Last Saturday morning, I did something I’ve never done before. Along with my wife and child, not to mention a good chunk of my immediate family, I boarded a cruise ship set to sail into the wilds of Alaska. I’ve traveled by car, train, and airplane, but outside of a few day trips scattered throughout my life, I’ve never traveled by ship.
It’s an exciting feeling for me getting on board, knowing this “floating hotel” will be my home for the next week. I’m not afraid of water or water travel, but there’s something about knowing your “hotel” could sink into the middle of the ocean that’s a little disconcerting. But I’ll reiterate, I wasn’t really worried about that. More than anything else, I was worried about the close quarters. I’ve never been one to cuddle up with strangers. Worse yet, when I get uncomfortable, I require space, and when my stateroom is only about 300 square feet, space can sometimes be difficult to find. It’s a good thing I have a entire cruise ship to walk if that happens.
As with any other new situation, adjustments are needed, and today, I’m finally finding myself leveling out. So what’s different about life on board a cruise ship? Everything and nothing. All the comforts of home (except maybe internet) are available to me. I also have the benefit of onboard gift shops, a casino, numerous bars and restaurants, live music, shows, and movie theaters, all of which are easily within walking distance and highly affordable (as in included in the price of the room). I have to spend my own money at the shops and bars, but hell, that’s why I saved up before vacation.
The ship sails, then stops, then sails and stops again. The amenities stay aboard, and I can leave and venture into the tourist towns, or I can stay aboard (which is what I’m doing today). Herein lays another of the difficulties. My explorer instinct says “Go, go, go! Get off the boat and see everything you can see.” But I don’t really like tours, and so I wander into town, but there’s only so much touristy things I can do before I get tired and go back to the ship. As soon as I’m back aboard, I feel that call to explore again. So exhausting.
The point of the cruise is to relax, I’m learning. My explorer instinct has to take a bit of a break. There’s not enough time in any one port to soak up Alaska. The fact that I’m, viewing the scenery, dwarfed by giant mountains topped with glaciers and surrounded by icy waters is enough to sate the explorer in me. Relaxation is the key here, and I’ve had a hard time accepting that, but I’m coming around.
Now, to get over that anxiety in close quarters…