What kind of person is afraid of a cruise ship? (Photo: Thinkstock)
This weekend I will tackle one of my greatest irrational fears — cruising.
When I was a kid, the Giant supermarket where my mom went grocery shopping started selling these Charlie Brown encyclopedias. A new one went on sale each week, and unlike traditional encyclopedias that were organized alphabetically, these Charlie Brown encyclopedias were organized by topic.
Number nine in the series, the one on natural disasters, did a real number on me. I became obsessed with tornadoes, hurricanes, earthquakes, and mudslides. But more than any of those, I became completely and irrationally afraid of the tsunami.
A tsunami, my encyclopedia told me, was a series of waves caused by a large displacement of water, often caused by an earthquake beneath the sea floor. The accompanying illustration showed a terrified Snoopy about to be engulfed by a giant wave. Now in reality, tsunamis don’t really tower as high as skyscrapers. Yet that is the image that stuck in my mind.
And stuck. And stuck.
These people look so carefree and happy on their cruise. Could I be carefree and happy on a cruise? (Photo: Celebrity Cruises)
And that is the reason I have never, ever set foot on a cruise ship. Now I know that tsunamis do not exist in the open ocean (those are rogue waves). And still the nightmare of the tsunami has kept me from being able to board a ship knowing that I would not be able to swim back to land.
That will all change Sunday, when I will board the Celebrity Summit from Celebrity Cruises for their Top Chef at Sea trip.
I asked all of you for some advice for a nervous first-time cruiser. Here is what you told me.
1. Always know when the ship leaves the port. Double-check when the ship leaves the port. Get there early — earlier than you think you need to be there. Check in in advance, and print out everything you will need.
2. Bring loose-fitting clothes since you will consume a lot.
3. Bring earplugs, a flask, and your own wine/beer bottle opener.
4. Read the essay on cruising in David Foster Wallace’s “A Supposedly Fun Thing I’ll Never Do Again.”
5. Bring your own beach towel and a coffee thermos.
6. Relax and make sure you are open to meeting new people.
7. Bring a fancy dress for the captain’s dinner.
8. Pack your own Dramamine.
9. Stop eating right now. Seriously, right now, because all you are going to do is eat.