As far back as I can remember, travel has been part of my life. Whether it was road trips with family and/or friends or getting on a plane to explore some faraway place, I’ve been fortunate to visit some interesting places. In those travels, I’ve learned about cultures other than my own through the flavours of delicious foods and from warm conversations with people I wouldn’t otherwise have met.
Even though I love travel, not all of it has gone smoothly. I can think of two incidents that involved ships that made me sick to my stomach and fear for my life. Many years ago, I took a weeklong trip to France with one of my English cousins. This was long before the Chunnel (Channel Tunnel) came into being, so we crossed the English Channel on a 90-minute ferry ride to Calais. Other than our day-trip to the Palace of Versailles and the spectacular nighttime view from the top of the Eiffel Tower, our trip was uneventful. At least it was until our return crossing of the Channel.
During the return crossing, we sailed into a storm. At first, we assumed that as long as we were below deck and avoiding getting wet, all would be well. My cousin and I decided to get cups of tea to warm ourselves as the weather continued to worsen. We placed the tray with our cups of tea and a snack on the table where we sat. The sliding of that tray from one side of the table to the next made us aware of how rough the water was becoming; and it only got rougher. Eventually, the ferry was rocking so hard and steeply, that I grabbed my cousin and refused to let him go until the rocking calmed. Thankfully, it finally calmed, but not before my nausea reached a level where I could not control it.
The next time I was on a ship where the sailing was not so smooth, was during a cruise. I was traveling by myself, but I didn’t feel alone because I had assigned seating with a group of people for dinner every evening. In addition, early in the trip, I connected with a few other solo travelers and couples close to my age and most evenings after eating dinner, we chose an activity to do together. One evening while dancing in an onboard nightclub, the floor started to move below our feet. Then one of the women in our group lost her footing and fell to the floor – some members of my grouped teased her for not being able to handle a few drinks.
Shortly after that, a crewmember working in the nightclub started making his way around the room to tell guests they needed to close the club for the evening and that it was best for us all to return to our cabins. Why did they instruct us to end our night early? We were sailing through a huge storm, of course. The storm caused the ship to rock so much that when we looked out the porthole the horizon was wildly bobbing up and down. Seeing the horizon moving then feeling the unsteadiness of the ship under my feet made my stomach so queasy that going to my cabin was probably the best thing for me to do for the rest of that night.
I know my descriptions may not sound like terrible experiences. However, when the vessels meant to carry people safely over large bodies of water feel as if they’re about to capsize with you on them, it’s scary. Even so, I haven’t been put off the idea of traveling by ship in the future. The only question is, when will I be well enough to brave those rough unpredictable waters again…