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.

http://sandyraymond.com/2009/10/06/oscar-at-sea-part-iii–iv.aspx

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.

Oscar at Sea

We are back home after traveling to Puerto Rico and the Caribbean Islands with Oscar. The trip was both wonderful and exhausting (if you’ve ever traveled with an infant you know what I mean). I’m glad to be home!

We had so many adventures that I decided while writing this up for my blog that I would break it into four parts.

Part I: Planes, Boats, and Taxis

This trip was Oscar’s first time on a plane (except when I was pregnant), on a boat, and riding in a car without a car seat (easily some of the scariest moments of my life). It was fun traveling with him; he’s so curious about everything around him and he’s so good natured and fun. He attracts a lot of attention. However, it’s also very tiring because he never stops moving except when he’s sleeping. He’s a baby on the go.

Last Saturday we flew from Tucson to San Juan, Puerto Rico. For Darin’s 40th birthday, Darin’s parents took us along on a cruise with them and their family. As part of the trip we got to fly first class. We’d never flown first class before and it was pretty fun. No little foil packages of peanuts! Instead, they give you a real glass and a little dish of warm mixed nuts.

As you can see, Oscar was pretty blown away by the whole experience.

We arrived in San Juan and went straight to our hotel. Getting the luggage from the airport to the hotel was something of an ordeal. Let me tell you, babies need a lot of stuff. Oscar really needs a personal assistant. Oh, wait, that’s me. Luckily, the hotel had a pool, and the next morning we went swimming first thing after breakfast before it was time to head over to the boat. Oscar loves the water. He’s like a fish that’s been living in the desert for years and finally gets to come home.

Look how green it is. This ain’t Arizona.

On Sunday we boarded our boat, the Carnival Cruise Ship Victory, and I learned something new. You don’t simply board a ship. Oh no. Boarding is for losers. You embark. And when you get off a ship, that’s right, you debark. More on that in Part III: Debarkation Is Not a Word.

Here I am with Oscar in the Ergo carrier. More on that in Part IV: Stuff You Need When Taking a Baby on a Boat.

It rained in San Juan but after that we had beautiful weather for the entire cruise, except for the fact that it was a little too hot. One of our taxi drivers, who spent his life on the island of St. Kitts, told us it was hotter than he could ever remember it being. I knew we were in the tropics because my skin felt dewy soft but my hair turned into something I don’t want to think about.

The first night on the boat there was a big party on the deck (Carnival is the party cruise line), but we mostly hung out in our little windowless room with Oscar. Oscar was pretty disappointed that I didn’t let him sing karaoke.

If you’ve never been on a cruise, let me tell you, they are geared toward people who get bored very easily. I’ve never seen so many activities in my life. There’s dancing, drinking, magic shows, bingo, trivia contests, water slides, and shopping. They even have a club for Scrabble players. Oh, and eating. Have I mentioned the eating? You can literally eat 24 hours a day.

Here I am studying the room service menu while Oscar investigates the shore excursions.

In addition to buffets, room service, and the 24-hour pizza and ice cream station, they have fine dining every night. Two of those nights you even get to dress up. Here are Oscar and me before dinner. Don’t we clean up well? Of course, after dinner we were both covered with mashed potatoes and soggy teething biscuit crumbs, but it was fun to be dressed up while it lasted.

On Sunday night we set sail for St. Thomas and the Caribbean. Over the next week we would experience some of the happiest moments of our lives, and also some of the most stressful. I guess that’s the nature of travel and the magic of leaving home.

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Stay tuned for Oscar at Sea Part II: Caribbean Dreamin’