Is the entire concept of "CruiseMates" to meet kindred spirits at sea an odd thing?
You're not likely to see the message below posted on an Internet message board, unless it was on a board for alternate lifestyles, or an ad from Hookers-R-Us.
"My wife and I will be staying at the Mirage Hotel in Las Vegas from Oct. 15-22. Anyone else going to be there then? Want to get together for drinks, and maybe a show?"
There is something very different about anticipating and preparing for a cruise vacation, as opposed to a land vacation.
On previous land vacations, whether it was a family camping trip, a golf holiday, or a trip to someplace like Las Vegas, I'd look forward to the upcoming time off work. But there was very little preparation, either mental or physical. The night before leaving, we'd throw everything we thought we'd need into bags, and off we'd go.
I'm presently just a few weeks away from a cruise, and there are unmistakable psychological and biological changes going on within me.
About a month before a cruise I notice a loss of appetite, and butterflies in my stomach. It may be my subconscious desire to lose weight before I'm seen with my shirt off by the swimming pool… or possibly it's my way of "making room," knowing that the first day onboard I'm going to devour an entire buffet, minus the chafing dishes of course.
At work, my productivity definitely slips prior to a cruise. I spend much of my time sneaking onto the Internet to research our ports of call, check for price reductions on our sailing, and look for new online friends going on the same cruise.
When I was young, I'd use the old trick of placing comic books inside my school text books, to make it appear I was studying. Today I find myself employing the technically-advanced adult version of that maneuver: keeping a window open to my accounting program just in case someone happens to look over my shoulder (particularly odd behavior when you consider that I‘m the boss).
Then there's the matter of pre-cruise shopping. I'd bet no one has ever made sure they bought new underwear before a camping trip.
Though some might think pre-cruise shopping is more in the realm of women, I think the men can be almost as bad -- just sneakier. We won't gather six friends for a shopping sojourn and lunch, but we'll sneak off on a weekend and tell the family we're going to look for a new table saw, then sneak our new sports jacket into the closet when we get home.
When the time for the cruise finally arrives, and you're standing in line at the embarkation lounge waiting to board the ship, there's always a buzz of energy in the building. Everyone is chattering with everyone around them, all equally eager to get on the ship. It's not a feeling we've ever encountered checking into a Motel 6 alongside an interstate when I'm driving to my "vacation". Nor have we walked into a Burger King, sat down with people already there and asked, "Where are you from? Is this your first time at Burger King?"
If only I got the same adrenalin rush from paying my utility bills as I do from making the final payment for a cruise, life would be so much more tolerable! And if I could just get the tune to "Hot Hot Hot" out of my head, I could get a decent night's sleep, and I'd be ready to cruise!