As I continue to relive my spring break vacation in these pages (we’re only a couple of days into it so far - this could last well into the autumn!), I’ll reveal the biggest shock my kids received on our Carnival Cruise. It was 7:30 on a sunny Tuesday morning, when I woke them and said we’d arrived in Charlotte.
Actually, if you have boys ages 17, 15 and 12, you know that just waking them at ALL was a big shock. Because when they do finally go to sleep while on vacation, they consider being awoken at ANY time other than one of THEIR OWN CHOOSING to be tantamount to child cruelty. For me, the big shock was just being able to wake them, inasmuch as I rarely knew where they were aboard ship, and if they were bothering to sleep at all.
But hearing that the boat was looking out over Charlotte befuddled, perplexed and irritated their 97 percent still-asleep brains even more than my technique for waking them up, which is a two-step process involving wetting my right index finger in my mouth and then sticking said finger into one of their ears.
I was telling the truth, however, about being in Charlotte. Just not the Charlotte, N.C., their sleep-deprived brains conjured up. It was Charlotte Amalie, the capital of the U.S. Virgin Islands.
We were looking out of our cabin, across the shimmering waters of St. Thomas Harbor, directly into the blinding reflection of the sun off of the jillions of “SUPER SALE PRICED!!” diamond rings, pendants and brooches that Charlotte Amalie merchants had strategically placed in their store windows to hypnotize my wife, who had been daydreaming since we left Miami about the bling she would bring back to the boat from this port; gifts, from me, for a significant wedding anniversary, a significant birthday, and a couple other notable events that she made up, all rolled into one. Not to mention, gifts that she picked out herself, freeing her from any dependence whatsoever on my horrible tastes.
As for the men in our vacationing party - me, my father-in-law and the three 97 percent asleep boys - we were going snorkeling, aboard a catamaran named “Castaway Girl.” There was only one young woman amongst the crew on our boat, and while she had, shall we say, “charms” that probably woke up another 86 percent of my sons’ sleep-deprived brains, their grandpa actually made the first move, asking her if she was THE “Castaway Girl.”
We motored out to our snorkeling site, and the length of the journey was highly dependent on your individual point of view. My father-in-law and I, who were eager to snorkel, thought it took for-EVER. No. 5 son, who was working feverishly on a reasonably plausible excuse to avoid snorkeling, thought it lasted about 21 seconds.
Our destination was Buck Island. Even though our Castaway Girl said it wasn’t. My father-in-law said that, in light of her “charms,” we should forgive her weak grasp of details like where the heck the boat is going. Anyway, I Googled Buck island when we returned home from our trip, and sure enough, the Google Images of Buck Island Cove are precisely the place we swam. Well, where most of us swam.
You see, No. 5 son, while never articulating exactly what his mental block about snorkeling was, allowed that block to pancake any miniscule desire to snorkel, and was only in the water for about 3 minutes, before getting out and spending the rest of the excursion on the boat.
Getting him into the water, establishing that he had no intention of enjoying it, and getting him back out of the water cost me some snorkeling time. Plus, I completely lost track of where the other two boys and their grandpa were. So for most of my snorkeling excursion, I was swimming around looking for my kids, kind of like the neurotic father clown fish in “Finding Nemo.”
The return trip to Charlotte Amalie offered some of the excursion’s biggest excitement. Well, for me anyway, as I spent most of it trying to keep No. 3 and No. 4 son’s from sneaking cups of rum punch.
All in all, everyone had a good time in Buck Island Cove. Even No. 5 son. He said it felt like we were there only 21 seconds. How did his time fly by? While we snorkeled, he flirted with the Castaway Girl.