The Whole Story Of My First Cruise Trip
At the urging of Mike, I have decided to tell the whole story of my first cruise trip. There are a few things I should disclose before I convey to you how the trip transformed me and made my life better.
The first thing to know is that I had a marriage dissolve after 12 years over a year and a half ago. The second thing you need to know is that I suffer from bipolar disorder. The third thing is that I am a recovering alcoholic. The combination of these things has made just dealing with everyday life not the easiest thing in the world.
So when Mike got back from his latest cruise, I was in the middle of dealing with whatever I could. I should tell you that Mike has told me several times how much I should go on a cruise with him and his wife. So when he returned from his latest cruise, he once again began telling me how much I needed to go especially at this point in my life. Something clicked that day, and I agreed to go with them on their next voyage.
Well, it didn’t take Mike long to begin planning the next trip and before I knew I had put a deposit down and started on my way to the point of no return. As difficulty would arise in life, I always found myself trying to talk myself out of going on the trip. My local support group comprised of my parents, my sister and my beautiful six-year-old daughter all kept encore raging me that taking the trip was a necessity. So I kept moving along and kept my eyes on the prize of boarding that ship. Once the trip was paid in full, and the flight was booked there really was no turning back. All of this didn’t stop me from worrying about everything from money, to be able to stay in contact with my daughter to what would happen if something befell one of my parents. But move through it I did.
I made it to the airport, and this should have started the beginning of easing into the vacation. That was until I saw that my exes grandmother and aunt and uncle were on the same flight as me to my first layover in Atlanta. Again, all of this just added to my anxiety and called for an anxiety pill to make it through the 2-hour flight from Buffalo to Atlanta. I quickly found my way to the flight to Greenville where I would meet Mike and vacation would indeed begin.
The next morning we headed out early for the port of Jacksonville, and when I should have been sleeping, I found myself a little to keyed up to catch any sleep. Before long we made it to Jacksonville and made our way to the launch point. Once again anxiety reared its ugly head as the crowds of people and making my way through customs felt slightly overwhelming. But before long I was all cleared with my room key and the all clear to make my way onto the ship.
Not knowing what to expect I boarded the ship following Mike’s lead and finally began to let myself come to ease. I was looking forward to just settling into my room and resting after the long journey, but unbeknown to me our rooms weren’t ready yet. We made our way into the crowded buffet eating area and decided to have some food until the room was available. My tiredness was starting to catch up to me at this point, and finally, we were able to make our way to our rooms. I put my things down opened the curtains of the window to take a look out and then laid on the bed where I promptly fell asleep. Then I was unexpectedly woken up for our muster drill of which I had no idea about and while half asleep I made my way through. Then back to the room where my suitcase was awaiting me, and again I laid on the bed for a little more shut-eye.
Mike made his way to my room, and we decided to take a slight tour of the ship so I could get a sense of what I was in for. As our first real active it’s we took in a live game show and I got a sense of the high energy fun that was available on the boat. We then made our way for some trivia where Mike’s wife won by knowing more about I Love Lucy than people twice her age.
The difficulties did not disappear as I saw people everywhere enjoying cocktails and drinks that made my old desires rise back up in me slightly, but I was determined not to give in. This was my biggest test to date, and I knew if I could pass it, any situation was possible. I knew that I couldn’t let my alcoholism keep me from living life to the fullest and that is what I planned to do. I took to having tonic water for the night. I commented to Mike that if they happen to accidentally put vodka or gin in with it that I would just have to deal with it. Mike then commented, “if they do I’m dumping that drink right out on the floor.” I knew at that point that not drinking was NOT going to be a problem.
The first night ended with him and me watching the band on the ship and observing people, so fall-down drunk that we couldn’t decide whether the band or the dancers were more entertaining. This also reaffirmed the fact that not only did I not want to be one of those people that night, I also didn’t want their hangover in the morning.
Then came the first part of the cruise that started to make me fall in love with cruising. When I went back to my room, I laid on the bed and felt the boat rocking side to side ever so slightly. This lulled me into a deep sleep that I hadn’t felt in so long I couldn’t even remember. I woke up refreshed and ready for breakfast. With Mike and his wife still sound asleep I made my way to the breakfast buffet. I enjoyed all the food I could eat and sit with a cup of coffee just starring out at the blue ocean as we made our way to our first destination. I knew at this point I was going to enjoy this trip, but I still didn’t know just how much.
When day three rolled around, we had our first of two stops at the private island of Half Moon Cay. This is where serenity finally took over. I hadn’t seen the ocean in at least 15 years, and I would say it had been 20 years since I had set foot in that salted water. Water never felt so good. The sun never felt so comforting. Every ounce of anxiety and depression I had been carrying with me for the last ten years at least, just washed right away. The sights that met my eyes, the smells of pure unadulterated air put me physically and mentally in the exact place I needed to be. I never once had a thought about the weight of life enter my mind. The only thing I thought of related to everyday life was that I wished my daughter had been there to see that beauty with me.
I returned to the ship that evening more serene and relaxed than I can ever remember. The trip from there on out I carried so semblance of that with me.
Our next stop was Nassau and while not quite the paradise that Half Moon Cay it still had the relaxing effect I needed. Being in places so far away took me far away from the weight of life that I didn’t know how badly I needed it.
My trip inevitably came to an end. But I couldn’t be sad about it. I had done something solely for me, something selfish. I still carry feelings of that with me three weeks later, and that is the most ringing endorsement that this bi-polar, recovering alcoholic, can give the value of a cruise. I understand that not everyone will have the same experience, but all I can say is it was worth every ounce of anxiety I had leading up to it and I can’t thank my best friends Mike and his wife Tabitha for getting me on that plane and then on that boat. It changed me for the better.