Review Time! VACATION/HONEYMOON

Hi all. I just wanted to pop in and let you know we are back from our honeymoon, somewhat. We are staying a few days with my mother-in-law in Florida and then making the two day trip home.

I was hoping the trip would give me a reboot. Each time I publish a book, I end up having writer’s block for about three to four months after. I typically need jumper cables to get me back in the mood. I think it is the exhaustion of actually publishing that does it to me. Although it is natural for me to write, the publishing and marketing is a little taxing. So, I try to plan get-a-ways right after I publish.

SAM_1077I also think stepping away from every day life gives us a sense of the things that we hold dear. Never before have I ever missed “home.” I have always loved the thrill of traveling and seeing new places. This trip felt very different to me. I kept missing all of things I normally didn’t miss at all about my “normal life.” I missed my dog and actually worried about him while we were gone, probably because of the cancer diagnosis. I am still worrying about him since we haven’t quite made it home yet. I missed my son, as I always do.

I also felt completely different about this vacation than I have all the rest. At certain points on the ship I actually felt trapped. I have never felt that way about cruising. I discussed this with my husband several times on the cruise also and this is what I’ve come up with:

SAM_1048I have been cruising since 2000. This past week’s adventure makes #7 for me. In the past, when I cruised, I had been working high stress jobs with horrific responsibilities. So, cruising had actually been an escape. This time, I didn’t feel like I was escaping at all because there was nothing to escape from. I realized that before when I took a cruise, I was running away. Every time I got on a ship, no one could find me, contact me; no pager beeping, no one calling me to ask me to work overtime or to tell me I had a new referral I needed to go out on. All of that was gone. In fact, I had felt liberated whenever I hit the high seas. This time, I felt a little lost. The entire time, I just wanted to be home.

Here’s the other thing that I think contributed to the new found feeling of homesickness. Before, with one exception. I had never cared what I ate or how I took care of myself while cruising. The one exception is when I first lost all of my weight. Even then, I took a break from dieting to reward myself for all of my hard work. It was different this time. I did by very best to steer away from all of the fatty, high-sugar foods and wanted a healthier alternatives. This time, that wasn’t an option. Every day it was the same thing… salads, salads, and more salads. The eggs were runny. The bacon was raw. The options on the buffet were fat, fat, and more fat. There were no diabetic-friendly desserts. I guess that didn’t bother me before, but for some reason it did this time.

Please understand, I am not saying I had a bad time. I didn’t. This experience was just a little different for me. And it made me realize that I would rather go to Tennessee for two weeks than to be on a ship for eight days.

As far as a review for Carnival Breeze, the staff was friendly, especially at 1:30 a.m. when we had to have someone come to our room because of a foul odor coming from the mattress. We are not stinky people (LOL). We take care of ourselves well and are quite clean, so the stench was saturated into the cloth of the mattress. At first, we thought it was the sheets. However, the housekeeping staff confirmed for us that it was the mattresses, but they could only give us one replacement. So, for them to change out our beds in the middle of the night with a smile, says something.

We also lost water for about 24 hours. A part broke and that caused everyone to be without water. Thankfully, we were able to spend the day on the beach and by the time we got back on, the system was back up. I didn’t really get angry about this because, to me, it is like a hotel with typical hotel problems. Things break all of the time and they have to be fixed. It’s just part of life.

I do see a change in the cruising industry in general, however. It is becoming less and less what it once was. The appeal of it is decreasing, in my personal opinion. Before, when I first started cruising, the meals were delicious, inclusive, and top-of-the-line. Now they have added actually restaurants on board that require extra money. For dining, they give you pagers because there is typically a 45 minute wait for dinner. This ship was the largest and newest I have ever been on, so the number of people was much higher than any other cruise. This made for more crowds and more children running around. I lost count of how many times I was shoved, stepped on, ran into, and had to wait on the elevator because a teenager pushed all of the buttons. So, ultimately, if I do take another cruise, it will be an adult cruise. No kids. Don’t get me wrong, it is a great way to do a family vacation, but it is just not my cup of tea anymore.

I remember a time when we cruised and we were upgraded to a suite. We only paid $780 for three of us to cruise. Those days are gone. Cruising used to be one of the most budget-friendly vacation options around. Those days are gone, I’m afraid. So, to pay the high cruise fees plus have to shell out for dining options, that isn’t economical at all, at least not for us.

The ports of call for us were St. Maarten, St. Kitts, San Juan, and Grand Turk. St. Maarten wasn’t quite what I thought it would be. We took a tour of the island on scooters, which was pretty cool.  We also saw some of the sea creatures, which was extra cool! The island itself smelled like sewage, so I’m not sure what that was about.

We got off of the ship for about an half of an hour in St. Kitts. It was mostly shops, people trying to sell you stuff, and trying to overpower you with monkeys and tours.

San Juan was pretty awesome. We did a tour of the forts and they were massive. The tour guide was great and the forts themselves were unbelievable. Because it was a short day for us to be in San Juan, we were rushed back onto the ship as soon as our tour was over, which was a little frustrating. A friend of mine from college lives in San Juan and I really wanted to visit him, but because of the line onto the ship and the fact that we had to be on the ship so quickly after our excursion, I didn’t get to see him. The likelihood of me going back to San Juan is remote, so not being able to catch up with him made me sad.

Grand Turk was number one on this cruise. It was spectacular. We walked off of the ship right onto the beach. We spent the entire day there. I built a sand castle for the first time since I was a child. I have never actually been in the ocean as an adult. I have had my feet in, but I have never been in the water up to my neck. The Caribbean Sea is like clear bath water and I took advantage of that. We lounged in chair and enjoyed the company of each other as well as some new friends we met on the ship. That was a good day!

11707514_10206386146566344_8110240937227784763_nSo, all in all, I don’t think my experience had anything to do with Carnival. It had everything to do with me and the fact that I have changed as a person. The things I like and find enjoyable have changed and as a result, the things I prefer to do have changed. I prefer spending time relaxing on the beach at my mother-in-laws where I am not rushed and don’t have to deal with crowds of people. I prefer being hidden in the mountains with my husband. I prefer spending time with my son by the fire out back. I have grown up, I guess and with the change in my situation, I have evolved. I don’t have to fight the hustle and bustle of the public anymore. My life is more leisurely now than it ever has been. My stress level has decreased significantly. I don’t do the same things I used to. It only makes sense that the things I enjoy and the reasons I enjoyed them would naturally change as a result. And, really, I am glad for this. I am happy that I don’t have to run away. I would rather know that I’m different than I was before and accept that with an open mind, thus gravitating to the new things that come to me.

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