As weather-weary “snowbirds” arrive to visit the sun- drenched shores of South Florida this winter season, they will endure aggravating flight delays, snarled gridlock traffic, and inflated hotel rates for the sake of fulfilling their tropical dreams. As a longtime resident of this area, I too am not immune to the hassles of tourist invasion. As my wife and I escape from such madness, on this ten-day Caribbean cruise, our daily lives will slow down to appreciate a well-earned peace and tranquility of our seafaring holiday.
After a brief, 15 minute drive from home to Port Everglades, our cruise ship destination, we opt for the convenience of long term parking designated for cruisers only. A friendly valet proceeds to park our car, carry our luggage, and safely point us to the awaiting van, for a brisk conveyance to our departure terminal. So nice to be treated like a guest of honor in your own city it seems.
Our good fortune continues as security lines are light and we are relieved that we can carry our own luggage today onboard the ship. As a sea of smiling hostesses awaits our unceremonious entrance into the boat, it feels like we have returned home again in the welcoming confines of our “floating hotel.”
While we leisurely into our cabin, reminders of the realities of our past life fade away. No wallet or keys needed, the cellphone sits useless, with merely a cruise card to carry now. Sleep remains vital but seem to be a mere respite from the sheer volume of organized activities/excursions offered each day. Thoughts of nutritional moderation fade in the excitement of elegant dining and unlimited buffets. As walls of distrust break down in the likelihood of making conversation with strangers, unforeseen friendships can be borne from the spark of a common interest.
A movie begins on the top deck after the enjoyments of first night dinner. Grab a blanket, pick up a bag of popcorn and feel the cool air now. What a perfect time to hold hands with my wife again in the intimacy of a lonely corner.
As the first day comes to an uneventful close, I feel an opportunity to grow as a person in my water-enveloping cocoon. As my cluttered mind clears from obsessive thoughts of everyday survival, I seem more open to think of others and recognize others who contemplate me. As I gaze into the dark abyss of these silent waters , I also gain humble appreciation of my aliveness in the miracle of life that surrounds me now.