Thursday, April 20, 2006
This time last year, my family was on a Carnival Cruise in the Caribbean. We had just finished putting a major addition on to our house and really couldn't afford to go, but it was one of those once in a life time chances and we really didn't want to miss it. Four other families from town, (all who had daughters on my youngest's softball team), were planning on going and they were kind enough to invite us along. We decided that this would be a good opportunity to get to know these families better and do a little bonding. My wife hates boats and gets sea-sick very easily but she decided to suck it up, take Bonine (which after considerable research on the internet outdoes Dramamine), and give it a try.
In preparation for the cruise, my wife and I joined the gym and went on the South Beach Diet. We each lost about 20 lbs. Since we are both melanin challenged, we also started going to a tanning salon to get a base tan before laying out in the Caribbean sun. After two months of primping and preening, I started telling the softball moms that I was going to be "eye-candy. "
"Wait 'till you see me in my Speedo!" I kidded them. "You won't be able to keep your hands off me!" This usually got a big round of chuckles from the ladies--Especially from my wife!
After several weeks of preparation, the departure date finally arrived. Our friend Nancy (otherwise known as Julie McCoy, our Cruise Director) and her husband, Kevin, made up yellow tee shirts for all of us. On the shirt's upper left hand corner was a logo that read "Connecticut Cruisers." These shirts served a dual purpose. It helped us stay together and also made us all feel like one cohesive unit.
I remember feeling pretty FRESH as I stood in line waiting to board our ship, the Carnival Victory, at The Port of Miami. I was TAN and I was BUFF. I had even "Naired" the hair off my back. Yeah, I was looking GOOD!
My ego was quickly deflated when one of my fellow Connecticut Cruisers approached me and said, "You really should have tried a tanning bed to get a base tan before the cruise." I told him that I just spent the last two months, three days a week, at the tanning salon and I pulled down the waist of my shorts to show him evidence of my Irish tan. Being Italian, he found this VERY amusing and he doubled over in laughter.
This would not be the my last humiliating experience on this cruise.
After boarding the ship and checking out our cabins, the next thing we Connecticut Cruisers did was put on our bathing suits and head up to the Lido deck for a little sun. All of the ladies quickly laid claim to the nearest row of chaise lounges, a Margarita in one hand and the latest bestseller in the other.
Before I took off my shirt, I thought it only fair to warn them:
"Are any of you diabetic?" I asked. "I don't want to send you into sugar shock when you get a load of this eye-candy."
They didn't even bother to look up from their books.
This was our first cruise and we were a little apprehensive about going. My wife has always hated boats and worried that she would get sea sick. Everyone I talked to about cruising promised us that we wouldn't feel a thing. "Nothing to worry about! Wait until you see the size of the ship," my friend Carl told me. "It's a floating city. You won't feel a thing."
I thought of Carl's statements later that first night of the cruise (right at dinner time) when our ship, heading straight into an enormous storm, swayed up and down while at the same time pitching back and forth. Magically, out of nowhere it seemed, there were strategically placed barf bag holders throughout the hallways and elevators. My wife sat down, head between her knees, crying on the Lido Deck--too dizzy to get up and walk. "What was I thinking?! How am I ever going to survive the week?" She cried. About an hour later, frozen but finally feeling a little better, we headed to the buffet line where she quickly downed the forbidden carbs--bread and rice--with a few others from our group who had never made it to the dining room earlier either.
A little later we went back to our cabin where the room continued to sway. We tried to get some sleep, but my wife grabbed hold of my arm digging me with her newly manicured fingernails, every time the ship smashed into a wave. The metal of the ship seemed to groan and twist. We could almost picture the rivets popping. Water crashed against the picture window. Needless to say, it was a long night!
We awoke the next morning to hear reports on CNN how the Norwegian Dawn had been hit by 80 foot waves that had taken out windows and flooded cabins from the same storm. The rest of our friends, knowing how my wife had reservations about going in the first place, tried to hide this fact from her--not knowing she had already seen the reports. Interestingly enough, she was one of the few in our group who did not actually throw up! She attributes that to her research and the wonders of Bonine!
The second day of the cruise the seas calmed and the cloudless sky turned a deep blue. I met up with my friend Art, who was wearing a green tee shirt that read: I AM THE MAN FROM NANTUCKET (this referred to the limerick about a well endowed man). He told me that while he was standing in the breakfast buffet line, a portly middle-aged woman stood in front of him. She kept turning around, looking at his tee-shirt and smiling. As he piled his plate with scrambled eggs and sausage, the woman turned around and whispered in his ear, "Why don't you come up to cabin 232 and prove it." Being that Art is a happily married man, he didn't take her up on her offer, but she haunted him for the rest of the cruise.
While standing on deck, Art and I discussed our plans for the week. Half of the Connecticut Cruisers had made reservations to go on a catamaran cruise off the coast of St. Martin and Art asked us if we wanted to join them.
"No," I said. "I think my wife has had enough of boats."
"So...What do you have planned for St Martin?" He asked.
"You should go to Orient Beach," he said. "It's a nude beach!"
"Oh, I'm sure my wife and daughters would just love that!" I said sarcastically.
"Hey, you're on vacation!" he said.
"Then why aren't you going? I asked, now pointing at his "Nantucket" tee shirt. "Are you worried about getting charged with false advertising?"
After breakfast he changed his shirt.