Life aboard the beautiful Nautica: a mother's perspective.
After 20 hours of flight, 4 connections and 3 airplane meals, I boarded the Oceania Nautica ship in Singapore and laid eyes on my darling daughter. Wow. There she was in her crisp navy skirt and blazer looking so official and well, so grown up, greeting each guest as they arrived. A long hug and a few tears later, I began my first ever nautical journey.
The Nautica is a luxury cruise ship. Maybe all cruise ships are luxury liners. I wouldn't know because I've never been on one. So yeah, Wow again-it is something else. See, while The Champions have been blessed to do a lot of traveling over the years, the word luxury or luxurious is not in our vocabulary. We aim towards the practical, how can we save a couple bucks mindset when traveling. For example:
When we traveled to the gorgeous Mayan resort in Nuevo Vallarta, we stopped at the nearest Walmart on the way to load up on groceries. See, eating out is a privilege that we only do a couple of times when we are on a trip. So the idea is, eat your stouffer's lasagna, shut your mouth, be thankful and let's get to the beach.
Or, when we went to Washington DC, heaven forbid we miss a single display in the Smithsonian. So, eat your granola bar, we're not stopping until dinner. Shut your mouth, be thankful and let's get a move on-we've got 14 museums to cover.
Or, when we back packed across Europe with our bedding and 3 outfits a piece in our backpacks, it was grab a scone, shut your mouth, be thankful and let's go-we have to climb to the top of the Eiffel Tower today. So you get the picture......luxury shmuxury.
But on the beautiful Nautica, everything is different. EVERYTHING is fancy. When my fellow passengers learn that I am a cruise ship virgin, they look at me in disbelief. "Really? Why this is my 5th Oceania cruise and my 20th cruise in the last 10 years. I've been to blah, blah, blah, blah and blah. I just can't IMAGINE that you've never cruised before"! Well, I know it is a real stretch lady, but it is in fact imagine able if you try real hard.
So, on the cruise ship, I feel a little bit like a queen and not so much like a Champion. My room is cleaned twice a day wether it needs it or not. I am not "Mrs."Champion, I am "Madame" Champion. Because of Suz being on staff, I have received a gift of a bottle of wine sent to my room, received a formal invitation to a special dinner in the grand ball room to eat with the Chief engineer, and had reservations arranged for us to eat at one of the two 5 star restaurants on board complimentary of the general manager. So as you can tell, I am suddenly a very important person.
The crew and staff onboard are quite spectacular. Everyone works seven days a week, no days off. They work for several months at a time, and then get a couple of months off. Then, they start all over again. They are so friendly, pleasant and hard working. Even though it is hard to be away from their families, they are grateful because it is a better job than they could find at home. My housekeeper is away from her 12 yr old daughter. They work to make a better life for their children and families. It is very humbling. They have reminded me that there is dignity and purpose in working hard and doing a good job. They truly love Suzanna. They refer to her as the "bee-u-tee-ful meeees Suzanna" or the "lovely and talented meeees Suzanna"!
The 3 other entertainers are talented and engaging. Suz, Savannah, Chris and Luke make a great team. They care about each other, cover for each other when needed, respect each other and have become good friends. It is a joy to watch them interact with each other and the guests. They have to be "on" all the time, but they do so with grace and gusto. Their camaraderie is an answer to prayer.
As far as my daughter, beyond proud does not even cover it. She has conquered her fears, left her family, boyfriend and friends behind and has ventured across the world to sing, entertain, and serve 684 guests each cruise. I have watched her on stage, once again doing her thing. I have watched her teach needle work and fellowship with ladies like it was an Amish quilters circle. I have watched her run table tennis, indoor golf, bean bag toss, name that tune, karioke, and morning brain teasers. I have watched her organize a luncheon for solo travelers and then host them, visiting with them and ordering wine for the table. I have watched her daily host "tea time". Who knew tea time is THE TIME, for a whole bunch of people? I mean, I'd take coffee over tea any day, and didn't anyone else's mother tell them that they shouldn't snack at that time of the day? It will kill their appetite for dinner! Anyway, I have also watched with great pride as Suzanna learned all the names and information about prominent travelers and then introduced each person/couple to the captain of the ship - "Captain Giulia, you remember Mr and Mrs so and so, from Vancouver? This is their 4th voyage with us". In a few days I will have the privilege of singing "I dreamed a dream" with her at her show. The thing is, my dream has already come true.....after all, I'm with my girl in a part of the world I never expected to visit.
My cruise is named "Palaces and Pagodas", but tonight, I will fall peacefully asleep to the rocking of a moving ship, next to my sweet daughter, on my own floating palace-the beautiful Nautica.