It probably sounds strange to say that a cruise ship with over 3,000 people onboard is a great place to get away from it all — I mean, yes, it’s more like you’re plunged into a teeming mass of humanity, and despite the truly jaw-dropping size of the ship you’re constantly darting through crowds and lining up in great Purell-drenched droves for meals — but I think there’s a comforting sort of anonymity that comes with the bustle. At least if you’re an antisocial creeper like I am, who greatly prefers to hole up with a book and surreptitiously observe the activity rather than participate in any of it.

Also comforting is the gentle rocking movement of the ship, at least I think it is. The popularity of Sea-Bands tells me not everyone feels this way, but this was my fourth cruise and I’ve always been pleasantly lulled by the sway and churn, even on bumpier nights when everyone’s footsteps take on a comical avoiding-the-sandworm stagger-pattern.

I am blessed with not only a crippling inability to make small talk, but also no sense of direction whatsoever, which makes for a double whammy on a ginormous ocean liner filled with 1) friendly people looking for sparkling conversation, and 2) a stateroom that’s approximately 278 nautical miles from, say, the nearest deck chair. You know that awkward moment when you’re the only person in a hallway with someone heading your direction, and you’re never sure when to start smiling at them? Too early and you’re forced to hold a maniacal toothy grin for a horrific amount of time, too late and you’re a standoffish shitweasel. Probably the most stressful part of the trip were my many scurries along a hall with no end in sight, clenching bloody crescents into my palms as I desperately tried to calculate juuuuuuust the right moment to look up and arrange my features into some sort of confident ahoy-there expression that conveyed “Warm greetings” rather than “Please baby Jesus let’s just smile and not actually speak because if I have to expend one more iota of effort I’m just going to hurl myself off the lido deck, while stopping at the dessert table for another plate of brownies of course because I paid to gain ten pounds, by god, not five.”

Gosh, am I making cruising sounding fun and relaxing yet? Oh, I swear, it really is. And I’m sure you’re much better at humaning than I am.

I passed on the plethora of origami classes, scrapbooking seminars, and karaoke performances, but I did make my way onto the ship’s ice rink at one point, because come on, there was an ice rink. I love the idea of the Royal Caribbean execs sitting around brainstorming the most WTF feature to add. “Bull riding …? NASCAR. No, wait, a Costco. Or how about Frisbee golf? No no no, I’ve got it — ICE SKATING. Haaaaa, just picture these buffet-fattened fools careening around the rink on formal night.” I was exactly as awesome at ice skating as I figured I’d be, which is to say I wobbled violently along the wall for about two and half minutes before my legs went all Bambi, but I can now mark that particular experience off the Bad Idea Bucket List I don’t actually have, which is to say if I ever am forced to make such a list, I can immediately pencil in “ice skate on a moving cruise ship within a matter of months after breaking my tibia” and check it with a flourish.

(Hmm, I realize I’ve missed some commentary here. Short story: I fractured a bone back in May and spent quite a bit of time in an impressive Robocop-like brace. I’m pretty much all healed up, although I suspect my right leg may always be a little gimpy compared to the left. “Well, it’s just shitty now,” as Louis C.K. says in his bit about seeing a doctor after you’ve turned forty.)

A week with my mom and aunt was an absolute gift — oh, they are wonderful to be around, and conversation is particularly stress-free with them since we’re all on the same side of the political fence, which is, ah, a bit of a novelty for me these days — and I also enjoyed all the opportunities I had to strike out on my own, whether that was hopping on a boat in Victoria or simply lolling on my balcony and watching the waves go by. A true highlight was the private tour the three of us went on in San Francisco, hosted by an unforgettable gentleman named Holger. He not only drove us to a delightful number of sites, including a few stops I’m sure I wouldn’t have thought of on my own (the cable car museum and Lucasfilm HQ were equally great), he kept up a running German-accented chatter that charmed us silly, while all the while a music compilation he’d made ahead of time somehow magically narrated every twist and turn. “Now you know,” he said at one point as his van climbed a hill so steep I felt my eyeballs crash into the back of my skull, “Vat goes up … must come down!” before stomping on the gas and flying nose-down over the top as we shrieked in terror/delight, the gorgeous city tilted all around us, and the speakers dramatically swelled with some perfectly-chosen orchestral piece — Carl Orff’s “O My Loosening Bowels,” perhaps.

