Adventures in Solitude: Sailing Away, Solo, Part 1

Podcast Cruise 5.0 Door Magnet

During the Adventures by Disney Backstage Magic farewell dinner at Carthay Circle, Kevin said to me “You should come on Podcast Cruise 5.0”, and I thought “Yeah, I probably should”. I’d long been thinking about going on a cruise, but had thought of doing a shorter cruise for my first. Being very susceptible to motion sickness, I was worried about committing to anything more than a few days. Many people in the know assured me that sea sickness was a rarity these days due to the design and technology of cruise ships. And they were correct: sea sickness turned out to be the least of my worries. I experienced a number of incidences, and learned from them.

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Balancing the Magic on my head

Lesson 1: Hold Your Tongue
My first hurdle was getting to Florida. I’ve been on many Disney vacations, and I’ve never had any hassle with Customs and Immigration (I’m Canadian) until this time. It wasn’t until the agent summarized my answers to his questions that I began to sense trouble: “So you’re a single male, without kids, going on a Disney cruise”. Knowing that he was making a common erroneous assumption—that Disney vacations are for kids and families—I had to quickly decide: elucidate or conciliate. Instead of explaining to him how wrong he was, I just followed him to the room off to the side, where he went through my luggage, admired my packing cubes, and decided I was harmless. Staying silent paid off. I also learned that my folly can be other people’s delight. My friend Chandra, who loved this story, retold it to many people on PCC 5.0. I was introduced more than a few times as “This is the guy…”

Lesson 2: Pills and Pillows
The flight from YVR to ORD was okay. It would have been better if I hadn’t mixed up Gravol with Robaxacet. My back and neck felt great while I was heaving violently in the ORD airport. I barely made it to the toilet. I dropped my glasses, and just about dropped my therapeutic pillow on the floor. In my bleary, messy haze, I was cursing myself for bringing it along. Later, I was glad that I’d brought it. But at that time, when I had to keep it off the floor while I was puking, I hated the damn thing. This is one of the downfalls of solo travel: you’ve got nobody else to rely on, or to blame, if something goes wrong.

The plan for this vacation was the most elaborate I’d ever planned for myself. Two pre-cruise nights at Pop, take the DIS shuttle to the port for the 7-night cruise, then drive myself from the port to Cabana Bay for a few nights, then take a shuttle to Port Orleans French Quarter for 5 nights. I planned it this way so I could take Magical Express both from and to the airport. With so many legs and modes of transportation, there were many opportunities for something to go wrong. Luckily, nothing major happened except that I got a little lost driving from the port to Cabana Bay. And I might not have been as cheery with the bus folks when they greeted me with a hearty “Good morning, Robert”. Apologies to you all.

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Reflecting on Cruising

Lesson 3: Don’t Panic, and Read the Damn Literature
During the bus ride, I panicked because I (finally) read the literature from Disney Cruise Line, and realized that I hadn’t printed and filled out some of the documentation. Two nice ladies on the bus, who happened to be travel agents, assured me that I would be okay. I was worried that DCL wouldn’t let me on the ship. All that happened was that I got asked a few more questions, taking a few more minutes. By the way, so far, the only downside of being a solo cruiser during the pre-embarkation period was that I didn’t know where to stand in the sea of folks waiting to board. I tried to stand off to the side, but always seemed to be in someone’s way or lurking in the background of a family’s photo op. And I had vowed to myself to not be the awkward background lurker this time!

End of Part 1:
So much happened on PCC 5.0, that it’s necessary to divide this article into two. In the next installment, we’ll learn when to use an alias, what excursions to choose, and how to get the best photos.

Find Part 2 here.

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