Tuesday, November 24, 2009

the friend ship

So -- what am I doing on a cruise ship off of the Mexico Pacific coast?

If you have read can you spare a cruise?, you will know the question is rhetorical -- because I have already told you why I was there. You know it. I know it. It is a cheap writer trick.

But here I go, any way.

My former work colleague, Roy, and his sister, Marcia, booked the Mexican cruise before I moved to my small fishing village by the sea. They wanted me to spend the day with them in Puerto Vallarta.

Instead, I signed up for the full cruise.

I am glad I did. It turned out to be a great time -- for a very predictable reason. I thoroughly enjoyed spending a week with close friends.

There was nothing unusual about the ports (Cabo San Lucas, Mazatlan, Puerto Vallarta). I have visited all three regularly on my birthday cruises.

But I do not go on cruises for the ports. I would have been happy to spend seven full days at sea -- simply because the big ships are destination resorts. Most people can find something to keep them stimulated for the entire cruise.

For me, it was friends, food, adventure, and entertainment. Let me put food and friends together -- because we certainly did on the cruise.

Robert Frost said there is something about a wall that wants it down. Steve says there is something about friendship that makes us down food.

In addition to the regular dining rooms, our ship had two speciality restaurants: a steak house and an Italian restaurant. For a small additional charge, we had some of the best food I have eaten outside of Paris and Florence.

Beef eaters know that Mexico does not offer much in the way of tender steaks. The ship did. Even though I am not supposed to be eating beef (triglycerides and all), I stocked up on my annual intake in one week.

I suspect we could have been eating tractor tires, though, and we still would have had a good time. My friends know me well enough that we do not need to fall back on social conventions to keep conversation running. We ran out of food long before we ran out of laughter. That is something I have been missing in Mexico, and that I am now trying to remedy.

Despite what I said about the ports, the adventure element came on land -- or partially on land.

In Cabo San Lucas, I para sailed. That was not a new adventure. I did a tandem para sail several years ago in the Caribbean. This was a solo job. And great fun. At full altitude I could see the whales in the bay. But it was a bit lonely up there. I kept wanting to point out sights, but there was no one there. Do you see a theme here?

In Mazatlan, I went zip lining. I have done zip lining three or four times before. But it never ceases to thrill me. The speed. The height. The sense of impending danger. The shared comradeship. They were all there. And I would gladly do it again.

My only regret about zip lining is that it took so much out of the day, I was unable to get back to town to meet Nancy of Countdown to Mexico. But she was as gracious as she is in her blog. One of these days we will actually meet.

But the top reason I cruise is live entertainment. The ship is filled with small bands and pianists. But my favorites are on stage. And I get my most energy out of the singers and dancers of the ship's company.

I have stopped calling them kids because, even though some of them are just starting their careers, a number of them have been practicing their talents for a few years.

I have mentioned that I try to sponsor an appreciation dinner for the cast on each of my cruises. This cruise was no exception. The full cast showed up, and they were delightful conversationalists.

But their talent is far beyond conversation. They performed two Vegas-quality shows on a moving ship. Singing. Dancing. All with the professionalism you would expect from a Broadway-trained cast.

In fact, at least one performed on Broadway: Adrienne Fiske. Pictured at the top of this post. She is a true star in her own right.

I have now taken twenty-some cruises. But this one will be memorable because friendship ran like a thread through the full week.

And what could be a better result than that?


Islagringo said...

Since I would never go on a cruise myself, I am enjoying the vicarious adventure you are providing. I have to tsk tsk you though for choosing zip lining over Nancy and Paul.

Calypso said...

"I have now taken twenty-some cruises."

Wow 20+ cruises. I am going to have to start calling you Captain Stubing.

Tulum Living said...

It sounds like you had a wonderful time. I have never been on a cruise and but can certainly appreciate the idea.

I know what you mean about those conversations where laughter pours out of them ofter faster then words. Living in a place where the language is a challenge- it is still harder to get to that point of conversation where you stop thinking about it. It will come and so will the close friends. That is what I think anyway.

I am glad to hear that all is going well.

Anonymous said...

sounds like such a great time! i congratulate you on your courage to parasail-i am a coward who would rather keep her feet on the ground and yet i've zip lined twice and loved it!

just 4 1/2 months till we go on the cruise to celebrate my sister's 50th wedding anniversary-can't wait.

have a great day!


Joe S. said...

I am enthralled by your enthusiasm, but remember Hans, Solo(see theme subtext) is better.

Nancy said...

As my grandma said "it takes all kinds to make a world" ... as I have zip-zero-nada interest in being trapped in a vehicle with 3-6,000 other souls.

And after reading about the horrible parasailing accident over near Akumal that various bloggers wrote about a year or two ago you couldn't get me to do that either unless it was at gunpoint.

Ziplining I might do some day, but not sacrificing a day spent in Centro with two of my favorite people! No way!


Laurie said...

I hope the girl in the pic didnt' trip on her gown. I also don't want her dry cleaning bill. Glad you enjoy cruising. Been once, and probably never again. Give me an outboard motor, a small skiff, and fishing tackle over cruising, buffets, and ports of call any day.

Steve Cotton said...

Teresa -- Heights do not bother me. Having my head underwater does. But I actually swam two pool lengths underwater on this trip. My one fear grappled to the floor -- or the pool bottom.

Tulum Living -- There is nothing like dining with friends. And this was a perfect trip to do that.

Calypso -- better than being called Gopher.

Islagringo -- You are correct. I should have deep sixed the ziplining in favor of Nancy and Paul.

Joe -- But you know I have been enthusiastic about everything as long as you have known me.

Nancy -- My bad choices are now public record. If I ever get started on my trips around Mexico, I will need to put Mazatlan near the top. Two misses now.

Laurie -- My favorite thing about cruising is that I have a captive audience. I love any place with lots of people and lots of entertainment.