I’ve been home from my first cruise for 2 weeks now. I needed to process everything that happened and read Scripture before I wrote about it. Be forewarned that this is the longest post I’ve ever written.
Let me begin with how superb the Royal Caribbean staff was. From the moment we went aboard, the entire crew was concerned for our comfort. They seemed genuinely worried about me when I became seasick, and our waiter sent up green apples and crackers when I was unable to finish my dinner. Our stateroom attendant, Pat, kept asking my daughter how I was doing because I slept 12 hours straight. Each and every RCC staff member was extremely helpful and polite.
Our stateroom attendant worked meticulously to keep our room clean; she must have gone in there at least 4 times a day. Each time we saw Pat, she would inquire how our meal was or how our day was going. Not only did Pat clean and straighten our room, but she also put fresh towels in our room while we were at dinner — I honestly believe Pat made it her mission to ensure that we never had to use a towel more than once! On our last cruise night I could see that she and the other stateroom attendants were all extremely busy preparing for our disembarkment and getting things ready for a fresh batch of cruisers, so I told Pat that we didn’t need anything and she didn’t have to go in our room. She nodded, but that sweet, hardworking lady still went in and changed out our towels! Besides fresh towels, each evening she would turn on the reading lights over our beds and store away our bed coverlets. Her towel animals were adorable.
I had researched from 3 different sources about the sights to see on Nassau and found a highly rated taxi service to take us around the entire island. None of my reading prepared me for the extreme poverty on one half of island with the other half filled with designer stores, restaurants and bars to pull in tourists. The mansions and lavish hotels such as Atlantis were too difficult to admire after we had seen tiny, rundown shacks of the poor. We learned that the big attraction to Nassau is the shopping, which is strategically placed within walking distance from where passengers get off the ships (I believe there were 4 ships docked the day we were there). After our 3 1/2 hour taxi tour, my daughter and I only shopped for a few simple gifts, and chose to spend most of our money on conch shells sold out of a boat by a local fisherman and eating delicious fried conch at a small local restaurant.
We were disgusted how tourists of all nationalities pushed and shoved their way on lines for excursions, to get back on the ships, and then again when we went through customs. And not just Americans — two who really stood out to me were a Chinese lady who deliberately cut in front of me and an Australian lady who pushed her way in front of me. When the Australian lady got in front of me she had left her children behind her, so I motioned to her teenagers to go on up with their mother. I then realized she that had also left her husband behind so I said, “Sir, you can get in front of us so you can wait with your family”. His teenage son replied, “He can stay back there.” After a few minutes he finally moved up with his family, probably embarrassed of his wife and son’s rudeness. Many more cut in front of us and I knew God was teaching me a lesson.
Luxury can create selfish, nasty human beings. Adults and children left their empty glasses and dirty plates all over the ship for the staff to pick up. I witnessed people eating food in the Jacuzzi and then the staff had to pick up their dishes left on the ledges of the Jacuzzi. Parents overindulged their children, leaving their teenagers to roam in an area designed specifically for teens and signing their younger children over to attendants in a special babysitting area to be entertained all day. Many of the children spoke rudely, too. As we were preparing to head to our cruise ship I saw a family all decked out in cute Disney swim trunks and tee shirts. When I told the oldest little boy (about 4 or 5 years old), “It sure looks like you all are in for some fun”, he replied to me in a very nasty tone, “Well, we are going on a Disney cruise.” Yes, that little boy did indeed put emphasis on “are”.
I will always treasure the time I got to spend with my daughter. We both enjoyed the delicious and beautifully prepared food — which, thankfully, I could not eat a lot of because I was dizzy and nauseous the entire time cruising and then 5 days after. The food was abundant, but we were pretty good about choosing to eat healthy fruit instead of the rich desserts. 😉 Besides spending time and relaxing with my dear daughter, my favorite part was watching the sunrise and sunset from the very top of the ship — the indescribable beauty of our Creator was breathtaking.
Our time on the cruise line’s private cay was also wonderful. We got up super early to go kayaking where we were able to see live conch, sting ray, and barracuda. Afterward, we trekked to the other side of the cay where there was only a handful of people and lounged under a palm tree that we got to call our own for a few hours. I could have spent days enjoying the sunshine, walking on soft sands, picking up shells, admiring the gorgeous blue/green ocean and watching the tiny hermit crabs scurry along the beach.
The desire to go on a cruise came from listening to many Christians who have gone on cruises, some who even go on them a few times a year. I honestly do not understand the draw. I know part of the reason I don’t understand is because I am not an extravagant person — I prefer to find my clothing on sale or at a thrift store. I don’t wear expensive jewelry, and wear a simple gold band and a silver ring with ichthus (Christian fish) on my ring finger instead of my diamond wedding ring. We rarely go out eat and it’s usually Chili’s or a salad from Wendy’s. Even though one of our airfares was paid for with points and one cruise fare was half-off, I realized cruising is just too much of a luxury for me.
The rudeness of the passengers on our ship and the other ships left a bitter taste in my mouth for cruising. I was also disappointed when passengers wouldn’t make small talk with me. When my daughter and I discussed all that had transpired on our cruise, my heart broke as she shared how no one would even speak to her when she explored the ship by herself the first night that I was so sick. The only person who started a conversation with me occurred on the third morning as I was watching the sunrise. I was enjoying my coffee and taking it all in, marveling at God’s beauty and thanking Him for allowing me to see it ( I am a former Long Islander living in Missouri now and I miss the ocean so much). This beautiful, white-haired lady walking by said to me, “Isn’t it gorgeous? We just don’t have sunrises like this in Missouri.” I chuckled and we talked a bit, and we found out we lived only an hour and half from each other. God’s provision always amazes me.
At first I thought I smelled (yes, I actually checked because I sweated profusely when I became seasick on the first night). It was definitely something about the cruise because I was able to make small talk with people in the airport, with passengers on the plane, and with the customs people. Maybe people were so unfriendly and rude because they were on expensive vacation and just wanted to be left alone? Maybe it was the type of people on the cruise?
As I shared my experience with an older lady from church, she asked me what I learned spiritually. Scripture says we are not to live life so lavishly. I am a servant first, and that was why I was so uncomfortable with the impeccable service. We are to serve others, not be served.
“You have lived on the earth in luxury and in self-indulgence.” James 5:5a (ESV)
“but she who is self-indulgent is dead even while she lives” 1 Timothy 5:6 (ESV)
“But if we have food and clothing, with these we will be content. But those who desire to be rich fall into temptation, into a snare, into many senseless and harmful desires that plunge people into ruin and destruction. For the love of money is a root of all kinds of evils. It is through this craving that some have wandered away from the faith and pierced themselves with many pangs.” 1 Timothy 6:8-10 (ESV)
So my question to Christians who cruise: Why do you enjoy cruises?