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A Virgin Cruise

Any virgin experience upsets a person’s schema, especially if that human, me, has lived more than seventy years. By now, I have adopted mental structures of preconceived ideas, a framework for organizing and perceiving new information. Rolynn’s own schemata.

Since I like upsetting the status quo, we took a 13-day cruise on the Great Lakes in June. Why do I call this ‘upsetting’? Readers of this blog know I loved my thirty years as a boater. Intrepid, our sweet 45-foot Kady-Krogen trawler, took us on amazing trips around the Washington State’s San Juans, up into the Gulf Islands of B.C. and all the way to Alaska. Unforgettable adventures, yes, but a stolid thirty-year schema.

Joining 93 other cruisers and the same number of staff, on Ocean Navigator (pictured) was a schema jolt for me.

On Intrepid we managed every task, from piloting, engineering, and boat maintenance, to cooking, cleaning, loading on water, fuel, and supplies. On Ocean Navigator, the staff quietly moved the boat port to port, attending to our every need. Our cabin was fluffed up morning and night, the chef created fabulous meals three times a day, and any beverage we wanted was ours for the drinking all day and all night long. We were entertained and informed by staff; even the port excursions were choreographed completely. All we had to do was show up!

We were awkward about the schema at first, a little confused, and a little fearful. For instance, we squeezed all our clothing and empty suitcases into the cupboards, not realizing we could have stowed luggage under the beds. How much should we dress up for dinner? Could I get coffee before breakfast hours? Where do I wash our clothes? What about tipping certain staff when gratuities were included in the price of the voyage? How do I keep from eating/drinking too much? Who do we sit with at dinner? Where? Do we continue to sit with the same people every evening? Do we ask them if they want to free-range? What kind of people sign up for a cruise like this one? Will I like them? Is the captain and his staff up to the task, especially in foggy/smokey conditions? How do we pick a good tour? I’ve had a handful of massages in my past, so why sign up for two of them in fourteen days? With all the free time I have will I read and write like the wind?

Since I’m still new to cruises and my schema is at a developmental stage, I have no answers and no conclusions. For 2024, we’ve lined up two cruises, continuing with the small-boat theme: a river cruise in Portugal and a salty cruise around the Aegean sea. I figure after my third cruise, I’ll have added more framework to this new way of boating. I’ll let you know then what I’ve learned.


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