I recently returned from my 22nd cruise. I don’t say that number to brag, I’m just stating a fact. The first 21 cruises were alcohol drink-fests. And when I mean I drank … in the olden days, before the Internet, your final bill would be shoved under your cabin door the last evening of the cruise. There were times when they had to split my bill into several different packets to be able to fit it under the door. I’m not kidding. And I was proud of it. "Look how many pages my bar bill was!! How many pages was yours?"
This was my first sober cruise, and I was a little anxious. Firsts are always the hardest. So I knew I might face some obstacles, but I was looking forward to the experience of a no-hangover cruise. What would that even be like? Let me give you a preview… it was AMAZING! These are some of the observations I made during those 14 days with eyes wide open...
I slept great. I usually do sleep well on cruises. I think it’s the ocean air and the gentle rocking of the ship. (Though on this cruise we had a bit more than a “gentle” rocking!) We also had a few times where we had to change our clocks either forward or back, which always screws me up. But this time it wasn’t a big deal at all.
I stuck to my workout schedule. I worked out on my balcony almost every morning before we hit port. I saw sunrises, whales, and dolphins from my balcony -- all things I would have missed had I been drinking, because instead of working out, I would have pulled the covers over my head and begged for a few more hours of sleep.
We took a sailboat tour in Cabo San Lucas. The alcohol was flowing from the moment we stepped on board. My drinks of the day were diet sprite and water.
We had a fantastic day just relaxing in the sun on the boat. As we were slowly sailing back to port, we saw some whales – even a mama, baby, and daddy whale just swimming alongside us. But the best part was when a whale breached right in front of me. I couldn’t believe it. I figured he wouldn’t do it again – but he did, and we got the pics to prove it!
The picture above is now the background image on our computer. Every time I sit at the computer it reminds me that if I had been drinking, I would have missed THIS. THIS is why I don’t drink anymore. I would have been so drunk by this time on the tour that the whole day would have been a blur, or I would have been sleeping (like some of the other people on the boat), or I would have been too busy getting a refill or going to the bathroom to see it. Instead, I was clear-headed, squealing and giggling like a little girl as this guy did about a dozen huge tail flaps after his breach. It was AWESOME!
In Mazatlan I was sitting in the cruise terminal people-watching, enjoying my Topo Chico, when I observed a very obviously intoxicated man – goofy grin, could hardly stand up on his own -- stumbling through the terminal, leaning on his partner, laughing hysterically. I felt sorry for him. I’VE BEEN HIM more times than I care to count. I knew he was in for a rough day tomorrow. Would he even remember his time in Mazatlan? I'll remember my fun day there!
A Touch of Envy
Around 4:30 every day I saw the same couple sitting at one of the tables on the lido deck by the pool having a glass of wine. That made me a little envious. Wait, what? Why? I had to catch myself. I have over two years of sobriety under my belt, so it wasn’t a craving per se. I don’t even like wine. I never really acquired a taste for it. I tolerated white wine and didn’t like red at all. It was the fast, even buzz I could get from it that I liked about it (until it became a stupor). So why would I want that on my vacation? How could a liquid in a glass make that moment any better? Why do we put alcohol on such a pedestal? Why do we romanticize it so much? I credit alcohol advertising for hammering it into my brain that the evening just isn’t complete without a drink. But I know from experience that soon after the idyllic scenes in those ads, things turn ugly quickly. My envy didn’t last long.
Our cruise ended in Vancouver. My husband wanted to see us sail into Vancouver because it is a gorgeous sail-in. So we decided to get up early – like 5:30 a.m. early. I never would have done that before, because I would have been up late partying the night before to “get the most out of my last night.” Ugggh. I’ve spent many a last cruise night in the bar doing tequila shots, and then having a horrid flight home the next day. This was SO much better. I watched us sail in. I ran all around the ship getting different angles and looking at the beautiful scenery. I would have missed all of it.
I saw more sunrises on this cruise than I’ve ever seen in my entire life! I remember everything. No blackouts. No regrets. That’s a first. If I ever doubt my decision to quit drinking, all I have to do is look at that whale breaching, and it reminds me that I don’t want to waste one more minute of my life drinking a substance that could make me miss or even forget something so spectacular! So if you’re anxious about going on a sober vacation, embrace it. You never know when something breathtaking is going to happen right in front of you, but you’ll be awake and alert and ready to squeal and giggle like a little girl when it does!