We took a cruise for our spring break vacation this year. It worked out just as I hoped it would; a ship far out in the ocean was the only place I could run and hide from my co-workers’ mockery of my NCAA basketball tournament bracket.
In other ways, the cruise didn’t work out just as I hoped it would. For example, even though we chose a Carnival boat, there were no mishaps with engines that led to drifting at sea for days without working toilets. Darn it. Just think of the hilarious columns I could’ve written from an experience like THAT.
Actually, the main reason we chose to cruise was that this is the last year we felt we could ever hope to persuade No. 3 son, age 17, to go on spring break with his family. And cruising was the carrot that made that happen. Thus our goal was achieved of vacationing as a family. Although in No. 3’s case, this only meant that, each evening, he’d join us in the dining room for a meal, where we got a precious 33 minutes (maximum) of “quality time” with him. This consisted mainly of trying to get more than one-word answers from him about how he spent his day, and repeatedly saying “No” when he asked if he could leave before dessert.
You’ll not that I didn’t refer to the meal we gathered for each evening as “supper.” On a cruise, it’s kind of hard to know when you’re eating the last meal of any particular day, because you might, maybe, perhaps find yourself a mite peckish a bit after that repast and find yourself gorging on some of the other foodstuffs positioned a strategic six steps apart from bow to stern.
At least, that’s how the edibles were stationed on the “Lido” Deck. Every deck on our ship, the Carnival Liberty, has a poetic name like that: “The Promenade Deck”; “The Riviera Deck”; “The Empress Deck”; “The Verandah Deck.” And so on. Except for Deck 6, the deck our rooms were on. It has a most prosaic, mundane name, “The Upper Deck.” This left me feeling flat on a couple of levels. First of all, with seven more decks above it, how can it be the “Upper” deck? Also, The kids felt like I had gone all skinflint on them, buying just the cheapest accommodations available, which it what always happens when I take them to sporting events and buy seats in the furthest reaches from the action (as in, the upper deck).
We started the vacation off with that most delightful of rituals, the treasured 12-hour, white-knuckle drive on the U.S. Interstate Highway System. Yes, yes, kids, you’re right. . .I went all skinflint on ya, and didn’t fly us down to Miami. But wasn’t it worth it to hear some of my colorful language when encountering drivers going 187 miles an hour while simultaneously talking on cellular devices, tailgating me, changing lanes as often as they blinked, and making obscene gestures at me for “slowing them down?”
The only thing better was the 70 minutes it took us to travel a five mile stretch of interstate 95. We were stuck in a monster backup on Good Friday which we ultimately discovered was caused by a multi-car crack-up; probably, I’m not saying I know for sure, but prahhhh-bably caused by every one of the drivers of the multi-cars involved driving in the manner described above.
My knuckles got so white that we eventually had to stop for the night a couple hours short of Miami. I chose a hotel as close as I could find to Stuart, Fla., which I thought would really tickle my kids’ fancy. They gave me that perfunctory and obviously phony “Cool” response that teenagers give when they’re completely unimpressed by something. Their meals at the Chili’s restaurant next to the hotel generated 144 times more excitement from them.
No. 5 son got to enjoy his birthday waking up in that “Stuart” hotel, which meant he got a bunch of cool presents just before embarking on the final two hour drive to Miami. His favorite gift , by far, was the new word he learned, a name I called this one guy who was driving in the manner described three paragraphs above.