Confessions of a Calorie-Crazed Cruiser

You go on as a passenger and you come off as cargo! Probably the only pitfall of speaking on cruise ships. Other than that it is a delightful experience I have enjoyed for decades. It's great to trade wings for sea legs occasionally. September through December is a very hectic speaking schedule with lots of international jet lag, so at the end of my fall "season" I usually kick off January with a cruise. I come home refreshed, let my body clock return to normal, and then am ready to tackle the new year.

One in particular was the Royal Caribbean Cruise Line's Nordic Prince, leaving Florida and stopping at 7 ports on the 10-day itinerary. The best part of speaking on cruise ships is giving talks but still being treated as a passenger,  and having the rest of the time to do your own thing. Great timing to gather holiday gifts at incredible duty-free ports for the next year.

We sailed from Miami towards Labadee Shores in Haiti, a private island owned by RCCL. Rough seas detoured us toward Nassau where my friend and I (yes, you can take a friend - another perk) took a water taxi over to Paradise Island, the gambling mecca of the Caribbean (no I don't, I'd rather shop). Nights are filled with the Captain's Gala, Theme Nights and opportunities for dress from casual to formal. There are activities galore on board from ice carvings, limbo dancing, movies and games, and thank goodness a fitness center and walking/jogging decks where an avid fitness fanatic like myself can counterbalance the calories.

On to Basseterre in St. Kitts, St. Georges in Grenada, and Port of Spain in Trinidad. You always had the  " three S options" - scuba, snorkel and sail or sun, sightsee and shop. I always chose the latter. This gal has her priorities straight. Most of my lecturing was done on the days at sea, and occasionally at the end of a day in port. Topics are usually informational, but more entertaining and geared to an older crowd. I offered motivation/lifestyle, relationships, stress management, communication skills and goal setting.

We were on our way to St. Lucia when we were re-routed to Martinique, not due to weather but other circumstances. Martinique is a charming French-owned island, very European on its beaches and in its restaurants. Topless is de rigeur, I opted for escargot. We got to Phillipsburg, St. Maarten, one of my favorite islands, which is divided into the Dutch and French side. Rumor has it that a Dutchman and Frenchman arrived at the same time, stood somewhere on the island back to back, and agreed to walk in opposite directions until they met and at that point would divide the island. As the rumor goes, the Dutchman laid down to take a nap and therefore that is why the French side is larger than the Dutch.

Our last stop was St. Thomas in the U.S. Virgin Islands, the shopping mecca of the Caribbean and with some of the most beautiful beaches in the world at Megan's Bay and Morningstar Beach at Frenchman's Reef. A great ending to a terrific trip. When we disembarked in San Juan I had accomplished all my goals. Speaking on cruise ships is a viable opportunity to meet new people, network with new contacts, try out new material, get a super vacation and balance out one's life. Other than the nine meals a day (yes, NINE!) the temptation to rest and relax is equally enticing. I am left with incredible memories of exotic places, a great tan, super bargains, many new friends and business contacts (got a job in January as a result) plus an enlarged charge card and body. But at least I've learned the difference between port and starboard. Port is the smoked salmon and starboard is the beef wellington.


Happy cruising!



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