.  (check)

We spent a day and a half in Florida before we had to board.  We went to the Kennedy Space Center (in the rain AND cold!), drove around Cocoa Beach, got tattoos and ate at local restaurants.  Well, there was a Waffle House thrown in there for good measure.

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Then came the big day: embarkation day.  I had NO IDEA what to expect.  Everything seemed to be working in our favor as we rode with friends to return our rental car and found that the rental car agency offered a free shuttle to the port for customers.  *w00t*  When we got to port we were, oh, like two hours-ish early.  Amazingly enough they had a line specifically for people like us: early birds.  It took us about an hour to get through the line, get our passports scanned (my first time using my shiny, new passport… amazing!) and find our way to our waiting zone.  Even the waiting zone was a breeze and only lasted a few minutes.  So, off to the fucking huge boat we went.  Only later would we realize that our ship was actually quite small compared to the “normal” cruise ships that were in port beside us (that’s us on the right).

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We spent the first day on board roaming around and trying to get the layout down.  We checked in to our room an hour or so after setting foot on board.  We met our room steward.  We checked out our balcony, unpacked and then roamed some more.  Honestly, the first day is sort of a blur.  The rest of the trip would make up for that.

We spent the first day after embarkation at sea.  What a disconcerting feeling for someone who is terrified of water; particularly the ocean.  Needless to say, scoping out the various bars asap was of the utmost importance on that first day (and every subsequent day…)

Port day #1: Half Moon Cay in the Bahamas.  Half Moon Cay is a private island owned by Carnival Cruise Lines.  Because it was a private island and we were the only ship in port, Carnival opened up the island as “clothing optional”.  It was fucking beautiful!  And warm and blue and sunny… and we could walk around naked!  Fab.  We took an eco-lagoon tour in a glass bottom boat where they told us about the sea life (including, but not limited to, barracudas, sharks and jellyfish).  Just another jump outside of my comfort zone.  I can’t believe I actually signed up for the experience (or that I actually went through with it).  I will admit that the water was beautiful: 17 feet deep and you could see to the bottom.  Amazing.  We did some shopping for our girls back home.  We found the local island bar and could smoke INSIDE the bar!  (exciting and terrifying all at once for this California girl).  We ate a buffet lunch, naked, while “wild” chickens roamed in and out of our feet.  It was definitely an experience.

During the trip we would spend a day at sea, then a day in port and then back to sea.  So, back to sea we went.  My darling hubby had to work on sea days at the resort’s information booth so I stepped outside of my comfort zone AGAIN by roaming the ship alone, sitting at the bar and having a drink alone, going to the smoking section alone and throwing down a few bucks in the casino~ alone.  This was probably one of the more challenging things I did during our trip.  I am not good with people.  I don’t do well on my own and feel the need to have my hubs be a buffer between me and the world.  No such luck.

Port Day #2: Ocho Rios, Jamaica.  So, what excursion did I plan for this day?  Bobsledding.  In Jamaica!  “Feel the rhythm.  Feel the rhyme…”  You know how it goes.  Anyways, that was the plan.  Sounded fun, right?  Well, the problem is that I didn’t think about HOW we’d get to the top of the “mountain” that we would then bobsled down.  Sooo… sky chairs.  Did I say I was afraid of heights?  Yeah.   I was a little…. jumpy… as we saddled up for the ride up the hill.  It was terrifying!!!  We were hanging ABOVE the canopy of the rain forest in Jamaica for a good 15 minutes.  I white-knuckled it all the way there… until my darling pointed out that there was a camera up ahead.  I smiled.  It was perhaps not a genuine smile, but I smiled.

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Not impressed.

Anyway, we made it to the top unscathed and without poopy pants.  Next up was the bobsled.  Holy shit!  What a blast.  I will say that the spiders hanging on the side of the track were ALMOST enough to distract me from the fun, but I managed to thoroughly enjoy myself in spite of them.

