After reading A Seafaring Tale, Part 1, in which I described taking on some physical challenges during my cruise on the Carnival Legend - swimming with stingrays, ziplining through a canopy - a good friend pointed out that she sees me trying to grow by pushing myself to do things that are uncomfortable for me. I found that interesting, because I feel that I am going through an intense period of personal growth right now, and it all started on the cruise. I will share more about that in a future post.
But I conquered a social challenge on the trip, too - the fear of traveling alone. This was the first time I went on a vacation without the benefit of an adult companion. Of course, Nathan was with me, but his cruise ship agenda is very different from mine. He likes to sleep late and roam the decks with the abundant supply of teenagers on board, and he has never been one for deck parties or Las Vegas style shows. To my surprise, I thoroughly enjoyed having time to myself. I wrote in my journal; I read; I lounged in the sun; I listened to music. When I felt like being sociable, there were plenty of opportunities for that - at dinner, on the pool deck, on shore excursions, and in the disco. All I had to to was introduce myself and offer my hand; folks generally responded warmly, and on the infrequent occasions when I experienced rejection, I chose not to take it personally. I met so many interesting people: a male nurse, a dance instructor, a truck driver, a soldier on leave from Iraq. I danced with a lounge musician while he sang to me during a performance (twice!); I had my picture taken with the cruise director (he said I was "lovely"); I shared an evening with one of the junior officers in the disco. The truth is, if I hadn't been by myself, I probably wouldn't have gotten to know any of them. I loved hearing their stories, and I am keeping in touch with a few - online and on Facebook. (I even discussed the possibility of doing online piano lessons with two of the women I met.)
Now, I don't want to leave you with the impression that Nathan and I didn't see each other. We were together for lunch most days and we dined together every night. And, in addition to our shore excursions in Grand Cayman and Belize, we toured the San Gervasio Mayan Ruins in Cozumel, ending our day at Playa Azul;
and we interacted with monkeys and macaws at Gumbalimba Park in Roatan, and spent some time at a beautiful beach there.
Nathan even surprised me by participating in the "Red Team" activities and rocking out at the deck party near the end of the cruise.
Ooh! Ah! You wish you were on the Red Team!
So now you know why I say this was the best cruise ever.
I can't wait to go again.