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A Sea-Worthy Graduation Gift
(Please note: At no time were I or my family provided any compensation for our trip. We paid full fares.)
Our elder child, Sean, graduated from high school last May, and grandma flew in from 2000 miles away to attend the ceremony. Her visit to us obviated the need to spend our budgeted summer vacation dollars traveling to her, so it seemed like a great idea to cross off a longstanding item, cruising, from our bucket list.
(Longtime readers will know I covered cruiseship travel for college students, the famous Semester at Sea, in an earlier post!)
As cruise “n00bs,” my family and I had only a minimal idea of what to expect. Speaking with seafaring friends/bloggers and thoroughly perusing cruise-related Pinterest pins helped assuage our fears tremendously!
At this point I may as well admit I’m a huge introvert. So, um… hi, my name is Maggie, and I’m an introvert (INTP, to be exact). Nice to meet you!
It should be noted that, at least in my case, introversion does NOT mean that I don’t like spending time with people! I do, very much! But this is not how I get my energy; to the contrary, too much socializing, while great fun, is draining for me. After several hours of it you’ll probably find me curled up in a cozy, quiet corner reading something.
Re-charge me, please
Alone time is how I re-charge my batteries, every bit as necessary for me as an iPhone charger is to read that pure white battery symbol in the upper right corner of your screen. I’m not alone, at least, in my introversion. There are 25-40% of us, or more, in the general population! Are you one, too?
Having brought up my least sociable personality quirk, I think it’s probably obvious that INTROVERSION and FUN SHIPS don’t seem like terms that belong together in the same sentence. What prompted me to book my family on a FUN SHIP? What could I possibly have been thinking, given that they probably had a strict YOU. WILL. HAVE. FUN. policy that I would surely rebel against at every heave of the powerful engines?
Cruisin’ Fun for Everyone
Luckily, not long after boarding the crowded, vivacious Fantasy, I developed some great tips for folks like me who just need some reasonable space of their own from time to time. I think these ideas dovetail quite nicely with ways to overcome any awkwardness at meeting strangers on board.
Now there is no excuse to languish on shore, waving a tearful bon voyage to those outgoing cruise-happy friends of yours. Join ‘em! I hope these tips will help you fellow introverts and reluctant wallflowers have a wonderful time on your cruise!
- Download music and podcasts, and bring, at a minimum, 2 forms of non electronic entertainment (books, puzzles, etc)
You’re not leaving your fully-charged iPhone at home, are you? Accessing the Internet is sketchy, at best, on board, but you’ll want to stay connected to your electronic minder just the same. Enjoy the double whammy: Listening to what YOU want to listen to… and not appearing to want to converse with others!
- Find and watch a YouTube video of a tour of your ship. This will help familiarize yourself with what is where (dining & entertainment options) before you board
No one likes that awkward feeling when they don’t know where they’re going, even on terra firma. Acquaint yourself beforehand for an extra boost of confidence on the ship!
- Find and study a sample cruise ship schedule posted online.
Discuss with friends and family what type of activities appeal most to you, both on board and at port. Trivia? Hairy Chest Contest? Mini Golf?
But be forewarned, available activities and events on your actual sailing may vary from what you find online. That’s okay; you’ll at least have a springboard for discussion. Be willing to compromise!
- Do an activity on board or in port that you wouldn’t do at home.
On all but the most sedate of cruise ships, you should have the opportunity to expand your horizons and do things you can’t do at home. You’ll get the chance to belt your heart out at the karaoke bar, cartwheel around the sunbaked jogging track, play 3-D games… and so much more. Psychologists have suggested several reasons why stepping out of your comfort zone improves your quality of life immeasurably. Your cruise is the perfect chance to stretch your wings and find new enjoyment in life!
- Think ahead of time about things you can converse about with your fellow passengers
Ask folks where they’re from, whether they’ve cruised before, favorite area on the ship, what to do at the ports, what the best food has been so far.
- Ask your room steward for suggestions on where to relax onboard that’s secluded and quiet
Your room steward is eager to please – you plan to tip him or her well, right? – and is a terrific source of information literally at your fingertips.
- Traveling with others? Choose “Your Time Dining” and share a table with only them. Traveling solo? Sit at the Captain’s table at least once for a terrific opportunity to get to know fellow cruisers.
- Wear apparel with a motto/special meaning/verbiage to you.
Outgoing folks will chat you up, using your Psychotic State University t-shirt as an icebreaker to get to know you better.
- If you can stand smoke, frequent the smoking areas often.
Usually the same people come thru often, they love kindred spirits, and you can get to know people very easily that way.
- Splurge on a balcony room!
There is really no substitute for having your own space to relax, sip a cup of coffee and read your favorite book in peace and quiet, with only the sun and sea to keep you company!
Fun means different things to different people, after all, so enjoy your mandatory fun however you want! What tips would you add? Let me know in the comments, below!