It came as quickly as it ended; an eight-day cruise stretching from Cape Liberty, New Jersey, to Bermuda, Nassau, and CocoCay has finally concluded. Upon seeing the familiar Verazzano Bridge tower above my head during the return trip, it dawned on me just how much I have learned and experienced while cruising. Cruising on Royal Caribbean's definitely opened my eyes and gave me a taste of what the life of the bourgeoisie is like.
Firstly (no pun intended), a cruise ship is essentially a floating hotel, with the added waterslides, flowrider, pools, and seasickness. While I am no stranger to the above three, cruising introduced me to the pleasures of seasickness. When I previously discussed seasickness with a fellow coworker regarding the voyage, "This won't happen to me, don't worry," coursed through my head. I haven't been sick on boats or ferries before, but this cruise changed everything. While on the stretch from New Jersey to Bermuda, the North Atlantic Ocean became choppier than near the coastal areas, rocking the ship harder than usual. I felt nothing on the first day, only to wake up to a throbbing migraine and a sense of drunkenness. Medication did help, but I needed to take a breather on that day.
Secondly, I was so intrigued by just how different of a lifestyle I was thrust into. Most people cruising are well-off in life, and many have already acquired a large retirement fund that is partially used for cruising. My family is not the most well-off, but we manage, and we all felt that the lifestyle was extremely pampering. There were hundreds of crew members waiting hand and foot for each passenger, doing the grunt work behind the scenes so that the passengers would enjoy a smooth and comfortable experience. Hell, we didn't even have to put our dishes into a dish return tray, make our beds each morning, or even worry about not knowing what the next day's programs were; everyone was basically treated like royalty. Honestly, it was quite the transition back to our normal lives when the cruise ended and we were no longer spoiled.
Thirdly, I learned the basics of scuba diving! Although I have snorkeled in the past, it was interesting to be strapped to an oxygen tank and a buoyancy control device that would let me breathe underwater (the technique is just like with snorkeling) and either float or sink. I don't have much experience using flippers for locomotion, so adjusting to them warranted a learning curve. I hope to one day become certified so that I may explore the ocean depths until my body just can't take any more pressure.
Lastly, I enjoyed snorkeling with, touching, holding, and feeding stingrays. On one excursion on Royal Caribbean's private island of CocoCay, my father and I were whisked off to a shallow enclosure in the ocean via speedboat, which was home to dozens of stingrays that were accustomed to humans. These stingrays constantly brushed up against my fellow tourists and did not shy away from people petting them. It was so nice to feel a stingray's scales and underbelly; they felt so rubbery and made the stingrays look extremely cute and cuddly.
Of course, many still had barbs, but those weren't a danger (three rubbed against me and I'm still alive). I've had two rays swim between my legs as I struggled to maintain my balance in this ergosphere. Holding them was a treat; as long as you don't tense your arms, the rays will be calm. They also nearly gave me hickeys when I fed them calamari due to the immense suction created by their mouths. Overall, that experience made my cruise even more special.
Cruising certainly was an amazing experience that unlocked so many doors for me. Although I don't intend to do this often, I understand just why cruising is such a luxury and why people do it so frequently. I truly appreciate this voyage for giving me so many opportunities and experiences that have taught me so much over the past eight days at sea.