I have learned a thing this month, and that thing is never ever ever go back to work for 3 days after a long weekend of racing and then leave again for a week.

Was worth it though!

I was exhausted and mostly ate, slept, and worked all the hours from the time I returned on Tuesday until 5 minutes before we had to leave on Sunday morning. However, I finished everything I absolutely had to, and closed my office door knowing I gave it my all and headed out on vacation with a lighter conscience, so, worth it, I guess.

This was the Liberty of the Sea’s first official trip out (except for a test cruise the month before) since March 2020, so we were able to enjoy lots of onboard credit and a very refreshed and excited crew at the mere cost of some minor hiccups like the phones not working for the first day or two and dinner reservations being difficult to maneuver in their new system. I expected to be kinda skeeved out by the mass of humanity, but it wasn’t too bad for a few reasons.

Masks everywhere. I was happy about it.

#1. Masks were required almost everywhere and they legit hunted you down to remind you if you forgot.

#2 We had a balcony room, which we have resolved to never ever go without again, so we were able to get some fresh air and relax outside without being around other people.

#3 They were at about 1/3 capacity so it wasn’t the crush of humanity I was expecting.

Might have skipped diving but still got to hang out with fishies.

The ship stopped in Cozumel, Costa Maya, and Roatan. We uncharacteristically skipped diving altogether, and just went snorkeling in Cozumel and Roatan, and enjoyed an even less crowded ship on the Costa Maya port day and hung out at the pool. We didn’t want to lug all the gear, and didn’t want to do the boat dive with newbies on the ship thing everywhere, and since we just dove Cozumel months before, we decided it could saved for the next trip. I forgot how much WORK snorkeling is compared to diving. All the kicking and diving down to get pictures was worth it, but definitely tuckered me out after a few hours of it!

I could not sail by Roatan and Cozumel without visiting a beach.

Except for those two port days, we kinda got into a pleasant vacation routine. Having natural light in the room meant I woke up pretty close to sunrise. I’d snap a few pictures on the balcony, a few mornings we got breakfast or coffee delivered and I’d enjoy the morning fresh air and sun. If not, I’d crawl back into bed and read and nap a bit before we set out for a bite to eat.

After that, we’d leisurely hit the gym. I have officially sworn off running on the ship because it’s super easy to tweak something with a rocking boat, but I was super happy to play with the elliptical (running lite) and lift weights every other day. Every session ended with a super long stretch. It sounds weird to say how novel it was to hit the gym for an hour + most days, but it truly was. No dragging myself out of bed, complaining because it’s either a workout or some actual rare monofocus time before the day really gets going, and finishing when I actually feel like it vs when I have to pry myself away 5 seconds before the next thing in the day starts. Just… doing stuff. When I wanna do stuff. For as long as I wanna do it. Bliss.

Lobster and shrimp on the buffet (and they were goooood).

Then, we’d meet my parents for lunch after the daily sweat session. The Windjammer served your typical cruise buffet faire, though they had this killer sandwich station that I frequented more often than anything else, and a killer Indian food section Joel and my mom loved. One difference from usualy – the desserts were actually pretty top notch. I typically pass and save my sweets for one dessert a day for dinner but I indulged. I legit ate too much this trip. I’m happy I didn’t gain a bunch of weight (probably due to the workouts, all the walking, and epic snorkeling trips) but I certainly didn’t lose any.

When life hands you the opportunity to eat a red velvet donut you eat it.

In the afternoons, we’d play some cards with the parents, sometimes we’d hit the the pool, and occasionally we’d read and nap, or on good days, we’d make time for all three. As the sun set, we’d often have a glass/bottle (hey, it’s vacation) of wine on the balcony and read before we had to get ready for dinner. If I’ve mentioned reading a lot, I finished four books on this trip. Vacation is for voracious reading.

We have been on this ship and had this particular week of dinner menu items before and it’s always a good gustatory experience with lobster night and lots of seafood and other interesting dishes to try. This time though, since we were there on the week of our anniversary, the fam splurged on us and we all went to the steakhouse, Chops, for fancy dinner night. The pretzel bread, greuyere tater tots and delicious cheesecake were carbtastic highlights of the meal. Oh, and the filet mignon was pretty great too. I’ve had better but only on our grill in recent memory, so they did just fine with their signature dish. We found out that the same menu is available at lunch for half the price, so we may try that next time.

The balcony was well enjoyed. So was the wine bar.