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We made our way back down the hill on the dreaded sky chair thingy and headed back to “town” (basically, the portion of town near the port as we were not at all interested in venturing outside of the area because we sorta value our lives).  We spend the afternoon being hounded by “taxi” drivers (and others), roaming through the local craft market (an experience all it’s own), eating lunch on “island time” (don’t order a banana daiquiri~ long story) and turning down offers to get our hair and his beard braided… it was an interesting and exhausting afternoon, but SUCH an experience!

Back to sea, yada yada.  He spends the day working.  I spend the day day-drinking, roaming, smoking and napping.

Port day #3: Roatan, Honduras.  My absolute FAV-OR-ITE!  It was beautiful and the people were friendly and it was FUN!  I DEFINITELY stepped out of my comfort zone there.  See, my plan all along was to hold a sloth.  Bucket list!  Welllll… when I went to book it the sloth excursion was sold out.  Bastards.  I ended up finding a different one that didn’t seem quite as exciting, but was at least in the same ballpark as the one I REALLY wanted to do.  It was a pirate, monkey and bird excursion.  Did I mention I’m afraid of monkeys AND birds?  Well, I am.  But… we were off anyway.   We hopped on a tiny, packed tour “bus” and headed out for the 45 minute trek to Gumbalimba Park with the most fantastic tour guide in the history of the world.   I was super nervous knowing I would have to encounter monkeys and birds, but was thoroughly enjoying myself from the get.  Until… she told us that we would have to walk across a bamboo suspension bridge over water during our tour at the park.  Fucking water.  Everywhere.  *deep breath*

To cut a long story short: I walked across that damned bridge.  I couldn’t make myself hold those damned birds, but I DID let a freaking monkey crawl all over me.  And I LOVED it.  Photographic proof to follow:

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(that’s me!)

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(me again!)

Bonus to the day?  A sloth!  I didn’t get to hold him, but I did get to see him climbing around in one of the trees as we walked past.  I couldn’t even stop staring long enough to take a pic, but I’ll prove it with a pic the hubby took:

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Back to port and shopping and then back on the boat.  The best fucking day ever!  Well, maybe not as great as the days my kids were born or the day I got married, but pretty flipping close.

Annnnd… back to sea.  You already know how THOSE days went.

Port day #4: Cozumel.

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(I should mention that THIS is the point where we realized just how tiny our “ship” was compared to our neighbors’) This was my husband’s favorite day.  For me it was a day of shopping, food and lots and lots of walking.  Lots of walking.  The outside of my comfort zone part:  We shared a cab with a couple from the cruise to downtown Cozumel to check out the shops and the “city”.  The rest of the day reminded me of being at our local flea market.  The people and feel were familiar.  This I didn’t mind so much.  It felt a little closer to home to me.  We did a LOT of shopping downtown and then headed out for the walk back to port.  A three mile walk.  Three miles.  It was hot, sunny, beautiful and there were people everywhere.   We had lunch at a lovely little restaurant at port (bomb food! and they had Dos Equis Amber soooo….) loaded up all of our shit (ALL of it!) and headed back on board.   Bonus memory for the day:  My husband was offered the opportunity to rent a jeep, a scooter or some dude’s sister for the day.  Hmph.  Oh! Another bonus: a pic of my darling hubs sitting with Pancho Villa.

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Once we were aboard we buckled down for our last night and full day at sea.  During our time on board we had met some AMAZING bartenders and settled in to a daily routine of grabbing a drink at the casino bar with Ronald

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and then spending the evening in the pub with Seti and Danni

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On our last morning we threw our clothes on and headed down to say goodbye to our (by now very familiar) baristas:

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When we got back to port in Florida we got to learn the process of passing through customs and submitting a customs declaration form.  They didn’t even want it or bother to ask to search our bags.  *shrug*  All-in-all getting off the ship and back on American soil was a breeze from start to finish.

So that about sums it up.  I’m so grateful and amazed by the entire experience.  Am I any less scared of the things I did or saw?  No.  No, I didn’t conquer my fears.  But I DID face them.  I looked them in the eye and I stepped up and challenged myself to push through the fear to a whole new world of experiences and excitement and fun.  And pride.

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