Carrie-Anne and I returned home yesterday from our first ever cruise, a couple of shades darker, a couple of pounds heavier, and very, very, very relaxed. It was a six-day cruise to the Caribbean with my parents, my two sisters, and our spouses. Two of Rhonda’s kids and their spouses also came along, and Ro-Ro’s 15-month-old granddaughter, Joanna. We tried to do it all – the food, the beaches, the excursions, the entertainment, the sun, the water. There is video out there of me in a Karaoke club belting out Tom Petty’s “Breakdown” and struggling to reach a couple of notes that were higher than I anticipated. You’ll not find that video here. Instead, a few carefully selected shots of our Stanglin family cruise.
The adventure began with my nephew Paul’s wedding to the lovely Tara in beautiful Liberty Hill, Texas. It was an outdoor wedding at 3:00 in the afternoon during the last week of May in Central Texas. But the effects of the heat were mitigated mightily by the magnificent oak tree and the icy Dr Pepper served up in the frosted glass bottles.
From there, we drove down to Galveston and boarded the Carnival Dream, a 133-ton, 12-story ship that holds 3,700 passengers and 1,200 crew members. I think they were all in line for the pizza at the same time every day.
We snorkeled in Cozumel. Carrie-Anne and Sharon got their hair braided in Belize. We negotiated with shop owners in Costa Maya. We went to the comedy club five nights in a row. We made all the requisite Love Boat jokes and references. We ordered two and three appetizers and entrees at dinner. We played ping pong and miniature golf. We alternately romped and relaxed at several different beaches and resorts. We made fun of the cruise director. We met a lot of great people, mostly from different parts of Texas. We saw gorgeous sunsets. We competed in trivia. We ate alligator nuggets and fried frog legs. We tried a lot of different cakes. We celebrated my dad’s upcoming 80th birthday. And we slept really well.
Cruising makes sense to me now. I can clearly see the appeal. I don’t know exactly what my parents paid for us to do this together, but I think the cost per day – which includes lodging, food, and entertainment – was less than it takes to get a hotel room. I can’t see myself becoming one of those people who cruise all the time, two or three times a year. But I won’t be surprised if C-A and I find ourselves on a ship again in the near future. And I’ll be singing something from a little later in Tom Petty’s catalogue, something from Full Moon Fever or Into the Great Wide Open. A little more in my range.