Saturday, February 10, 2018

Facebook Status: Living your life…the Cruise Edition

My Facebook status on a Carnival Cruise line Facebook group (Not sponsored by Carnival):
Photo by P.Lynne Designs (C) 2018
“Except when I first came on this group in October, after changing ships, dates, and Itineraries (ports), I have never written a post in this group. I have commented, but that is it. I say this with a question: Why is everyone is so hyped up on Jamaica and Mexico being bad places.
Last month, I came back from a beautiful cruise on the Carnival Dream, going to the ports of Montego Bay, Jamaica, Grand Cayman, and Cozumel, Mexico. I had no problems there. Me and my friend got off the ship at each port. We did no excursions that were sponsored by Carnival. We really did not have the money. We had fun anyway. We were cautious about where we went, asking the person we were traveling with (she has been to these ports several times, has done 25 cruises in all). She gave us this advice: Treat your traveling abroad like you would domestically (United States). If you are unfamiliar in a U.S. city, you would not go in places where there is a potential for crime, right? There are parts of Detroit or even in my own city of Columbus that I would not venture into. Not all areas of a city or country are bad.
Do not call attention to yourself is the term I am looking at. No huge amounts of money and do not look like a tourist. Watch who you are dealing with. Do not take rides that look questionable. Stay with crowds.
Before you go, I offer you all other pieces of advice: RESEARCH, RESEARCH, RESEARCH!!!! Go to the library, search on the computer, ask questions from other travelers (not just cruisers). Find ways to be self-reliant, even if you are traveling with a group, your spouse, a family member/friend or solo. You are the only person you have (unless you are also traveling with kids (under 25, and yes, I do consider them kids))Most of all, if you believe in God or whoever you pray to, Prayer works. Ask for protection and for discernment The Discernment part is so you can put into practice what I and others have mentioned in this group and in other places in Social Media about being safe but still living life.We all want to have fun, that is the purpose of this vacation, this cruise. Do not get too drunk that you are so inebriated to make the best decisions for your safety and the safety of others around you. I was lucky to have traveled with a good group of people who made sure that I made all the right decisions. I have known them for years. Some were my parents' age or a little younger and some were my age or younger. They checked on me often, and I had a good friend to be in the stateroom with me.
I said this in response to seeing too many posts of first-timers scared out of their wits because they have read the comments on this group about the ports. You do not have to get off the ship if you do not want to, but I advise you to at least try one port. If you want to take the safe route, try an excursion sponsored by Carnival, which will guarantee you will get back on the ship because they have to wait on you.Sorry, this post is long, but I felt I needed to get this off my chest. one last piece of advice: You cannot live your whole life in a bubble. you got to get out there and live life to the fullest. I am going to let that quote sit right there.”
I am going to let this post sit there for a moment.   The reason I wrote the post in the first place is to serve a reminder to those in the group, who decided a month, 5 months, or even a year or two to travel on a cruise ship and experience a taste of what a country has to offer.  There had been some uproar on all the travel groups about Jamaica and Mexico about the increase in crime in these two places.  The short, smart, sarcastic answer that I could have given is “don’t go if you feel that way.”  The reason I did not give that answer is I was that scared first-timer cruiser too. Let me explain.
Up until last month, I have never traveled out of the country without my parents.  I have flown to San Francisco with my aunt in 1988, but that was not out of the country.  In fact, the only place I have been prior to my cruise was Canada, and both times, I had my parents.  I really do not count Canada as being out of the country because you can drive through Detroit, Michigan to get to Canada.
Funny Story:  There is a state park in Detroit called Belle Isle.  Well, last July 4th, me, my parents, and aunt and uncle were riding around, and at one point in the drive, we drove inside the park. While we were there, we drove a little closer to the Canadian border to the point where my phone started pinging off the tower on the Canadian side, and there were international charges on the bill.  I found it quite comical.  2 seconds the phone was doing that.
Fast forward to September, and my original cruise was canceled due to Hurricane Irma, and I, and the group I was with decided not to take the alternate trip to Cozumel and Belize (only 4 days as opposed to the 7-days that we were supposed to go on the Carnival ship Conquest), opted for bigger ship called Carnival Dream (Not to be confused with the Disney Dream cruise ship), to sail in December 31, 2017-January 7, 2018, and go to 3 ports instead of 4 (Montego Bay, Grand Cayman, and Cozumel).  It did not matter because I was scared that I:
·         Was going to get left by the cruise ship-did not happen
·         Spend well over budget-again it did not happen
·         Go to the shady side of each port-Montego Bay was not shady, but it did open my eyes to what was happening in that part of the country-no different than, say, going to Compton, California Or Newark, New Jersey.
·         Being swindled on-again did not happen.
Once all my fears subsided, thanks to good friends and prayer, I was able to enjoy my cruise.  The only thing that I was not prepared for was the issue of my health, which up to that point I thought was pretty good.  I lost my breath a couple times in the airport at New Orleans.  My friends were concerned, so as an added precaution, I used a wheelchair to get on the ship and off when we returned.  I probably could have made it, but I was glad for the caution because it could have been worse: a trip to the ER in New Orleans prior to getting on the ship, and I would have been left behind.  I had no issues at any of the ports, and I used the wheelchair going home. Next month, I will speak to my doctor about this.  I want to make sure I do not have the same problem when I go to Disney later this year.
So, for this takeaway, I want for all first-timers of anything, I want you to put your fears aside and trust in the process of going on a vacation, on a ship or a land vacation, and having fun.  Please use common sense when vacation, and as I said in the Facebook status, RESEARCH, RESEARCH, RESEARCH. I read some of the comments made on my post, and this is very to this person’s statement, “Current climate of America. The fear mongering has worked on a good portion of people here. The danger hasn’t gotten any worse or better.” 
My take on fear is “if planted in the right place, it can help make good decisions about anything in life.  It does not have to be “should I go on vacation on this ship to this port” or “If I take this deal, how much money will I save?”  Fear also goes into things like, “I’m Pregnant, now what?” or “I have $x in the account and I owe $x to this company, should I buy this item?” or worse, “I am in an abusive relationship and I just shot my abuser, now what?” If we take on fear for things such as, “I see a group of Black males coming my way, I should detour and go a different direction”, or “I am not getting off the ship because of the things I heard about this country.” 
My comment to you is do not use fear as a weapon in your life.  Use common sense and research an area (ship or land), an idea you have (a new business, making videos, or a new hobby), learning a new skill (video editing, tap dancing, or yoga) a new clothing line, a new food, or even a new church or temple.  See the world with new eyes and maybe you will enjoy that new world and be open to the possibilities that await you.

This is my takeaway for you.  Make it a good one.  

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