|Photo: Stock Xchng/strakplan (not the ship I was on, but comparable)|
I didn't go away to college right out of high school. I had a TV series, and when that got canceled, I was still living the life of an actor; auditioning, working part-time jobs and being available for the next "yes." So I packed up my studio apartment, left my cat with my parents, and I was off.
It was a phenomenal experience. I was doing what I loved, and getting paid for it. I met people from all over the world, and I got to see some beautiful places.
I loved coming back to the ship from a shore excursion and calling it "home." I loved my cruise ship duty in the Library, where I would read and write phenomenally long letters home to friends and family. (This was before cell phones and international plans were the norm.) Whenever I wasn't loving life, I would simply go out on deck and watch the water meet the ship, and it calmed me.
I learned how to dance in 17 foot waves. I learned how to handle difficult guests without compromising my own sense of self. I learned how to find privacy in a crowd. I went horse-back riding in Puerto Vallarta, spent my 19th birthday in Bermuda, and marveled over the beauty of Alaska's glaciers. I learned how to survive without Mexican food and even came to appreciate Cuban cuisine.
I wish Facebook had been around back then. I've since lost touch with everyone from that time, and I'd love to know what they're doing now.
I loved living the cruise life, but I was also happy to come back home. I was ready to get off the ship and back to reality. Cruise ship life isn't real life, but it makes for some great memories.