We weren’t even on the ship when the party started. I was still making my way through the embarkation process, listening to piped-in dance music and having a welcome photo made when the 70s dance anthem, I Will Survive filled the air.
Almost immediately, one of the Carnival Cruise Line employees joined in (Is it even possible to listen to Gloria Gaynor sing that song and not sing along?) In the next moment a group of women, all traveling together on the 8-day Caribbean Cruise, turned the corner and someone in the group started singing with the attendant.
Another woman, then another, joined and soon they were all standing side by side, arms linked, belting out
“Oh no, not I
I will survive
As long as I know how to love
I know I’ll stay alive...”
The song ended. In minutes we were crossing the gangplank and stepping on board the brand new Carnival Breeze and I realized I was still smiling.
It was an excellent way to start the trip.
Even on a ship as big and busy as the Breeze, with more than 4,000 passengers of all ages and another 1,300 crew, I saw the girlfriend group once or twice-- all dressed up on “elegant” nights or gathered in a circle of deck chairs, chattering and laughing--and each time they looked like they were having the time of their lives. I asked and they told me they were from Chicago and like those of us who live in the Northwest, they were already tired of slogging through wintery gray skies and cold winds. They’d been counting the days until they could turn their back on winter and spend a week sailing to the Caribbean with nothing to do but sit in the sun, a glass of something tall and cool in hand.
Winter has its pleasures, of course--skiing, sledding, hot chocolate and marshmallows--but for the most part it is a season that requires us to bow and surrender or, once in a while, escape. That’s what I was looking for. While the Windy City ladies were partying, I planted myself on a deck chair, my husband beside me, and simply soaked up the Vitamin D, hoping to store enough sunshine to see me through until spring.
I figured out pretty quickly that the Carnival approach is to pack up the party and hit the waves. All you have to do is relax.
And always, right overhead, shining down on the ship, there is the star of the party and the secret to surviving the greyest days of winter in this part of the world: that big hot Caribbean sun.
Cheryl-Anne Millsap is a travel writer based in Spokane, Washington. She is the author of 'Home Planet: A Life in Four Seasons' and can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org
Cheryl-Anne Millsap's Home Planet column appears each week in the Wednesday "Pinch" supplement. Cheryl-Anne is a regular contributor to Spokane Public Radio and her essays can be heard on Public Radio stations across the country.