I toyed with the Parting Shots theme digressing into all the ways a massive cruise package is a soul-sucking venture. But criticism is corrosive and I'm currently on a total mind/body cleanse and it admonishes me to abolish not only the processed food and alcohol, but the negative thoughts as well. Instead, let's call this a literal collection of parting shots of the trip, memories of warm ocean breezes and family time. I also want to thank my parents again and express how grateful we are that a) We enjoy them and don't mind spending a week together, b) They are incredibly generous with their time and money, and c) They let Z sleep in their cabin for half the cruise.
We spent most of our together time at dinner. There were several sit-down restaurants with wait staff and unpriced menus so you didn't have to take every meal standing in line at a buffet. The Venetian was opulent, like something you could have found on the Titanic, except I doubt the English called their main entrée "Surf & Turf." This translates to steak and lobster tail and reports were that it was really quite good. The waiter even asked at the end of the meal if anyone wanted more lobster. There was head shaking all around, including from my dad. But after his plate was cleared he said, "I didn't catch that. My hearing aid was turned down." When we told him he'd just refused more lobster he looked crest fallen and rode out the remainder of the cruise silently wondering what else his poor hearing may have denied him.
Z rarely made it past the appetizer. Suddenly his eyes would glaze, he'd lay his head on the closest lap and fall hard into sleep. Leaving restaurants resulted in either intercepting his bungy cord of drool before it hit any of the other passengers or protecting C from the semi-conscious blows about the face in retaliation for being disturbed. Our third night we celebrated my mom's 72 years on the planet with homemade cards and a chorus of Happy Birthday sung by the Malaysian wait staff. Z had arrived that evening with a tear streaked face after the pen and ink masterpiece he'd been drawing on a balloon for her had exploded. He took a few bites of his pasta and fell asleep.
We didn't go to the shows or play bingo or participate in the lecture on gemstone buying. If you want to do all that, book a less expensive inside cabin where you won't want to linger for more time than it takes to get dressed in the morning. But if you spring for a balcony, as my parents did for us, there's no need to fill your on-board time with distractions. The light and the water and the warm breezes are always there, mesmerizing and soothing. We slept with the sliding door partway open and the slow churn of water against the side of the boat sent me into a deep, unmedicated slumber that I rarely experience at home.
Our best moments were spent on those balconies. Z much preferred the company of his grandparents to that of the kids in Splash Club. He'd bring over his zippered bag of markers and a stack of coloring books and let them each pick from the collection. I'd peek over the partition after a long span of silence and see them all intently staying within the lines. He was so happy. I had a nice talk with my parents on the balcony, asking if it was ok that I continue to write about them and my version of growing up and to be prepared for more stories to come since I'd joined a writers group in St. Albans. They seemed fine with it but personally I think it should have given them pause.
So, like snuba in a barren ocean, cruising is really what you make of it. It could be awesome or it could be awful. But I would argue it's completely up to you and the lenses you put on at the start of the day.