The Story of 12 Women who went on a Cruise: Part 1, The Planning
How I went from being a Cruise Skeptic to a Cruise Addict
In the winter of 2011, I was strongly encouraging two of my dearest friends to follow through on a dream they had about something that is near and dear to my heart…
The longing for travel is embedded in my DNA, from my grandparents I suppose, and then most recently, my father. It’s just part of who I am to always be longing for the next adventure, to want to get far, far away from wherever I currently happen to be and to spend money on traveling that might be more reasonably spent on a lawn, a roof or a new washing machine.
So when my friends, Sarabeth and Rhonda, who were turning 40 and 50, were throwing ideas around for a birthday vacation with a group of women, they didn’t have to twist my arm too hard for me to be supportive. In fact, since they are both just a wee bit indecisive, I began to send them friendly reminders, emails with links to beautiful destinations. I even gave them deadlines.
I don’t want to take away from them that they did all the work to make it happen, but let’s just say that I lived the process with them. And friends, the process of trying to get commitments from a group of women who have full lives and lots of children to take into account is not easy. Just trying to nail down dates for the trip was hard enough, but then when we started looking for places large enough to house the group of us, a group that was varying from 4 people to 20 people on any given day, I thought our heads might explode.
I kept up the pressure though. Being that I am the daughter of a CPA and a bit of a planner, I was concerned with each passing hour about booking the trip early enough to give people time to pay for it.
Finally, with the much appreciated help of a good travel agent, and with all of the rest of us weighing in with our strong opinions, Sarabeth and Rhonda decided on a Caribbean cruise with Carnival. The cruise was chosen chiefly because it was by far the least expensive option. It just felt the most accessible, especially since we could drive to our port and save buying airplane tickets.
Now I should admit here that of all the options that had been considered, the cruise was at the bottom of the list. Somehow, I had the preconceived notion that a cruise out of the deep South was quite possibly one of the cheesiest vacations one could go on. Images of large bodies rolling around like in the movie Wall-E filled my head. Also, I was afraid of finding myself hiding out in a cramped hole of a room trying to get away from salsa music and Casino lights. I was concerned that my aversion to crowds would make cruising one long bout of social anxiety.
But, being the very good friend that I am, I jumped into the cruise planning with both feet.
So it’s not our own private beach in Puerto Vallarta! Well, that’s ok. We’ll make it fun! It’s us!
A group of strong Southern women who have weathered multiple all night drives to Colorado, endured the breaking down of vans and Suburbans, and suffered through what others would deem an unbearable lack of privacy could certainly make a vacation away from our families fun for each other, no matter how ridiculous the surroundings.
And of course I had to keep coming back to the fact that the cruise was the best deal, and people, it’s no secret around here that I am a complete sucker for a good deal.
Almost as soon as the cruise was chosen, it began to reveal itself as the superior choice for a group of women. First of all, the deadlines were made for us. We had to book it and once your room (including your roommate) was booked, you couldn’t change it. Also, you could not add anyone to your room.
Now I know how it is when you get an email saying, Hey do you want to do this? I always think that I can think about that later.
I don’t have to decide right now.
Or I can say: YES! That sounds fun! Maybe I’ll do that, but then I can change my mind later.
The thing about booking a cruise is that you cannot put off your response to an email that says, Hey do you want to go on a cruise? Or if you do put off, you are not going.
The fact that I think that this is an absolutely wonderful thing about a cruise might sound kind of harsh, but I have more than once upon a time been in a situation where a condo or house was rented by a party and then the splitting of that cost was reduced to being divided by 12 to being divided by 4 or by 6 because no one really had to commit. And by commit, I mean pony up actual money.
So emails flew back and forth for a couple of weeks and then D(ecision)-day came and the final reckoning of actual swiped credit cards with a travel agent rendered us 12 gals who would be in just a few short months, going on a cruise. The group was in many ways a surprise. A lovely wonderful surprise.
I know that I have not yet even gotten to the part of the story where we actually GO on the cruise, but I will have to finish it later. Because today, I have to get finished packing. I have a boat to catch.
to be continued…