Oscar at Sea Part III–Debarkation is Not a Word

Getting off the ship is not a simple matter of walking down the gangplank. You have to “debark.” I found this term annoying. Isn’t it “disembark”? My 900-lb unabridged dictionary says that debark and disembark mean the same thing. Damn. Why wasn’t I consulted? “Debark” sounds like something I’d like to have done to my neighbor’s dog. “Disembark” is much more elegant; I’m picturing women with parasols.

Every morning our ship, after sailing all night, would stop at a new port. We stopped at St. Thomas, Dominica, Barbados, St. Lucia, Antigua and St. Kitts. Despite the fact that our room had no windows (it’s a very strange sensation to have no idea what time of day it is outside) I always knew we were about to make port because the ship would start to shudder and vibrate. I loved this feeling. I would lay in bed and think, “Oh, I guess I better get up soon.” Sometimes I would hear Oscar chattering in his crib, or banging away at the metal bars. The crib they gave him to sleep in looked like something out of a Dickens novel.

We were usually up, dressed, organized, and at breakfast by around 9:00. My idea of a relaxing vacation is to loll around in bed until a more respectable hour, say, 10:00 A.M. or so. But we had Places to Go! and People to See! I have to admit, I’d probably rather be on a sun drenched beach than under the covers.


We got our share of sun drenched beaches on St. Thomas, Barbados, and Antigua. Darin and I got to go snorkeling at all three beaches and had three very different experiences. On Barbados we got to swim with and touch sea turtles¬† and on Antigua we saw beautiful coral and colored fish. As someone who loves the water but has never felt entirely comfortable swimming, I had mixed feelings about trying snorkeling, but was surprised to find that I love it. It’s relatively easy and relaxing.

One of the best parts of the cruise was the kindness and friendliness of the staff and the other guests on the ship toward our baby. In the dining room they never forgot to bring Oscar’s steamed vegetables (sweet potato was his favorite) or his dinner rolls (he liked to suck on these for awhile then throw them on the floor. We spent most of our time in the dining room retrieving rolls from under the table). I was nervous that people would make snarky remarks about babies, especially when Oscar fussed in the dining room or when I breastfed in public areas. We got nothing but smiles and questions about Oscar. He even made friends, and everywhere we went people would say, “Hey Oscar” when passing by.

One of the worst parts of the cruise were the cab rides on the islands. No car seat, no seat belts. They really cram you into the little (barely air-conditioned) vans, and I would have to hold Oscar on my lap while the drivers sped along narrow, two-lane highways. Thankfully nothing happened!

Overall, the trip was fun but exhausting. Would I do it again? Yes, but at a slightly slower pace, and with a few small changes (such as bringing along a nanny).¬† The inconvenience of traveling with an infant was rewarded by seeing Oscar’s face whenever we took him in the water.

Stay Tuned for Part IV: Stuff You Need When Taking a Baby on a Boat.