A year ago I would have told you that I would never take a vacation on a cruise ship. It seems like there’s a news story every week about one cruise liner or another suffering some calamity. Food poisoning, fire, sinking, pirates, being adrift without power or facilities for days at a time, getting turned upside down by tsunamis. Okay, maybe all of these aren’t true stories, but that’s what the newsfeed sounded like to me at the time.

Uh-uh. No way. Not taking a cruise ever. Even the thought of being in the middle of the ocean beyond the sight of land made me feel ill at ease.

Cut to the chase. I just got back from my first cruise this past Sunday, after embarking the previous Sunday. And we had a blast.

Seriously. I enjoyed this vacation. I got plenty of rest and came back feeling refreshed and relaxed. And we had a lot of fun.

And a few unplanned adventures.

Our original plan was to leave central Arkansas early on Saturday in order to make the eight-hour drive to Galveston, Texas, in the daylight hours. That plan was destroyed a day or so before when I found out that I was scheduled to work at 4:30 Saturday morning. Since our work week at the USPS starts on Saturday, I assumed our vacations did as well. In fact, I had been told that they did by my shop steward, who, as it turns out, was wrong. My vacation wasn’t scheduled to begin until Sunday. This was my first week-long paid vacation since I started at the post office almost two years ago, you see. Live and learn. This meant I had to work eight hours Saturday morning before making the drive. Then I had to drive in the dark through Houston, which isn’t even fun during the day, and we arrived to discover Galveston in full Mardi Gras party mode, which delayed our arrival at our hotel. We were road-weary and just plain tired.

We were up early the next day. We had priority boarding since we had a suite. We dropped off our luggage at the ship and then drove our car to the parking garage. As priority guests, we got to leapfrog our way ahead of the masses, only to discover that we actually needed our passports to get past the check-in. Thinking we had packed our passports in the luggage, we made our way to where thousands of bags were being readied by the crew. After waiting a while for the very patient employees to find our bags among the others, my wife discovered that the passports were in her handbag all along. So we made the long trek back to the check-in station and then were allowed to eventually board the ship.

That bit of unpleasantness past us, we proceeded to enjoy our vacation.

Despite inauspicious beginnings, it was a wonderful vacation. We were on board the Carnival Breeze with a long-time mutual friend and her sister, who are veteran cruisers. As neophytes, this was an invaluable resource for us. We didn’t spend all of our time on board with our friends, though. We usually met up for supper around six in the evening, then enjoyed a show and further late-night entertainment. My wife and I aren’t really Theater people. We don’t actively seek out musicals or stage plays, but we enjoyed the acts we saw on board. Later at night, we saw comedians or karaoke or live music.

We didn’t do a lot of dancing, but we did do a lot of drinking. We had purchased the daily Cheers program, which covered up to 15 drinks a day, I think. Neither of us reached that goal, but I believe we got our money’s worth anyway.

The majority of the time we spent relaxing on the ship. There was lots and lots of good food. Great weather throughout. The movement of the ship didn’t bother either of us. In fact, it was the best sleep either of us have gotten in a long time.

We went ashore in Jamaica and took an excursion there to an old sugarcane plantation. That was kind of neat, although Jamaica doesn’t seem to be the type of place you’d want to stroll through as a tourist. I did have one guy offer to sell me weed; I chose not to partake. The Cheers program was enough to cure what ailed me.

We were unable to disembark at the Cayman Islands because of rough seas. The ship doesn’t dock at Seven Mile Beach, but sends tourists to shore by tender, which is a nautical term meaning a smaller vessel. The ocean was too rowdy to allow this, so we were unable to take the excursion we had planned here.

No such problems at Cozumel. We were able to go ashore in Mexico. We did a little shopping but no excursions here. I’m glad. Our friends barely made it back to the ship in time. I couldn’t handle that kind of stress.

As fun as it was to see the islands, it was our time on board the Breeze that was most enjoyable. The staff really understands what customer service is all about, and is always friendly and courteous. And the guests are all having a good time, too. I lost both my cell phone (which you can’t use on board anyway) and my Cheers card on separate occasions during the trip, but never felt really stressed about it. My cell phone was at lost and found at Guest Services by the end of the same day I misplaced it. And the Cheers card was, naturally, at the last place I got a drink. No harm, no foul.

Would I recommend a cruise to my family and friends? Certainly. It was the most restful vacation I’ve had in recent memory.

Would I go on another cruise?

Yes. Yes, I would.

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