When we open ourselves up to new experiences we allow ourselves the opportunity to get outside ourselves. We oftentimes think of boxes as only ways in which other people label us, but more often than not we predetermined our opinions about things without fully experiencing them for ourselves. Cruises were one of those experiences for me. Without having ever been on one I had already determined they were not for me. I like to travel independently, I like to visit non touristy places at non touristy times. I like to research, plan and anticipate every waking hour of my adventure. I like to study maps, culture and customs. I could never in my wildest dreams see myself signing up for a predetermined experience. Then enter last week. We had talked about taking an Alaskan cruise with friends, but when that fell through we oscillated between going without them or not. In the end we booked the cruise a mere few days prior to leaving. I was breaking all my rules, I had no plan, did no research and casually bought a travel book mere hours before departing.
You hear a lot of stereotypes about certain experiences and cruising is one in particular. Cruises are only for old people, obese people, white trash people, obnoxious people etc. I have also heard things like the food is amazing and endless, people enjoy getting very drunk on them and sea sickness is common. I have to admit, I was not without an ounce of trepidation the day in which I boarded that huge vessel. What if I hated it? What if I was sea sick the entire time? What if other people made me crazy? I am happy to report our experience was pleasurable and most of the stereotypes I had heard were incorrect.
1. There were some old people, but the majority were middle aged or large extended families.
2. I saw very few overweight people and I was in fact jockeying for a place at the gym most days.
3. The food was less than stellar, the best way I could describe it was Sizzler or Mitzel quality. Not terrible, not great, just alright.
4. The food was not endless, meaning there set times for certain types of food to be out ie. better eat breakfast before 10am and better not expect lunch after 3pm. There were several times I wanted something and they were either closed or all out. Day three the granola disappeared which left me choosing between Rice Krispies or Raisin Bran. Ugh!
The main thing I learned from the cruise was a reaffirmation of how much we like to travel independently. You not only get better deals, but cannot blindly visit a place the same way in which you can on a cruise. Your experiences are richer and more personal. Your knowledge grows deeper and your limits are tested. Don't get me wrong. Cruises can be great. I was never deathly sea sick (like I feared) and it was much easier to get away from people on the ship than I thought it would be. Just like in real life, cruises give you many experiences in which you can either jump in and participate or sit back and watch from the sidelines. My only regret of this cruise might be that I did not muster enough courage to karaoke...... because I have never heard such horrible singing in all of my life. I really could not be that bad, now could I?