Cruising for the Human Connection

Cruising for the Human Connection

WOW, its my blog date already? No, I didn’t forget entirely but will warn y’all up front that deep inspiration has escaped me (for legitimate reasons I’ll talk about in a minute) so this post will largely be Sharon rambling about some fluffiness and a wee bit of insightful musings. Here we go!

My last blog on July 11 concluded my months-long series on Regency Servants. Now, the mild negative to writing a series is slight boredom in the topic, even one of great interest. This is far outweighed by the positive of having a clear idea of what one’s next blog will be about! LOL! Typically this ultra Type-A planner-of-everything chick would have had at least a few good ideas swirling in her brain. Alas, all my planning revolved around anniversary cruise prep.

Lathans Anniversary video
*click image to view video on YouTube

Yes! I went on a cruise! Celebrating 30 years of happily-ever-after marriage to my own Mr. Darcy, we embarked on a romantic cruise through the western Caribbean. Our own Love Boat adventure! I’ve been on three cruises now, and can unequivocally proclaim they are the BEST vacations. I’ll be chatting about my cruise fun over on my blog, and if interested everyone is invited to view the video I created using our photos. Click the image to the right for the video on YouTube.

One aspect of our vacation experience I do want to talk about was the wonderful ethnic diversity we encountered. Some of this arose while spending three days in Miami, a melting pot of culture that we greatly enjoyed. Our shore excursions to Nassau, St. Maarten, and Puerto Rico gave us additional opportunities to mingle with the locals and learn of new cultures with their unique histories. Additionally, the cruise line we chose, MSC Cruises, is an Italian company based exclusively in the Mediterranean until four years ago. Consequently, an overwhelming majority of the crew and passengers were from countries other than the US, primarily European and South American.

Admittedly at times this unusual percentage created minor shifts in the norm due to the language barriers. Chatting with your dining mates and fellow elevator riders wasn’t always productive! When we ran into Americans it was an instant mini-celebration. LOL!

Fortunately many “foreigners” speak English to some degree (many fluently), so conversation was usually possible even if limited. When it was, the joy of sharing with folks from different places with different ways of life made the effort SO worthwhile! The featured image for this blog is me with our guide in Nassau, a fabulous man named Tom. Best of all, as we discovered to our delight, humans have similar mannerisms, love on their children and family, laugh and smile when amused and happy, and speak the common language of cruise ship fun! Some of our most memorable times were the connections made with those we could not talk to at all, such as the adorable and delightful man from Argentina who snapped the photo below.

Lathans Marigot
Lathans in Merigot, French capital of St. Martin (Sint Maarten).

The fellow literally knew not a single word of English, and clearly was not used to handling a fancy camera like my photographer husband has, so it was a hilarious exercise in pantomime that was the best part of our visit to St. Maarten! We ran into him several times over the next few days on the ship, and each time his face lit up and a huge smile spread, and the amusing gestures commenced. As much as we wished we could strike up a conversation — since I have no doubt he had a rocking personality and sincerely kindhearted soul — our interactions are special memories because they were unusual.

This, and many other such encounters with people from all over the world, made a huge impression upon me. Not to get too heavy or touch on current events best left off the blog, but we do seem to live in a world filled with increasing strife and subsequent fracturing. It was truly marvelous and relieving to see none of this on display. On a ship with some 5000 people of every imaginable ethnic group, skin color, religion, political affiliation, and so on, one might expect conflicts or scuffles here and there. Not a one that we heard of. On the contrary, we witnessed endless examples of the complete opposite, such as children playing together and uniting to raise awareness of UNICEF, people sitting side by side as they strived to converse, and dozens of folks jammed into elevators bumping multi-hued elbows. To us it restored our faith in humanity and confirmed our deeply held belief that there are more decent people in this world than sensationalized media and crazed lunatics want us to believe.

What is noteworthy is that we heard many complaints, ALL from Americans, about how rude people were on the cruise. Frankly, we did not see it, and definitely not as an exclusive “European” trait as the complainers claimed. And then I returned home and become immediately enmeshed in a drama containing far, far more rudeness and downright bad behavior than anything seen on the cruise or a foreign shore. Taken altogether, it makes me question if we, in our culture, are losing the ability to recognize what real rudeness is, and how to act in a proper, professional, or simply kind manner. 

That unwarranted problem, on top of the borderline-pneumonia I’ve been battling for two weeks (and the diagnosed pneumonia in my husband) is another legitimate reason why this blog post is a rambling one because my muddled brain could think of nothing profound or Austen-ish to write about!

Still, I am going to attempt to tie my previous musings on courteous behavior and the joy of sharing with others by talking about our new Austenesque Guest Blogger opportunity. Hopefully everyone visited with Sophia Meredith yesterday when she was our spotlight guest author? It isn’t too late! Her excellent blog is right below mine, or just click HERE.