I’m not sure I’ve ever seen San Fransisco when it wasn’t draped in fog, and we lucked out with two perfectly sunny days. Victoria was also cheery and blue-skied and impossibly quaint, and even the fact that I ended up canvassing pretty much the entire city on a repeated search for my return shuttle to the ship (“Just look for the bus at the same place we dropped you off!” turned out to be something of a polite pile of maple-scented mooseshit) was fine, because it was so nice to be walking in such a pretty locale and having multiple excuses to stop back in the Lush store I kept passing.

All in all, it was a wonderful vacation, and a rare treat to get away from my children long enough to miss every single thing about them, even the Nerf darts, cast-off socks, and cracker crumbs they leave wherever they go. Life has returned to its usual unglamorous cycle of laundry and homework-helping, but I came home with so many happy memories. A+++, would cruise again.

sunrise from my balcony

(PS: If you’re still seeing spammy dick-pill links, I am so sorry, a tech-savvy Good Samaritan is working on it for me and it should be fixed soon.)


15 Responses to “I went on a cruise and now you get to hear allllllll about it”

  1. Katie on September 29th, 2016 6:46 pm

    So glad you had a great time! Happy to see you in my inbox! Hope you are well!!

  2. Kelly on September 29th, 2016 7:04 pm

    Hooray! This made my night to see a post from you and also because I’m taking my first cruise in November.

  3. Stacy on September 29th, 2016 7:14 pm

    As soon as I saw your email come in I clicked and started reading. It sounds awesome, glad to hear from you again.

  4. Oregoncoastgirl/ Stephanie on September 29th, 2016 8:18 pm

    Love it.

  5. Tina on September 29th, 2016 10:32 pm

    I’ve missed your writing!

  6. Donna Brubach on September 30th, 2016 4:17 am

    I love you so much. I’ve missed you here and didn’t realize just how much till today. I totally get the down the hall thing too. On the other hand? You’ll never see them again so whatever right?

  7. Wendy on September 30th, 2016 7:57 am

    Linda, you are SUCH a good writer. Absolutely loved (and related to) this — you’ve made me consider a cruise, which is something I swore I’d never do!

  8. Jeanette on September 30th, 2016 8:16 am

    What’s not to love about a cruise? Glad you had a good time! Your post was it’s usual entertainment in itself!

  9. Brooke on September 30th, 2016 9:42 am

    I have missed your blog SO MUCH! You write exactly what I think about the hallways!!!

  10. Kathy on September 30th, 2016 11:47 am

    Your writing is a gift and I enjoy it so much! So glad you are back!

  11. Cathy on September 30th, 2016 5:39 pm

    What a trip!! I love the Northwest and dream of heading to a western Canada someday.
    So happy to read your writing again.

  12. Mike Wilson on September 30th, 2016 9:51 pm

    Hallways. Man, that is EXACTLY what goes through my mind!

  13. Holger - the German TourMonkey on September 30th, 2016 10:02 pm

    Oh, Donna !
    What a great treat it was having you three on tour. Guests like you make this job REALLY FUN. We had such a good time.

    Yah, you write so refreshingly “normal”. I can FEEL what you are writing. The hallway-encounter …. I always hope that that passenger pulls out the key card and disappears in one of the many cabins long before long before coming too close.

    I guess you can also write about some delicious situations at the buffet :)

    I just did send you the pictures from our tour weher you are helping to hold the Golden-Gate-Bridge up.

    Vat goes up….



  14. kate on October 1st, 2016 4:16 pm

    for the hallways, just don’t smile at all, until you are within conversational distance of them. Then look directly at them, say some version of “good morning/hi/good afternoon”, smile at them, and keep walking.

  15. AnneLindy on October 24th, 2016 5:56 pm

    How did I miss all this! Welcome back!

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