We are called the “Squeeze Generation.” We are the younger baby boomers who have children at home and also have the responsibility of providing care for aging loved ones. In early December, the responsibility of caregiving, parenting, working full time and building a business became emotionally overwhelming. On a whim, I researched taking a solo cruise. I prayed about it, and the next day, I booked a five-night cruise from Jacksonville to the Bahamas. Although I was looking forward to the voyage, I was afraid. Afraid of feeling awkward and lonely among all the families and couples that I would see. I wondered what the crew would think. My oldest daughter asked me if I knew anyone who could share the suite with me. Despite all the doubt and all the questions, I’m glad I took the adventure.
The five days I spent on my solo cruise were the first time in several years that I did exactly what I wanted when I wanted. One day, I read Les Miserables for several hours. Some days, I took a brisk walk on the top deck. While on the tender from the ship to Half Moon Cay, I paused to thank God for the aqua blue water, the clear skies, the light breezes and the stunning beauty of everything around me. On the last sea day, I saw a majestic rainbow that started on the horizon and ended in the ocean. One Sunday, I spent most of the day in my cabin watching football. These five days allowed me to rest my body and refresh my soul. Just as important, I conquered all the fears. Nope, I wasn’t lonely, and I didn’t feel awkward. I spent time in Nassau, Bahamas all by myself at the end of my group tour. No one tried to steal my purse or take advantage of me. It was a delightful time.
The solo cruise was my sixth cruise, but I did not consider myself an expert. On the first night of the cruise, a brand new cruiser asked me,
“Is all this food free?”
“It’s included in the price of the cruise,” I explained.
The first time cruiser, who I’ll call Denise, thought that she had to pay extra for the food. She didn’t know that tips were automatically added to her stateroom account. She didn’t know to refuse to pay the first price offered at the Straw Market in Nassau. As Denise and I spent time together and I educated her on how to get the most out of the cruise, I realized that this solo cruise was not just for me. Denise was experiencing significant personal problems and needed a neutral person to listen and give advice. It was clear to me that it was a divine appointment. Denise’s problems were not solved at the end of the cruise, but she had been heard, and she had a different perspective.
I learned a few things during the solo cruise:
- The cruise ship is a small town. Someone in the town needs a friend, a confidant or an advisor;
- Nobody on the ship is concerned that I’m alone;
- Doing something that scares me gives me the courage to face the next challenge;
- Time away from loved ones replenishes my strength and equips me to provide the care that they need;
- Tomorrow is not promised. There is no perfect time to take a vacation. I must seize the day.
It’s been almost a month since I returned from the solo cruise, and guess what? I’m planning a solo vacation to Europe for the fall, and I’m considering another solo cruise next year.