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My Mom never got to hear about my first (and so-far last) cruise which I went on with my Sertoma group. I knew I was going before she passed away, that’s how far in advance you have to book them, she would have loved to hear about all the things I saw and how much fun we had. The cruise was a Godsend really, a pick-me-up after a year of grieving, I did almost everything I wanted to ensure I got the most out of the four day getaway. It was a significant life event, one I will never forget.
We all have a bucket list, I guess, and this cruise allowed my to accomplish at least two things on mine. The cruise itself, since I had never been on one, and swimming with dolphins-an experience that I will never be able to compare anything else to. My four days at sea and the excursion to Cozumel was so uplifting and good for my soul, I even felt I deserved it after working for a whole year to get healthy and be able to proudly don a bikini. I struggle constantly with body image and wanted to feel good about myself, so I adopted a Paleo lifestyle and by the time of the cruise, I was twenty pounds lighter.
When we moved to southeast Texas in 2010, the first group I became involved with was Sertoma. Now these ladies in my group, for there are many chapters, are a hoot-so much fun to be around, while at the same time true to their goal of serving mankind. I took the role of social director for the first two years, and we talked about a cruise, but it wasn’t until Linda Borel became social director that it happened. I was happy regardless and the planning began, down to ordering specific shirts for particular events once we boarded the ship. We were known as the Sassy Sertoma Sisters and boy, that describes us to a T! I’m pretty sure we had quite the reputation as seekers of fun by the time we sashayed off the ship.
Day one was hectic as we boarded the ship and got through security, long lines and short patience didn’t help, yet we were all excited and filled with expectations of good times ahead, so we didn’t complain…much. Certain members of our group snuck some contraband on board and that added a sense of nervousness. All went well however, and soon we were being shown to our rooms. I actually made notes in case I wrote about this some day, so I know for instance, that my room number was 6284 and I shared it with Dedie Orta. I was one of the lucky ones that only had two to a room, it’s quite a squeeze to fit three in, yet some of our group had to. That was an advantage of booking early, I got to pick my roommate and the fact that it would just be us two. Having never been on a cruise, I was determined to have fun while sticking to my budget, so I wrote down everything I spent so I would know how much I had left on my card. (You put a certain amount on a spending card they give you at the start of the cruise). That first night, we donned our special T-shirts and had dinner in the dining room at the rear of the ship. It was so beautiful, I had to take a ton of pictures of how gorgeous the water looked. Determined to stay busy and get the most out of my experience, I went to a couple of shows after dinner and then ventured into the piano bar. That became our favorite destination for the duration of the cruise-at least at night. I also went ahead and booked my excursion from the ship, it was the best price that way, which was to swim with the dolphins once we got to Cozumel. Later, I enjoyed my first appletini-it was my first sticker shock of the evening at $10.65! Some of my “Sisters” were kind enough to share their alcohol allotments with me, so I would not have to buy all of my drinks. They really wanted to make sure I had a good time, and they had been on many cruises before. I tried a pomegranate martini at another point in the cruise, which seemed to be more to my liking.
Day two I was dubbed the lucky cruise virgin after winning the grand prize at a jewelry seminar I attended. It was a tanzanite necklace valued at about $300 so I was very excited and hooked on more chances to win stuff. Which I did! That was between breakfast and lunch-after which I attended another seminar for the diamond company we would be visiting in Cozumel, and won another piece of jewelry. This time, it was a pretty bracelet made of Larimar Caribbean stones. That evening was the semi-formal dinner and we all wore our bling and best outfits. So fun! That was followed up by more clubbing and another visit to the piano bar where we met the greatest people from New Braunfels-I still talk to them this day! After meeting them, every time we walked into the piano bar and they spotted us, it was like we were rock stars or something. They made a big fuss and made us ladies feel very special.
Day three was finally the day we landed in Cozumel and I was so exited to go on my excursion. I was also slightly nervous, never having been to that part of Mexico and unsure of the rules, how we would get where we were going, if I would have to swim far to get to the location, and on top of that, my friends that were to accompany me were so hung over, I was afraid they wouldn’t make it. They drug themselves off of the ship though, and by the time we were entering the dolphin pools, they were right as the mail (as Doc Holiday says). One cannot describe the feeling of swimming belly to belly with a wild animal, let’s just say it was exhilarating and all I wanted it to be! I wished we got to stay longer but we were soon off to experience some beach we weren’t supposed to, and then go shopping like a boss! Some of us had purchase valuable coupon books on the ship and now was the time to run from shop to shop, redeeming coupons and shopping for the best deals we could find, all in about one hour! You only get 5 or 6 hours once you land in Cozumel, so its a whirlwind of activity if you had booked a four hour excursion. I bought a cool pair of sunglasses from Del Sol that change colors in the sun, a color changing T-shirt for David, also from Del Sol and picked up a few more (free) jewelry items. I purchased some things for the kids and proceeded to join the ladies for an authentic margarita at the club closest to the ship. The water was indescribable, so blue it was turquoise and I took pictures ad nauseum which should be a crime. I took so many pictures, I even got sick of them, so I will only include a few. I took my pictures off the computer and these were all I could find. 🙁
The last day was an anticipated art auction, Dedie attended with me and you won’t believe this but…I won something again!! It was the top prize of champagne and two paintings, I just could not believe my luck. I was allowed to pick two from an assortment previously chosen by the auction directors, I only had to pay for the shipping and framing. They are displayed proudly on the walls of my new home and mach my decor perfectly. The last evening was enjoyable with dinner and a fantastic show called The Big Easy, later we closed down the piano bar and I just have to say, we were all pretty lit by that point. I remember the next morning having breakfast on the Lido deck, we were all feeling pretty rough…all except Dedie- she has the good sense not to drink, therefore she was bright eyed and bushy tailed. Like I stated earlier, I was determined to have the time of my life, and I can safely say it was all that and a bag of chips. I will never forget it and I’ll always be grateful to my Sertoma sisters for showing me what a good time can be when you are with friends that care about you and your well being. I can’t wait until the next one!