Casinos, karaoke, making the deck of the ship throb with the lights and sounds of Ibiza…this was some of the “fun” promised to guests setting out on a Caribbean cruise by Carnival Cruise Director Felipe Curato this week. If I hadn’t known any better, I would have disembarked straightaway.
Why is it that “fun” gets colonised by extroverts and people who are entertained by hairy chest contests? I would like to offer an alternative introduction to those who have just boarded a cruise ship. With respect to the charismatic and remarkably engaging Felipe, may I present “Cruising for Introverts”?
Introverts’ cruise director
Hello. My name is Jo Ind and I’m the introverts’ cruise director. I’d like to welcome you on board this vessel for a vacation we hope will be awesome, in the true sense of the word.
The first thing an introvert needs to understand when boarding a ship with more than 3,000 other people, is that there’s always a place where you can be alone. Even while hundreds of passengers are at the Mega Deck Party doing the Cha Cha Slide, you can still find a quiet spot where all you can hear is the hum of the engine and the sounds of the ocean. Wander around the ship and find yours.
Arrivals and sailaways
Secondly, take note of the information that can be found in small print on the front of the daily news sheet – the times of the ship’s expected arrival in port and its sailaway. If the ship is due to arrive at 7am, set your alarm for 6am and head for the bow. There you will find a handful of your fellow introverts sharing a moment of exquisite beauty – the ship sliding slowly into harbour just as the sun is rising.
These arrivals are what cruising is for. They are gentle, majestic, silent and different with each new morning and each new port. Please don’t miss them.
If you have children with you, let them try out the onboard kids’ club. If you do, there’s a good chance they’ll make friends with children their own age from all over the world. Once that happens you won’t see them between breakfast and one o’clock the following morning. This leaves adults free to do adult things – such as reading.
When you’re visiting a different Caribbean island each day, there’s plenty to read about. Obviously, you can’t get to know another country well in the space of eight hours, but if you read about its history before you visit, you can use the snippet of time well enough to get a good taste.
Each island has a different topography and a different response to a colonial past. When you get onshore, walk round, take a taxi, ask questions, chat to people who live there and notice the subtle changes in prosperity, etiquette, language and outlook. Gather literature from museums, cathedrals and fortresses. Go to your quiet spot when back on board. Sip a pina colada, gaze at the sea and digest what you have learnt about the peoples with whom you have spent your day.
Fun Day at Sea
Travelling in this way is so intense and sensuous, you’ll be glad to have a Fun Day at Sea. This is a day when the shop doesn’t dock, you are surrounded by water and the extroverts play things like Hit the Jackpot and a Larger than Life Game Show. Go back to your quiet spot and notice the blueness – the ocean, the sky and the nothing in between. Here the horizon curves, the water rolls and the starless heavens are a bright, bright dome. Spend time here. Know the circling roundness of it all. Live this moment. Take it home. Go back at night and be enveloped in darkness.
Aruba, Jamaica, ooh I wanna take you
If you cruise like this, you are likely to become deeply happy. The depth of the ocean, the slow movement in the sea, the vastness of the sky, the volcanoes, the waterfalls, the sand, the faces, the stories, the welcomes…. They might well put you in the mood for dancing. Go on. Go to where the DJ’s playing: “Aruba, Jamaica, ooh I wanna take you”. Dance the night away with the best of them.