The Austen Authors are thrilled to extend our appreciation to those who write within this amazing genre by offering a chance to be our guest. If we could invite everyone to join us permanently we would, but alas twenty is the limit the overworked admins can handle. 🙂  Instead, we are currently seeking JAFF novelists to join us once a month on Sunday, with hopes to increase our hosting to twice monthly. How cool is that?! The process is simple: just read the info and then fill out the application form, both found on this page:
Guest Blog Application & Information  


 

I hope you enjoyed my rambling, fluffy, and somewhat insightful blog post. Feel free to pass along the information of our Guest Blogger invitation and share the page link! I’d love to hear of your experiences cruising, adventures in foreign places, and interactions with those from other cultures. Cheers! Sharon

SharonLathan graphic

13 Responses to Cruising for the Human Connection

  1. Sharon, I’m so glad you had so much fun on your cruise! And what a wonderful occasion to celebrate! Our family took a cruise to the Bahamas last year and absolutely loved it–we’ll go again, when/if we can afford it! And yes, one of the most wonderful things about cruising is the amazing diversity of people you meet. We met a girl from Bulgaria and a father and son from Norway, among other places. And like you, we had a wonderful guide in the Bahamas, whose name was Rodney. Definitely an experience everyone should have!

  2. Wonderful post. Flying to destinations would be OK for me as I don’t think I could take a cruise. Ever since the Lord of the Rings/ Hobbit movies, I’ve always wanted to go to New Zealand.

    Glad you are better. Have you been in contact with any of the other travelers? Have any of them been sick also? It is really unusual that both you and your husband are sick at the same time… with the same illness. Sometimes travelers experience respiratory conditions, such as you described…pneumonia, or legionnaires pneumonia. 5000 people in one place is a small city and bacteria is hard to control in such close quarters [close contact, such as crowded elevators, etc.]. Keep a watch on your health. We need you…for our own selfish reasons of course, but still, keep healthy.

    • We actually Facebook friended our dinner tablemates, who we became good friends with. But no mention of them being sick. I suppose if it were a major outbreak it would be all over the news! LOL! Just one of those things. Probably people do end up with colds and the like. Sometimes just being on a vacation anywhere can run down the defenses. All taken into account, I’d STILL leave tomorrow for another cruise if I could!

      And, oh yeah, New Zealand has been on my radar since LOTR. I wanna visit Hobbiton and climb Mount Doom!

      • That would be awesome. BTW…I forgot to congratulate you on your anniversary. That is excellent. It is funny to watch the numbers climb and then to suddenly look back and say…where did that time go? Again, glad your better, health wise and happy anniversary. JWG

  3. Sounds like you had a wonderful time! This summer is confined to Indiana and Illinois. Though a while back, quite a while, my son and I were guests of a college friend in Kyoto, Japan. Now that was an adventure. I loved the culture and my son was crazy about the BBQ Squid. No JA but plenty of history, culture, delicious food, and a trip to the Kabuki theater. Enjoy the rest of your summer. Jen Red

  4. I have to agree with you. We, Americans, have decided we dictate the behavior of the planet (shudder) and so have forgotten politeness, common courtesy, respectfulness, personal space and real life. DH and I have experienced the same thing in our travels. Hope your pneumonia gets gone expeditiously!

    • We are much better, thanks Stephanie. As I noted in reply to Glynis, Steve is out mowing the lawn. A mistake, in my estimation, but better than the “I think I’m gonna die” feeling for the past week. LOL!

      It is a strange thing about us Americans. I’ve never traveled abroad, but have always heard tales of how rude folks are in certain other countries. Now I really have to wonder. Plus, I think some of what is interpreted as being “rude” is simply the language barrier. I’m still praying for a revival in good old-fashioned manners, but don’t think it will happen in my lifetime, sadly. 🙁

  5. I’m so glad you both enjoyed your cruise. It sounds wonderful. I have never been cruising but if I could afford to I would cruise to Australia to see my daughter and her family. Sorry you have both been poorly but I hope you have recovered now. Thanks for sharing your experience ?

    • Oh, Australia! I would LOVE to go there, with maybe a long layover in New Zealand. *sigh. Never thought to cruise thataway. What a fun adventure that would be!

      Speaking of affording to cruise, while not as cheap a vacation as it used to be, cruising is still a very economical option. Consider that EVERYTHING is paid for! Food, room, entertainment, service, etc. Even going ashore is free. Additional costs can be incurred, mainly for alcohol and other specialty beverages, as well as for paid shore excursions, if one likes to gamble, or for special spa treatment. But those are all optional. One truly can go on a cruise and pay nothing but the base cost…. not that most people don’t get at least a few extras! And cruise lines give deals all the time. We got a 2:1 price, spending just under $2000 for both of us in a balcony cabin. Airfare to Miami was extra, of course, and we did spend probably another, oh $8-900 dollars for drinks, souvenirs, shore excursions, and other incidentals. All in all, IMO, not too bad for a whole week of supreme luxury, 5-star food, and exotic locations. 🙂

      And thanks, we are on the mend, finally! Hubby even felt well enough to go out and mow the lawn…. against his home nurse’s recommendation, I must say. Men! 😉

      • I’m so glad you are better and hope the mowing doesn’t cause a relapse! When I looked last year they were hoping to start cruising from England to Australia but it would take about 6 weeks and cost about £6000 I haven’t checked lately so it may be better now or they may have given the idea up ? obviously I would have to be retired to spend that long so even more need to win that lottery (I would stand more chance if they started putting my numbers in the draw!) thanks for the info though as it does sound amazing ?

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