Author’s Note: I recently returned from the voyage of a lifetime. Along with my good friend and colleague Galina, we sailed with the Winter Enrichment Voyage through Semester at Sea. This combines travel, adventure, workshop speakers, relaxation, and more. Enrichment Voyages are billed as “Trips for intelligent people who like to have fun.” We traveled to eight countries, two oceans, two continents, experienced Christmas and New Year’s Eve with the Pacific breeze in our hair, and basically had the time of our lives! I blogged along the way while on board, but due to limited Internet connection, I’m posting them now so follow along and enjoy! First up, the Bahamas!
December 16, 2013
I am writing this from room 3062 on the MV Explorer, docked in Nassau, Bahamas!!! I can hardly believe it. We started planning this trip five months ago, and it didn’t really hit me until we rounded the corner, saw the incredible aquamarine waters of the Caribbean and saw one beautiful blue ship in the distance.
Before we got here, we had quite the epic travel journey. We left campus at 7pm yesterday because I’m a crazy person when it comes to travel and need to be there super early. By the way, our flight wasn’t until 11pm! Needless to say, we had plenty of time to spare, so Galina and I kicked off our trip with a cocktail at the bar and a great convo about life. Before we got on the first leg, I had a minor panic attack when I thought I lost my passport. This was my biggest nightmare because everything else can be fairly easily replaced, but the passport is kind of a big deal. I had images of me stuck in Bahamian customs, but it actually just slipped under my chair. First catastrophe solved!
We boarded our jetBlue flight and although it was only four and a half hours from SFO to Fort Lauderdale, it felt like so much more. I can never get comfortable enough to sleep on planes and despite the fact that I packed my down pillow into a SpaceSaver bag, I only got about 45 minutes sleep. We touched down at 7am EST in Fort Lauderdale and then became the longest layover of my life. I would not wish five hours in the Fort Lauderdale airport on anyone! We boarded around 1pm and 25 minutes later we were in the Bahamas! The moment you stepped onto the gangway you could feel the change in the temperature, which was made even more evident because Galina had on a puffy down vest, scarf, and wool hat due to the plane temps. We breezed through Customs, easily got a cab, and then were on our way!
We ended up waiting to board for about 45 minutes. During this time we were in line with everyone else who was waiting to board and Galina and I soon realized that the average age of an Enrichment Voyager was approximately 65 years young. We knew that many Semester at Sea alumni come back with their families, or during their retirement, but it honestly felt like we were dumped in the middle of a senior citizen home. To be fair, we both desperately needed a shower, nap, and meal, but there were several moments where I wondered what the hell I had gotten myself into.
Before we knew it, we had cleared Customs (again), handed over our passports to the SAS staff (which was slightly terrifying!) and then stepped on board!!! We had to get some paperwork out of the way, and in the process got to see a good portion of the ship. It was like an out of body experience to be on board after seeing so many pictures, videos and hearing stories from so many of my friends and colleagues around the country who have sailed with SAS. The only way to describe my feeling would be giddy.
We went to the Aquamarine Dining Room, which was a sit-down, beautifully decorated area at the back of the ship. They seat you like most cruise lines, so we shared a meal with Jonnie, a fabulous retired teacher from Richmond, California (what up, NorCal!), plus Joan and Nick, a couple from Boston who are both international business professors at Assumption College. It was a table full of educators!
To be completely honest, both G and I were not looking forward to dinner with total strangers, who were 30 years our senior, but we shared a lovely meal together, and great conversation to boot! We covered the educational system, the RLC system at Santa Clara, and spent a good amount of time talking about the impact of the new Jesuit Pope! It was actually an incredible time and G and I learned a good lesson about expectations and connection. Plus, the dinner of tomato basil bisque, pepper-cured sirloin, and apple streusel didn’t hurt! After dinner G and I explored the ship a little more, unpacked our incredibly overpacked suitcases and then called it a night. We have been on the go for nearly 24 hours and deserve every moment of sleep we’re about to enjoy.
Tomorrow is the actual day of arrival (Galina arranged us an early arrival, for free!) so the majority of the ship will come aboard throughout the day tomorrow. Our plans are to explore Nassau, find a beach, and just take it easy. Our days in port are absolutely packed and the days at sea are full of workshops, seminars, and craft instruction(!), so we both decided to allow our bodies and minds to relax.
All in all, it was a good day. No, a GREAT day.