If there was going to be a day to make or break this trip, today was the day. Today was the focal point, the fulcrum of this whole adventure. Today is the day we get to swim with dolphins. As a Dad that wants to reinforce to my child that dreams are both real and attainable, her love for dolphins months played a large part in deciding to take this cruise. The decision to cruise was made knowing full well that swimming with dolphins is always an option at some of the ports.
The day, fortunately, did not disappoint, if anything is surpassed expectations. We took a quick van ride from the port to the Dolphinarium, once we arrived we were given a briefing and then before we knew it out group of about 12 entered our pool with 2 dolphins. Over the next 40 minutes we petted, kissed, held fins and went for a belly to belly ride. The speed of this ride and the astonishing acceleration taking me completely by surprise. It was truly a dream come true occasion for my daughter, for her parents too. I was particularly proud of my daughter who did all the tasks without assistance, the swimming lessons paid off!
Moments like today make struggling through work worth it, it is the memories of these truly special occasions that you have to cling to when you are at the end of your rope at work wondering if it is all worth it. It is worth it, I might not get to travel months at a time, or do anything on my trips that they would make a tv show about, but they are so worth every second, just to see the smile & hear the squeals of happiness from my daughter.
After our dolphin experience we had lunch (included) at the place before heading back to the ship. They have a long duty free store that you have no choice but to walk through to get onboard. It is almost like friendly piracy, taking your money with a smile, there were some good deals to be had though 🙂
Before we went in to dinner we joined our fellow guests at the frequent cruisers thank you reception. We enjoyed some rather potent free drinks and I finally got over myself and danced with my daughter, on stage no less, with about 50 others. Still, that shows how much recuperation has been done during this week. On the way out we struck up a conversation with Katie from the entertainment staff, I correctly guessed (by her accent) that she was from Halifax, not far from Leeds where I grew up. We talked at length about life onboard and her current struggles with deciding how to get a visa to live in the states with her American boyfriend. She was a very pleasant and most engaging person to talk to. Two things struck me after our conversation, one how much better I am at conversations now than I used to be & two, just how far I have come in the last 12 years since I first made the decision to leave my home town in search of a better life. I really don’t give myself enough credit for what has been accomplished, not that any of it could have done without the gentle guiding hand of the Lord, but you know what I mean.
Following the reception we headed to dinner, requesting the same table as the night before as we had finally found a wait crew that not only brought us some food, but had a bit of personality too. One of the things I’ve enjoyed most about past cruises is getting to know (somewhat) the wait staff, with not having assigned seats & generally overworked wait staff, until yesterday it has not been as good an experience in that sense as on previous trips. However Iavn the Serbian and Jovana the Croatian were a delight and Alona, our Ukrainian drinks waitress was fantastic and so much fun to talk to. It is when talking to these people that you really start to get a feeling for how fortunate we are. Take Alona, I don’t know her life story or her situation at home, but I do know that she is 35 with a teenage daughter who she doesn’t get to see for 7 months at a time. She does this to be able to provide for her daughter the very best way that she can. I cant imagine being away from my family for 7 month stretches, but if that was the best way for me to provide for them I would do it. I really have a tremendous appreciation, admiration and empathy for these dedicated people.
The evening show on day 6 was a comedy hypnotist who was very entertaining. My favorite part being when people were sent to look for their missing belly buttons. He asked one lady what she needed her belly button for & she replied (in her hypnotized state) “to put my finger in it”. That cracked me up and was a great end to another great day of this vacation that is sadly drawing to a close.