Benny's World

Friday, April 08, 2011

Come as You Are

Dear BW Readers,

This is the second of the two part series I intended to write about why I think many folks like cruises.

The pic is yours truly in doing a sport activity on the boat, known as Boogie Boarding on the Flowrider.


The Flowrider pumps 13 thousands and recycles them every minute that it is turn on. As you can tell, I am not wearing any sort of make-up, I am a bit overweight but still not ashamed of wearing a bathing suit as over time I've lost 50 lbs. Yes, I'm certain there were opinions held by others of my appearance, but no one in general cared or said anything openly about it. There were plenty of men and women who were obese or underweight, wore thongs or speedos, but during pool time on the 15th and 16th decks, you came as you are. There were plenty who also never donned a swimsuit, more comfortable in shorts and sitting in the shade to read.

This observation also reminded me of the time when I was involved with the One America blog and with the campaigns. Many of us identified with Elizabeth Edwards as she struggled with her weight. She looked like one of us. And I liked it that on this cruise, people of all ages were comfortable with one another.

Of course, folks like cruising too because everything is provided for them--3 solid meals, plus snacks, entertainment of all sorts, room was attended to 3 times a day by many of the stateroom attendants, and there were people to have lunch with if you wanted. I particularly enjoyed the trivia contests and the dancing parties.

Mr. Benny and I had a great time, but I think we didn't totally drink the cruising kool-aid of some that we met on the ship. One woman was celebrating her 71st cruise. I asked why she was a repeat customer. She said she was born for cruising. Not certain what to make of it. Others said they built up "frequent cruising miles" or perks, whereby their trips, except for the flights and drinks, were almost paid for. There was one couple who had been on a cruise three weeks before and was from Bayonne, NJ. Bayonne is not a great town, so I suppose it was a sad commentary that this couple felt the need to get away on cruises frequently. I think I would have just left NJ and move to Florida.

Drawbacks to cruises: Royal Caribbean in particular "nickels and dimes" you for even soft drinks. We paid extra for those sodas. I drank club soda most nights at dinner, and if we wanted any wine or anything else, we paid for those (which were few) at an entertainment establishment because they were cheaper than the Main Dining room.

Overall, I would recommend a cruise to any landlovers for a different experience. I don't recommend a big ship, such as the Allure of the Seas for very introverted folks; 6200 folks and 2200 staff is a lot of people to encounter daily. But would I do this every year, I think Mr. Benny and I believe that we can wait for a couple of years before going again as we want to do more urban trips in the future.

But I do like the idea of "Come as You Are."

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Wednesday, April 06, 2011

One Love, One World

Dear Readers,
I have been dilatory in posting. I think after Keith Olbermann left MSNBC and especially Elizabeth Edwards' passing, I had a lack of things to write as both of them sustained me in my thoughts.

I was on a cruise with Mr. Benny last week for our 10th marriage anniversary. Everyone notices my tan, but many do not know that in spite of the lack of TV and internet, I still thought about One America. But my scope broadened with One World, which is something EE (via JRE sorta embraced) was looking at during the campaign in 2008.

A week ago, I was sitting in one of the cafes on the ship (Allure of the Seas) and it occurred to me that I was part of a big planet of folks. There were 6200 customers from 55 countries. There were 2200 personnel from 77 countries, and they truly wanted to be a part of our lives for that week and many more weeks, depending on when one could cruise again. Most from Royal Caribbean work 7 months, then have 2 months off, then get on again. They work 10-16 hours a day, 7 days a week. I admire that tenacity for service to be part of Royal Caribbean.

Last week, our tour went to Haiti, Jamaica, and Mexico. I have to say that Royal Caribbean bought properties in most of those places and I didn't get a real feel for any of them. Mr. Benny and I chose not to get off the boat in Jamaica since we had visited the place twice and we wanted to have options within the ship to participate.

But it was a golden night when the Allures of the Seas band played Bob Marley tunes after being in Jamaica. I danced with many women and a few men that night in Deck 5. In particular, I enjoyed dancing to "One Love". That's when I realized I was part of one world too.

The next day, I thought of Elizabeth Edwards, and her vision to persuade us to come together as one world. We had so much diversity in terms of wealth and those of us who had to scrape our monies together (Mr Benny and I had to come to a conclusion that we faced before: we will splurge at times, but we will get the $$ back and save in between). Many on the cruise were retired and had cruised many times. Must be nice.

Those who follow me on FB will see the pics from the cruise. Mr. Benny and I did some "wild" activities--snorkeling twice, the zip line, and the FlowRider, which was a big challenge, but we had such great fun in tackling those challenges.

To dance with me, here's a clip of Bob Marley's "One Love"