Best Vacation Story: The Worst (And Best) Cruise Ever

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Best Vacation Story: The Worst (And Best) Cruise Ever

I don’t remember where I found the deal, but life had gotten a bit stressful, and it seemed like a good idea. My husband wasn’t so enthusiastic, but for me there are (almost) no bounds to bonding, and his objections gave way to assent.

So in the spring of 2001, we delivered our heart-sick-just-discharged-getting-better-and-much-beloved black lab, Elsie, back to the vet—this time just for boarding. Then we hit the road for the long drive to Port Canaveral, Florida, where we’d board our Fantasy fun ship to the Bahamas.

Our daughter had just turned 16, and our son was 11.

The other day, I asked everyone about their three best and three worst memories of that trip.

My husband listed his best as the ship’s food, the beach in Nassau, and snorkeling over coral.

His worst were wasted time on the boat, the trip expense, and when the transmission went out on the car.

Our daughter listed her best as buying a butterfly bracelet and getting her hair braided in Nassau, snorkeling together, and seeing dolphins by moonlight.

Her worst were how tiny the rooms were, not being able to room all together, and the car’s transmission going out on the way home.

Jeremy remembered the food (he ate a lot of pizza), walking around Nassau, and buying some coins. Other than that, he says, he doesn’t remember much.

Here’s some of what I remember.

I purchased a good set of walkie-talkies before we left in order to keep track of each other on the ship.

I bought a white cotton tablecloth and set of napkins all trimmed with lace in Nassau, although I’d asked for permanent press. The vendor lady rolled her eyes and shook her head at me. “Why are white ladies afraid of ironing?” she grumbled. Then she gave me a lesson in pressing that included sprinkling and freezing.

After we docked back in Florida, we went on to Cocoa Beach. A wave there knocked me off balance while I waded knee-deep in the Atlantic. I heard something pop.

That night we went to Capone’s Dinner Theater where we had to knock three times and give the secret password to enter.

By the end of the evening, I could barely limp, so we headed for the nearest Florida Hospital emergency room. We spent quite a few hours there, and I left with a brace.

On the way home, with my leg extended on the back seat, possibly on my son’s lap, the transmission blew up. We were stranded in Elizabethtown, Kentucky, for two days. I remember hobbling a couple blocks to Long John Silver’s for supper.

When we finally arrived home, the vet told us Elsie had died.

An MRI showed that rogue wave had completely torn my ACL, and I had surgery the next month.

Even though family life was a bit rough back then, that my daughter, without much thinking, named togetherness and lack of togetherness as best and worst memories—​as well as a simple butterfly bracelet that I can’t remember and that, she says, broke a short time later—​surprised me. My husband agrees the sacrifice was worth that alone—​though I doubt I’ll ever get him on another cruise.

I’d go in a heartbeat.

Your turn: Tell us about your best—​or worst—vacation memory.


Sandra Heska King tells stories and scatters words from the 150-year-old-plus farmhouse where her husband grew up. Connect with her on her blogFacebook and Twitter.

This post originally appeared on the blog of Sandra Heska King. Sandra submitted it as a part of our High Calling linkup on Best Vacation Stories.