After careful examination, I have arrived at the conclusion that my preferred way to travel is not by water. Particularly not by deep sea fishing boat. Or by cruise liner. I find that having the floor roll out from under me while staggering around in a cocktail dress and heels is surreal at best, and retch-inducing at worst.
I have been on three cruises in my life. The first was uneventful, and awesome. My husband and I went to the Caribbean. The boat behaved, the people behaved, the water behaved. My husband’s hemorrhoids did NOT behave, but that is another story for another time.
The second cruise I went on was for a medical conference. We went to Mexico. I remember one cruise night, the water was so choppy, I threw my heels in the corner and crawled into my bunk for the night. Supine was the only way I could tolerate that motion. And that was WITH a scopolamine patch on.
I cannot use scopolamine any more. It works great for motion sickness, but puts me in a suggestible state where any purchase recommended by any ship member will induce me to instantly purchase the product in question. Even if I have no need for such product. Even if such product looks like crap on me. I rang up quite a bill. And brought home a lot of stuff I have never used or worn, which is pretty severe, even for me. They don’t call it the zombie drug for nothing.
Also on that cruise, I met a woman who was a bit nervous. She told me that the previous two cruises she had taken, they had had to make port at unscheduled and undesirable places, because on each cruise someone on board had died and had to have their body dropped off at the nearest place possible. I sincerely wondered why she was trying for round 3.
I went on my third cruise this week. I just returned last night. We took our daughter for her first cruise and her first trip out of the country. We were on the Carnival Ecstasy. We were scheduled to make port in Key West and Cozumel. My husband had been specially practicing his Spanish.
The first day, we docked in Key West. I have never been to Key West, so I was excited to go. It was freezing. It was windy. It was raining. The enormous cold front that zapped most of the south and the east of the US got here too. After looking at the weather radar, we never got off the boat. I remarked bitterly to my husband that I still couldn’t say I’d been in Key West. “Go down the gangplank,” he suggested helpfully. “Put your foot on the concrete. Come back. And don’t forget your umbrella.” I told him if that counted as being in Key West, being on a ship docked there should be just fine as well.
The next day was a sea day. We were on our way to Cozumel, where we would make port by afternoon the next day. The weather on deck was too chilly to enjoy, and the sun too seldom came out of the clouds. We were at dinner when a pretty Hispanic woman sat down with her two boys. She mentioned that we were rescuing a craft full of people. We had heard nothing of the sort. We speculated what kind of craft it might be. I suggested it might be Cubanos, making their way from Cuba to Key West. The pretty woman said her husband got to the US the same way.
When we left dinner, half the cruise passengers were glued to the windows on the starboard side. They were taking pictures with phones and cameras. We looked out the window and saw what looked like a small raft or canoe, with dark heads visible and the upper part of their ship nearly even with the water – looked like there was a large amount of water in there.
My husband, who is former Navy, said our ship should give them food and water as needed and send them on their way. He felt the craft appeared to be seaworthy. He said there is no maritime law requiring passengers to be pulled out as long as the craft is salvageable. I didn’t think it look very salvageable, but what do I know about boats? Except that if the water is bouncy, I get dizzy.
When we were seated in a theater watching “family friendly” stand-up comedy, an announcement came over the intercom from the captain. The passengers had indeed been brought onto our cruise liner. The back of their makeship vessel was disintegrating and it was taking on water.
There were 41 men, women and children on that tiny craft.
They were indeed Cubanos, and they were lucky as hell, because they were lost and they were all about to drown.
My husband felt more positive about the rescue after the news that the boat was about to sink. He said mariners never leave seamen to drown.
They came on the intercom again. Authorities had been contacted, and we had to return to Key West, to turn over the fugitives. They were to be returned to Cuba once they received medical treatment. “I knew that was going to happen,” said my husband. “Now we won’t make it to our ports for the cruise.” That possiblility had not occurred to me. I felt a little perturbed.
Later, another announcement. We had received clearance to make port in Nassau, the Bahamas, instead of Cozumel. We would not make it to Cozumel, but we were at least going to make it to a beach. This was fine with me. I have been to both places, and liked them both. It was a shame my husband wouldn’t be able to use the Spanish he had practiced.
Some passengers were furious that we would not make it to Cozumel. They had made special plans there, or had relatives to see.
As if in some cosmic anti-karmic reward for rescuing doomed souls, the water was horribly choppy to and from Key West, thanks to that lovely front. Since I had no scopolamine, I took 2 benadryl and took to my rack.
We made port at Nassau, and my daughter and I went and got fried at the beach, where she was nearly drowned by a wave, and my husband blew over a hundred bucks in the casino. And then we returned to the ship.
The most positive thing I can say is that my husband let me buy a Michael Kors tortoise watch that I had been coveting for over a year. I had to promise to start working out if I bought it though. Always a catch.
It was really awesome that we saved 41 souls from perishing in that cold water. The experience was tainted though, by the complaining of our fellow passengers, and most of all the fact that those 41 souls, men, women and children, were being returned to Cuba, where their lives would now undoubtedly be more hellish than ever now that they had tried to escape.
I think now that I will travel by air or by land. There are too many vagaries of water travel, not the least of which is, it makes me queasy. And bodies have to be dropped off and fugitives rescued. And plans changed. I recognize that nothing is certain, except for the near-certainty that water travel is not for me.
But we did save 41 people.
And the above article is wrong. We were unable to transfer the fugitives to a Coast Guard ship because the water was too rough. That was why we had to go back to Key West. Just sayin’.