Introvert on a Cruise: Finding Peace, Quiet and Reflection
In late December, I found myself sitting next to a window in one of the formal dining rooms aboard the Royal Princess cruise ship. It was quiet. They had just opened for dinner service on the first night of a 10-day caribbean cruise, and I was one of the first guests to arrive. As I looked out the window, I found myself mesmerized by the view of the waves of the Atlantic Ocean breaking along the side of our ship as it cut through the indigo blue waters.
It was dusk, and I was enjoying the last threads of orange sunset glowing through streaks of grey clouds. I paused and began to feel a warm glow begin to build in my heart as my body began to relax. It took several minutes for my mind, body and heart to fully register the moment.
My personality tends to prefer having things at least some what mapped out. Living in so much uncertainty has often felt like I was traveling along a path that is shrouded in fog.
This trip was an unexpected opportunity that I only found out I would be taking four weeks earlier. As I began to enjoy the crisp, green leaves of my dinner salad, I began to reflect about the past few years of my life. There has been an ever-increasing lesson in learning to live in life’s unknown.
My personality tends to prefer having things at least some what mapped out. Living in so much uncertainty has often felt like I was traveling along a path that is shrouded in fog without a clear destination in sight. This part of my life has brought with it a lot of self-rediscovery and a reminder of what I would like to have in my life. Travel will certainly be part of that.
As I continued to get lost in my thoughts, dusk began to fade into darkness. All I could see and hear were the waves from the boat and the sounds of us moving through the water. Even in the darkness, I found myself rarely taking my eyes off the water as if I were waiting for something to appear on the horizon. In that moment, I felt a peace amongst the uncertainty. I allowed myself to be gently rocked by the rolling movement of the boat.
During my 10-day journey, I found many of these moments of reflection; often times there was a sunrise or sunset involved. It was a wonderful opportunity to allow myself moments of stillness and peace. Each time it was as if my body was exhaling a long “Ahhh…” and another layer of tension would release.
As a solo traveler, I felt more like an observer than a participant. I loved this. It is the introvert’s way to party!
This voyage started the day before New Year’s Eve 2015. The new year is always a perfect time to reflect on what has happened and to allow myself to dream about what is to come in the new year. We spent the first two days at sea, headed from Port Everglades in Florida to our first port of call in Antigua. Having a few days at sea was a great way to start off the cruise as I enjoyed being able to settle in to all there is to do on the ship… and there was a lot!
There were plenty of celebrations happening around the boat over the holiday, from a three-story midnight balloon drop in the grand atrium to a party of live music and dancing under the stars. It was a fantastic way to celebrate new beginnings. New Year’s Eve was a formal night and everyone was dressed in their finest. It was a fun night to people-watch. As a solo traveler, I felt more like an observer than a participant. I loved this. It is the introvert’s way to party!
I enjoyed two shows that evening. The first was the ship’s new production called “Colors of the World”. It had vibrant costuming and lots of dancing and singing. I then hustled myself to the other end of the ship to see comedian Cary Long perform stand up comedy in the Vista Lounge. He masterfully talked about relationship dynamics. Couples around the whole theater were laughing and pointing to their partner say things like, “That is so you!” or “I totally do that!” It was one of my favorite shows during the entire cruise.
With the high energy and entertainment surrounding the holiday that evening, I was feeling some energy overload after the shows. I decided to find a quiet place on the boat. I ended up investigating one of the upper decks at the back of the of the boat. I found the silence I was looking for. There were just a few people sitting around some outdoor tables having quiet conversations. I found a lounge chair along the railing over looking the churning water from the boats propeller. I felt the mild breeze touch my skin as I leaned back in the lounger and looked skyward. The sight was beautiful—the pitch-black sky was dotted with twinkling white stars.
There was surreal feeling of stillness looking out over the water in contrast to the celebration taking place on the boat.
After a while, I realized midnight was drawing near so I found my way along the upper deck to the party under the stars. I arrived right as the countdown began. There were two decks of people counting down in sync together. Anticipation was in the air. As midnight arrived, the ships horn rang out with the cruise line’s signature call. Between the breeze, the horn calling and the electricity in the air, goosebumps washed over my skin. Then the party started rocking. The ship’s house band “New Deal” played as people danced and celebrated into the night.
In true introvert fashion, I wandered my way to a relatively quiet spot and found myself once again looking out over the ocean. I watched as the waves rolled by and could hear the party in the distance. There was surreal feeling of stillness looking out over the water in contrast to the celebration taking place on the boat. It felt like a little universe floating in the vast Atlantic Ocean. I remember feeling so blessed to experience it. It was the moment I knew 2016 was going to be a year of new beginnings. It was a magnificent way to cruise into new year!