I Spent Halloween at Sea ... and Got Caught in a Storm
What a trip!
In my last post, I told you I would return to Atlanta for a family reunion. I flew in from California, while the rest of the family came from Jamaica. We all met up at our home in Atlanta. I worked the first week. Then, the coming weekend, we drove from Atlanta to Jacksonville. You might recognize my blue-haired grandma from my Arizona camping video.
It’s risky business driving down from another state on the morning you should board a cruise ship. But my parents and I have done this before. Here’s an old video of the first cruise we took together.
We arrived with hours to spare and boarded Carnival Elation. My mom had been planning this trip since 2019. COVID-19 tanked her plans in 2020, but she would not be deterred. She bookmarked our cruise in May 2022 and booked all our tickets in early February 2023.
Here’s who made the trip:
Marla (mom’s little sister)
Ven (her husband)
Lee (their son; my “nephew”)
We spent Halloween aboard Carnival Elation.
We don’t celebrate Halloween in Jamaica. Nowadays, it’s a party theme for the adults, and some expats trick-or-treat within their neighborhoods, but that’s about it. I grew up with Halloween being something I only saw on TV.
I was never big on Christmas. But, for some reason, Mom and I really took to Halloween when I finally immigrated to America in 2015. Dad would roll his eyes and sit like a Halloween Grinch on the sofa while Mom and I excitedly handed out candies in our costumes.
We were ecstatic to spend Halloween at sea. Yet, somehow, it was Dad who stole the show in his James Brown outfit. People stopped to take pictures everywhere we went. Women stared…a lot!
Carnival really decked out the ship for the event. Even the dessert was Halloween-themed.
We participated in a parent-child dance with Lee. He wasn’t keen on going up on stage, so Mom and I accompanied Marla while he flitted on and off at will. The judge was impressed with our teamwork and persistence. She gave us the trophy!
After a fun Halloween Night at sea, we were excited to dock in the Bahamas.
My parents have visited before, and Dad likes to remind us that he was “conceived” in the Bahamas. But this was the first time for the rest of us. The Bahamas was beautiful, but I was disappointed with the snorkeling. I didn’t see a single fish.
Being on the island wasn’t the only fun part. One of the most amazing experiences is when you have multiple ships docked together at a port, and then one or more of us start to leave. People come out on the balconies and cheer and wave to each other.
Carnival Legend left first, and then we followed. The three cruise ships left behind were a Scandinavian Cruise and two Royal Caribbean ships.
Little did we know, they were the lucky ones.
Our Captain had already been sailing the ship like a madman at top speed, but it got a lot worse that night. By morning, we were rocking and rolling at sea. The Captain came on the intercom at around 8 AM to announce that we would not be docking at the next Bahamas location due to “inclement weather.”
That weather persisted until we returned to Jacksonville days later. I can only describe it as violent but not terrifying. We got used to walking side to side in the hallways and balancing dishes while we struggled to keep our footing in the buffet area. Dishes fell off the racks and clattered on the floor. People fell in hallways. I fell out of the bathroom just after getting one foot through the door of the room. The water in the pools and the hot tubs sloshed from side to side, and people swam in them anyway.
What else could we do?
Dad and I were so determined that we still went to the gym that day. In the grey, gloomy distance, we could see poor Carnival Legend suffering the same stormy fate.
We learned quickly that it felt worse in the rooms and spent most of the rocky times on the deck and at events: from hot-tubbing to attending comedy shows and even a silent party.
We had a great time despite the storm and would travel aboard another Carnival ship. But next time, we’re definitely bringing meds for seasickness, bumps, and bruises. No matter how used to cruising and sailing you are, that belly-dropping feeling of the ship plunging into the ocean over a wave and coming back up is not for the faint of heart…or tummy.
Tomorrow, paid subscribers will receive my advice for enjoying cruises — even ones that get stuck in storms, like ours. Then, on Wednesday, I’ll share the worst of my travel woes. American Airlines left me stranded in Texas on the way back from Atlanta!
Alexis Chateau | Free Ramen is a reader-supported publication. To receive new posts and support my work, consider becoming a free or paid subscriber.