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Tamie Ross watches the sunrise on a recent Caribbean cruise with her family.
Inside Story
Photo by Bobby Ross Jr.

Bon voyage: Lessons learned on a cruise

For vacationer, first time on a ship provides important reminders.

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COZUMEL, Mexico God’s creation is amazing and even breathtaking.

That’s true all the time.

But sometimes I need reminding.

My wife, Tamie, and I recently joined our son Brady, daughter-in-law Mary and grandchildren Bennett, 4, and Norah, 1, on a Caribbean cruise.

Ross family on the cruise.

The Rosses pose for a picture on the Grandeur of the Seas cruise ship.

In my 55 years, I’ve helicoptered across Israel, ridden a train through Europe and driven past “Moose Crossing” signs — and even stopped to snap a photo of an actual moose — in Alaska. As a kid, I enjoyed donning an orange life jacket and fishing from my grandfather’s motorboat on the Mississippi River.

But the closest I ever came to a ship was watching reruns of “Love Boat,” the popular TV series that aired from 1977 to 1987.

We boarded the Grandeur of the Seas — owned and operated by Royal Caribbean International — in Galveston, Texas. The first thing that struck me was just how big the ship was. It’s 916 feet long with 11 decks and room for 2,446 passengers, according to an online profile.

For any experts reading this, I realize (thanks to my wife) that Grandeur, built in 1986, is actually Royal Caribbean’s smallest vessel and its oldest still sailing. Nonetheless, it sure impressed me!

The cruise experience itself provided a few important reminders:

Embrace the beauty of everyday life: Every morning, Tamie and I got up before sunrise and took an elevator to an upper deck.

The view as the Grandeur of the Seas cruise ship nears a Mexican port at sunrise.

The view as the Grandeur of the Seas cruise ship nears a Mexican port at sunrise.

As the wind blew our hair, we stood in awe, surrounded by water as far as we could see.

We watched as the darkness in the distance turned to a beautiful horizon of orange, yellow and purple. The morning rays slowly revealed a blue sky and patches of white and gray clouds.

The sun rises and sets even when I’m on dry land. I need to stop and marvel at God’s creation more often.  

Show love and kindness to others: I know the ship crew members depend on tips, so treating passengers well is crucial to their livelihood.

Still, I wonder what might happen if we Christians worked as hard to connect with strangers as our cabin steward and waiters did.

Verda, the crew member who stood at the door to the dining room where we ate lunch the first day, greeted us with a smile and cheerfully asked our names. The next day — after interacting with hundreds of other passengers — she remembered our first names. No, we were not wearing name tags.

Bobby and Tamie Ross with granddaughter Norah on the Caribbean cruise.

Bobby and Tamie Ross with granddaughter Norah on the Caribbean cruise.

Remember to be present — really present — with loved ones: After leaving the harbor in Galveston, the ship had no cell phone service. Passengers could buy access to WiFi, but the price was exorbitant (full disclosure: I paid it). Even then, the signal was spotty (meaning I had no choice but to unplug most of the time).

The lack of online connections meant families such as ours actually paid attention to each other when we gathered for meals. Without constant techno-distractions, we talked and laughed without interruptions (except for the waiter bringing dessert, and we welcomed that).

The final morning, the ship arrived back at the harbor for deboarding. I couldn’t help but notice the difference at breakfast. With 5G service returned, the normal chatter gave way to tables full of silent people holding forks in one hand and smartphones in the other. Everyone’s head seemed to be pointed down at a screen.

That change did not seem like an improvement.

Take time to rest: We live in a world that tends to go, go, go and never slow down. But Jesus taught us the importance of rest. 

In fact, I seem to recall our Lord and Savior taking a nap on a boat (see Mark 4). So, it appears, going on a cruise is biblical.

In fact, I seem to recall our Lord and Savior taking a nap on a boat. So, it appears, going on a cruise is biblical. 

Seriously, we lounged by the ship pool and enjoyed relaxing excursions to two Mexican tourist spots. We took advantage of all-you-can-eat soft-serve cones and enjoyed listening to live music. 

We returned home refreshed and rejuvenated and more mindful than ever of God’s amazing and even breathtaking creation.

BOBBY ROSS JR. is Editor-in-Chief of The Christian Chronicle. Reach him at [email protected].

Filed under: advice Brady Ross cruise Inside Story leisure Mary Ross Mexico Opinion Rosses Tamie Ross Texas Top Stories travel

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