I’m not sure if it was our dinnertime was pretty late (7:30) or that we crashed into this vacation super exhausted already or that we’re getting old, but dinner usually ended the day’s adventures outside of the room – pajamas were quickly donned and we either read books on the balcony or curled up in bed. Occasionally there was more wine on said balcony. Occasionally we just drifted off to sleep on full bellies, anticipating another glorious balcony sunrise. Once, I had to dig out the earplugs, but they solved the problem. 🙂

Once, however, we made it to the ice show. Weirdly, the 45 minute spectacle triggered a few deep thoughts (okay, at least slightly more profound than “what should I have for lunch?”) and one of them was whilst watching the cast on their first show back in a year and a half – they fell. A lot. But they looked damn happy to be back out there performing and we were happy to be watching them. No one cared. It was cool to watch a human do exciting things live and we all clapped and smiled and enjoyed ourselves and no one complained except maybe my parents and it’s simply because their happy place is to find all the things that are wrong and talk about them on cruises!

I may not be the same person I was before the pandemic – I am a bit softer (mentally and physically), and I’m out of practice spinning ALL THE PLATES and it’s much harder to hide my failures under a veneer of perfectionism right now. It’s okay. The cast wasn’t the same either. Maybe no one is the same. Maybe it’s okay to have utterly failed at returning my body to it’s early 2020 form just yet and maybe I can forgive myself for losing my words by late afternoon meetings after I’ve been in them all day back to back to back to back and not having the witty retort right on my lips at all times isn’t the highest sin and failure. Maybe it’s okay to fall down in public with everyone watching me as long as it’s with style and I get up and smile, give a cheeky bow, and continue on with life.

I’ve been feeling a touch of the imposter syndrome lately. This year, I’ve taken on some new duties in the position to which I was promoted – though this was just a slight evolution of what I was doing already, just in a more official capacity. Then, I took on more things because of the position which I aspire to next and no one was doing them and I just can’t see something undone and not solve the problem. And then, there’s yet more positions I still need to fill, that I’m subbing in for until I can find the right human. I’m doing none of this at the full capacity in which I could if I could just focus on one thing, even for a week, maybe even for a day. I’ve joked that work right now feels at best like I’m failing lightly at a lot of things, but it causes my inner perfectionist (that jerk) to trigger the thoughts like “well, you’re not nearly as good at this as the previous person who did it” and that just feels bad, man.

About day three, after my brain defragged a bit, I realized that’s nonsense. I may not be as good as the four other humans that were doing the jobs I am doing now in each moment, but I’m what they’ve got, and I’ll do the best I can until I can find someone better to do it.

Relax brain, relax.

A little time away from the daily crush of OMG all the things reminded me that all the things I was putting off “until all this Covid crap is over” are probably more overdue than I want to admit. Going into vacation, I lamented that I hadn’t had a real haircut since Nov 2019 (Joel kindly removed about 6 inches of split ends about a year ago but that was it) and I didn’t really have time to do anything about it. I stopped using the 25$ shampoo once I stopped leaving the house and figured I’d get back to giving a crap and that was cute and fine if it was a few weeks or months, but after years, it’s not a reprieve, it’s just what I look like, and there’s a reason I don’t take a lot of non-doctored selfie angle pictures lately – I don’t like it.

My husband, hero, and ignorer of my BS, booked me a haircut on the ship the first full day. I’ve come to realize lately that I am in the fortunate situation where I have more money than time, so I ignored my inner cheap skate whining about the cost and also my inner tomboy whining about spending time in a salon vs almost any other fun activity that would ruin my hair instead of make it pretty and just went with it. When it came time, I sat down in the chair and he actually even upsold me on doing color too. I picked something kinda close to my natural, just a little darker and redder, and he spent two hours taking my hair from the absolute rats nest it had become to this…

I legit searched for a before, but I think I’ve had my hair in a ponytail since 2020.

Since then, I realized that life is too short to feel bad about yourself in ways that you can absolutely control, so I’m back on the 25$ shampoo. Even if I’m in headphones all day. I need to take baby steps back to normal human life again, and that includes being confident and happy in my meatbag.

All in all, the week away was super nice, though we both lamented we could use another week (maybe with a little less eating and a little more sleeping) because there was no rest for the weary. The moment I returned home on Sunday, I had a Bloodbowl league match scheduled and then I had to work for about four hours prepping for a presentation the next day, and life has been pretty much the normal chaos ever since, which is why I have been attempting to pen this recap for about two weeks during stolen moments of quietude.

Yep. Could use a little more of this.

I fully did not expect to enjoy this vacation as much as I did, so much so that we’re actually looking at taking another cruise in January, just us. It’s exactly what we need right now. There are a few days we can go adventure in port, but not being in those locations for longer means I won’t feel pressure to MAKE THE MOST OF EVERY DAY like when we go to a dive resort. On sea days, sign me up for a balcony, a book, all the room service I can order, and quiet days with no obligations.