Day 1: Our ship, Royal Caribbean’s Navigator of the Seas, sets sail. We are drinking champagne. Hot Firefighter Husband says, “I actually think I’ll be able to eat healthy. I mean, there really are a lot of healthy options at the buffet.” We keep a close eye on the children so they are not accidentally tossed overboard.
Day 2: On the Bahamian island of Coco Cay, I have a drink (before noon) called a Coco Loco which comes in a souvenir cup. It is delicious. We decide the Diva is old enough to wander around with her cousins.
Day 3: Hot Firefighter Husband sits down to his third breakfast of the morning and says, “I feel like I’ve succumbed to the trough.” The Diva is very responsible for her age. We allow her to wander around by herself. The ship docks in Grand Cayman. We all swim with a dolphin named Cappy and kiss him on the lips, and are amazed by giant sea turtles swimming in pools of their own crap.
Day 4: The Pterodactyl creates a sculpture of a tornado and the evil mermaid Eris using Q-tips. We decide his behavior will improve if he’s allowed to wander around the ship with his big sister. The ship docks in Cozumel, Mexico. “MEXICO!” yells the Pterodactyl. “WE’RE GONNA EAT TACOS!” Because we’re teaching him to stereotype like that. My mother buys me a yearlong supply of Retin-A. My sisters buy some Valium. My son buys a toy involving wooden pecking chickens.
Day 5: My 70-year-old father, who wears chapstick on a black string around his neck and athletic socks pulled up halfway to his knees, enters the ship’s “Sexiest Man in the World” contest and comes in second. The winner is a 17-year-old boy. I injure my hand trying to pry the Tyrant’s hands off my shorts as I leave her at the ship’s “kid camp.”
Day 6: The ship docks at Fort Lauderdale, and we drive home. I’ve gained five pounds. I run into my friend Kay at the grocery, and when she asks about my trip, I tell her I’m exhausted, and she looks at me slightly slack-jawed like, “You. Ungrateful. Bitch.” And I’m like, HEY! All this relaxing is completely debilitating! Particularly when children and wine and Coco Locos and early rising are involved.
Those anecdotes really encapsulate our trip. We ate, we drank, we laughed, we drank, we laughed, and I suffered from frequent panic attacks regarding the possibility of the children falling into the water. Also, I worked out four times. Can you imagine how much I ate and drank to have gained five pounds even though I exercised four times in six days? Don’t try to imagine it, actually. It might nauseate you.
The best part of the cruise, I think, was watching the cousins roam the ship like a band of pirates, entirely committed to each other’s entertainment. At one point they commandeered one of the glass elevators, sat on the floor of it and rode up and down for an hour. The second best part was the wine. Oh, the wine! My brother-in-law is a wine snob extraordinaire, an awesome fact when he’s buying. And he bought most of the time. Or so we thought. On the last full day at sea my parents announced that they had paid everyone’s onboard expenses. The real winner in this deal was my sister, who had treated my mother to a morning at the spa. I totally would have treated my mother to an entire day at the spa if I had known she was paying for it.
The other great part about the trip was relaxing all traditional parenting standards regarding bathing, nutrition, teeth-brushing, table manners and other issues considered paramount to a civilized society. If I had a dollar for every time the Pterodactyl took a picture of my butt, I’d have at least four dollars, which is four dollars more than anyone should pay to have a picture of my butt. The Tyrant spent a lot of time screaming, “IS THE BOAT TAKING US HOME? MAKE THE BOAT TAKE US HOME! I WANNA GO HOME!” because she missed the 3-story Barbie dream house Santa gave her. We just let her scream and gave her an ice cream cone every 45 minutes or so. Oh, and left her in the kid camp.
I’m glad to be home, mainly because of, you know, the five pounds. And the hangovers. Also, I had run out of clothes. But, man, what a trip. As a reminder, this cruise was my parents’ 70th birthday present to themselves: to treat their four children, the spouses, and the associated grandchildren to a weeklong Caribbean cruise. I have high hopes of doing this for my children one day, although the trip may be more like a houseboat vacation on Lake Okeechobee. Which would be awesome! Very organic and quiet. Much smaller carbon footprint.
I’m so grateful my mom’s not like that.