Flashing Back to 2013; Sailing from Galveston to Dubai

Galveston to Dubai, 2013

JAN. 19, 2021, DALLAS — Just a year ago my sister Elaine and I set off on our world cruise. As we rounded South America, visited Antarctica and headed west from Chile to Easter Island and eventually New Zealand and Australia, we tracked our journey on an “upside down” map that highlighted the Southern Hemisphere. Little did we know that a coronavirus would soon turn our whole world upside down.

I’ve since filled my pandemic time ashore with a summer sojourn to Santa Fe and otherwise bouncing back and forth between the guest rooms of my two sisters. Anticipating long cruises and other adventures, I had given up my own home a few years ago.

As we bid good riddance to 2020, we’re all hopeful to get a vaccination soon and return to something like normal.

So what’s a girl who longs for a life at sea to blog about? I’ve decided to revisit some of my earlier long cruises.

My first of what have become several “cruises of a lifetime” was in 2011. Mom and I sailed for 45 days aboard Holland America’s MS Maasdam from Florida to Rome and back. Maybe I’ll write about it later.

For now, I hope you will join me virtually as I flash back to a 2013 cruise I booked at the last minute. Royal Caribbean was moving its Mariner of the Seas from a homeport in Galveston, Texas, to Singapore and Shanghai to serve the Asian market. I could book an inside cabin for the first 30 days for under $2,000 – including the single supplement. It was a bargain I couldn’t pass up, even with the expense of flying home from Dubai.

This cruise is noteworthy because it was my first foray into blogging. Before sailing, I quickly set up a blog site with what turned out to be a cumbersome and awkward URL: WoodenShoeSailing.wordpress.com. (The Eugene Field poem “Wynken, Blynken and Nod” was a favorite childhood poem.)

Once underway between Galveston and our first port of Nassau in the Bahamas, I realized I knew nothing about how to post to the blog or include any photos. So I spent my first port day in a bar, nursing cocktails while using free Internet service to download pages of instructions. Posting during the next several days at sea was hit or miss.

My main blog audience was friends and family, and for some reason I thought they would like to read minute details of everything I did each day. It’s no surprise I called those posts “Dear Cruise Diary.” With only four ports in the first 14 days, there were a lot of sea days with not much happening, but I posted daily nonetheless. I think I lost all but a handful of very faithful readers by the time we docked in Barcelona.

I’ll spare you of all those daily details. If you are truly interested, you can go back and read a few sea day entries. Start with Good at Doing Nothing and keep picking the “next post” link at the bottom of the page until you, too, tire of the minutia.

In addition to my journal posts, I wrote some blogs about how to choose a cabin and one on Too Much Time — Too Much to Do. When I wrote in 2013 that, “I could probably sail all the way around the world before I ran out of things to do on sea days,” I had no idea how prescient it would be.

This flashback series will focus on the ports — my experiences exploring them and my memories. I hadn’t yet discovered watercolor in 2013, but I’m going back and creating a sketchbook of the cruise from my photographs. I hope they will add a fresh view of this amazing cruise.