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Cruising again

Su Lum

My daughter Hillery, her husband, Bruce, and I are going on a two-week cruise, which of course raises concerns about my 99-year-old mother, who is hanging on by a thread back in New Jersey. But life goes on, I had the same worry when we cruised two years ago, and I am so ready to get out of Dodge and onto the sea that I can almost taste it.When Hillery invited me to the first cruise – seven days in the Caribbean on Holland America – I approached it somewhat as if I were going to the gallows. I could not imagine being trapped on a big boat for seven days and was in a complete tizzy over the packing, all the forms to be filled out online, getting a passport on time (dicey) and checking my lists twice and thrice because once on that ship if I had forgotten anything it was just too bad.I came back a convert. I had never had such a relaxing vacation in my life: no decisions to make, no phone to ring, a private deck looking out over miles of ocean with, as Carl Sagan would say, billions and BILLIONS of stars overhead, unlimited amounts of sensational food, at sea level so I could breathe without having to backpack oxygen, and any number of small adventures available at our ports of call. I had just gotten started looking into the shocking hierarchy of the members of the crew when the trip was over – far too short. This cruise will be twice as long: 12 nights, 14 days (really 13 days – they kick you off early in the morning to clean the premises and load the next cattle cars of tourists onto the boat for the next departure). The duration of this trip will be a test of my conversion.Last time we set out from Fort Lauderdale, a hassle because I could only get oxygen on flights to Miami, two hours away with a taxi driver who had lost his bearings. This time we’re taking the Celebrity cruise line out of Galveston, Texas, easier to get to. Adults only, does this mean codgers or hell-raisers?After stops at Cozumel, Costa Maya and Puerto Limon, we dip into the Panama Canal, proceed to Montego Bay and George Town, then jiggity jog back to Galveston. I don’t understand the “dipping into the Panama Canal” part, all I know is that if you want to go through the entire canal you have to leave from Florida and end up in San Diego – it takes at least 16 days and adds the cost of one-way plane tickets.I think we go through one lock of the Panama Canal and then turn around in some lake, but with the holiday rush at The Aspen Times I haven’t looked it up so I’m waiting to be surprised. If it’s stupendous, there’s always the 16-day trip waiting to be taken.No problem packing this time, I’ve got it DOWN. I did the online registration and did not even experience palpitations when I got the message congratulating me for having successfully completed it. Passport up to date, dress-up clothes still in the closet from the last trip, though the pants of the Michael Jackson outfit are way too big now – off to Susie’s for a replacement. This time I know to stock my freezer and larder with food for several days after my return, because last time (only seven days!) I got so spoiled by the culinary largess on board that I forgot how to fend for myself and found myself in the aisles of City Market in a fugue state, having no idea what to buy. Imagine what it will be like after two weeks at the trough! Su Lum is a longtime local who can’t wait to find out. Her column appears every Wednesday in The Aspen Times.


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