A Cruise for Christmas? Yes!

Reflecting back on last Christmas, I am pleased that we did something different.  A one week cruise from Florida to Belize, Honduras and Mexico got me and my 2 sons away and planted some seeds of travel for all of us.  This past week memories of that cruise as well as my first cruise with Mike have been replaying in my mind. If you haven’t tried a cruise yet, it is something to consider.

Last year  my husband was gone and I did not want to deal with it.  I was fortunate to be able take a break from life and join my boys on a completely different version of Christmas.  Life long traditions such as writing Christmas cards, decorating a tree and the house, baking cookies and buying presents were far too painful and I had no energy.  I even went off Facebook so I wouldn’t have to see the happiness of everyone enjoying the holidays.

For our 10 year anniversary we had celebrated with a cruise from New York to Bermuda.  It was truly our first full week vacation ever, even our honeymoon was cut short due to a new job. We really enjoyed the indulgence of the delicious meals, the midnight buffet, the bars and casino, the nightly shows and the pool area.  On that cruise we were assigned a table with 8  guests.  We met another couple and spent a lot of time socializing with them.  We also went on a few day excursions in Bermuda.  We took a snorkeling trip out of Hamilton and another day took the public bus to Horseshoe Bay.  The pink sand and rock formations on the beach were incredible.

The best story from that cruise is that I of course had mentioned that we were celebrating our 10 year anniversary.  So on the 4th night of the 6 night cruise the phone in our room rang and we were officially invited to sit at the Captain’s table for dinner.  Well, that sounded nice, but we had now made friends.  I wasn’t sure we wanted to sit there. Well after she told me that it was a great honor, and that we would get free drinks and better food,  we agreed.  We met some other VIPs, like us, for cocktails first.  Then, we were seated boy -girl -boy -girl at the dining table,  a considerable distance from our spouse.

Our meal was lobster and filet mignon.  Delicious.  I asked for white wine when I sat down. It appeared that I had my own server.  Every time I took a sip of wine, he refilled my glass.  I really wanted to try the red wine.  So I tried to drink the white wine faster.  But he was always there filling up my glass.  Meanwhile, Mike was at the other end of the table on his 3rd lobster tail.  Somehow I finally finished my white wine and was able to taste the red wine.  The men I was sitting next to wished that their wives had enjoyed their wine as much as me.  Well, I am sure the rest of the night was fun, but I do remember not feeling too well the next day.

We never did go on another cruise but we did enjoy that one. So when Christmas was coming it sounded like a good plan for me and my young adult sons.

My plan wasn’t a bad one.  I knew what I needed.  Sunshine.  The cruise was heading to warmth and sunshine.  I wouldn’t have to cook or shop or drive for a week.  My kids were agreeable.

So we took a Norwegian Cruise from Tampa, Florida.  We arrived a day before, early in the day. Once we arrived at the hotel, my boys decided to watch football and nap in the room.  I went exploring.  From the Hilton hotel it was a nice walk around the Riverwalk which later that night hosted a lighted boat parade for the holidays.  As I was wandering about I noticed signs for The Florida Aquarium Downtown Tampa. That seemed like a fun place to visit on my own. They have lots of interesting fish and exhibits.  I actually learned that horseshoe crabs, which are plentiful at the beach by my house, have 10 eyes.

Making the most of our time on the cruise was easy.  We enjoyed some of the excursions even though I know they can be overpriced.  In Honduras we enjoyed a day at a local beach, swam and had lunch. In Belize, we went to an Ecopark for lunch, took a nature tour and swam in a pool.  After that we explored some awesome Mayan pyramids at Altun Ha. On Christmas morning we arrived in Cozumel and swam with dolphins.  Swimming with dolphins was always on my bucket list and I was happy to be in the water with them.  It was one of the first times I had felt joy in a few months and I needed it.

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The best part of this cruise was being with my sons.  I am so blessed to have such awesome young men in my life. Having dinner with my kids every night at 8:00 with fabulous wait service and lovely choices on the menu was especially nice. Reserving a spa membership meant that I could go to the quiet room in the spa anytime and use the hot tub and pool with no little children around.  I indulged in a massage and acupuncture treatment as well on the trip.

Going on a cruise for the holidays with the family is different.  That was the year to do something different and so we did. My kids noticed a few big family reunion groups around and thought that would have been cool to have had all the relatives on the ship with us.  Maybe that is something to think about for the future.  I also noticed a few solo travelers on the ship.  Maybe that is something to consider as well.

Have you ever been on a cruise? What do you think?


At the age of 51 I unexpectedly became a widow. For the first 6 months after my husband died, I was in shock and numb. I journaled and with the help of friends, family and therapists was able to get back to living my old life, even if it is now very different. Before I was married, I had spent a semester in England and backpacked around Europe. My husband and I moved from New York to California for 8 years and started a family. Travelling took a back seat to raising a family and going to work everyday. Since the loss of my husband I have visited a lot of places with family and friends and took a solo trip to Thailand. I am enjoying sharing my stories and adventures as well as some of my insights to how I am traveling the path of being a widow. I hope to share my stories and adventures as well as some thoughts on being a middle aged widow. While I have some great experiences traveling to Thailand and cruising to Central America, some of my adventures involve a trip to see a Broadway show in nearby Manhattan and a shopping trip at Bed, Bath and Beyond. If I can inspire anyone to go out and continue to live a good life that would be my greatest accomplishment.

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25 Responses

  1. Dianne Guarino says:

    Cruises are great! Get to see a lot of places, no worries about driving and getting lost, good food and drink and entertainment, usually meet some nice people on board…what’s not to like?

  2. cedar51 says:

    never been on a cruise (as such), but they sure look fun – plenty of cruise ships visit New Zealand and my city, Auckland is often a port of call. In fact sometimes there are 3 or even more ships in port…

  3. runawaywidow says:

    I would love to visit New Zealand one day. The pictures I have seen look beautiful.

  4. You are dealing with your loss in a very healthy way. Have a great time traveling, and take more beautiful pictures!

  5. Really Nice…..Advance Happy Christmas

  6. Bea dM says:

    That was a brilliant and excellent way to deal with that first potentially grief-filled Xmas. Good and also brave!

  7. realmofvibes says:

    Wow. You have some crazy adventures! I went on a cruise when I was a teenager and it was fun. I prefer land vacations, though!

  8. It’s ironic that the last year before my husband died we, too, took a cruise to Bermuda. First cruise for us both and free (even better) since a large tour company sent me on a writing review. I look back on that week now and wonder what we would have decided to do next if we had the chance. With grown kids and grands, doing a Christmas cruise that first year – or since has not been an option but changing things up has been and, as you saw from my blog post tonight, even little changes help. After all, change is really our lives now.

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