I’m Cursing Myself for Loving Cruising

Holland America MS Oosterdam
The MS Oosterdam, from the Holland America cruise line. Photo by Charish Badzinski.

BackpackMr and I recently shed our budget traveler ways to give a cruise a try. We weren’t sure whether we would like it.

dinner aboard the MS Oosterdam at the Pinnacle restaurant
Dinner at The Pinnacle, on our last night aboard the MS Oosterdam. Oh, we were spoiled rotten.

Spoiler alert: we did.

I have a complicated relationship with luxury travel. So I kind of hate myself for loving cruising.

cruising? Loved it
I’m cursing myself for loving cruising. But the heart wants what it wants. Photo by BackpackMr.

I believe luxury travel is sterilized travel. It creates distance between you and the culture you’re trying to experience. It presents to you, on a proverbial silver travel platter, a version of a country that locals think you want. And luxury travel ferrets away what they don’t want you to see.

In short, luxury travel is rarely, if ever, the kind of immersive, transformational travel we advocate here at Rollerbag Goddess Global Communications.

It will not change you.

It will not help you grow as a person.

It will not afford you any epiphanies.

It will not help you challenge your limiting beliefs or paradigms.

That said, it may be just what you need.

In a world where we’re expected to work 60-80 hours a week, shuttle children around to endless activities, produce nourishing food for meals, maintain an immaculate house, wait an hour per medical appointment, engage online, grow our professional skills, network, lean in, advocate, stay informed and actively participate in our political system, workout, build our brand, have a spiritual practice, Kegel, maintain youthful skin and our vehicles, volunteer, exfoliate, buy and upkeep a house, pull weeds on our lawn, cover our grays, get a pap and a colonoscopy and floss regularly…..well….

It can be a huge relief to know you simply write a check and someone else plans your vacation for you, from start to finish. And if things go wrong, they’ll take care of that for you too.

After all, you only get a week or two per year. Why leave it to chance?

BackpackMr aboard the MS Oosterdam
What a view! And the ocean ain’t bad either. Photo by Charish Badzinski.

I get it. It’s understandable. Hard travel is one more thing to add to the list. Hard travel breaks you, so you can remake yourself like kintsugi.

That’s a lot of work on oneself.

And with all the demands and expectations placed upon us, sometimes we don’t want to be broken, yet again. Particularly not when we’re taking a break.

We just desperately want someone else to take care of us.

Neptune Suite on the MS Oosterdam
We got a Neptune Suite for our cruise on Holland America’s MS Oosterdam. It was swank and spacious. Photo by Charish Badzinski.
Neptune Suite sitting area MS Oosterdam
Our suite included a sitting area with a huge couch aboard the MS Oosterdam on our Holland America cruise. Photo by Charish Badzinski.

A cruise is exactly that. You don’t need to really plan anything, or worry about anything other than what to pack.

Sure, you can scroll through shore excursions and watch YouTube videos of the buffet lines.

You won’t need any guidebooks for your port destinations, as you’ll be shuttled to the posh, pricey, well-manicured places.

You won’t even have to learn another language, because all of the staff conveniently speak English for you.

sunset glow on the MS Oosterdam
The sunset glow aboard the MS Oosterdam, Holland America cruise line. Photo by Charish Badzinski.

You won’t be challenged, because the four blissful hours you spend in Jamaica doesn’t give you enough time to think.

But it’s just enough time to take in the view, drink a few “Bob Marley” cocktails and try some jerk chicken.

Jamaica Bob Marley cocktail
A “Bob Marley” cocktail in Jamaica. Photo by Charish Badzinski.

And two Bob Marleys in you may believe the bartender really is into you, not just flirting for tips.

Jamaica bartender flirting
He’s flirting! He likes me! He really likes me!

Or is he?????

bartender not flirting Jamaica
Wait a minute…who’s that hussy?

You will be coddled into a near-coma.

warming lounges in the spa
Warming lounge chairs in the spa aboard the MS Oosterdam, on Holland America cruise line. Photo by Charish Badzinski.

You will be fed.

sushi in the Neptune lounge
Sushi and other snacks were always available in the Neptune Lounge, aboard the MS Oosterdam. The lounge is only available for those with Neptune Suites. They welcomed us with champagne our first night. Photo by Charish Badzinski.

And fed.

10 ounce tenderloin in the Pinnacle restaurant
The luscious 10 ounce tenderloin at The Pinnacle restaurant, on board the MS Oosterdam. Photo by Charish Badzinski.

And fed (with your dietary needs carefully adhered to).

breakfast on the balcony
Breakfast on our balcony. Mimosas were complimentary for Neptune Lounge guests. Steak and eggs were the order of the day, with a view of the ocean. Photo by Charish Badzinski.

And massaged with fragrant oils at the spa.

A Pina colada will always make sense.

Pina Colada
If you like pina coladas….and getting caught on a cruise…I’m the one that you’ve looked for….come with me and escape. Photo by Charish Badzinski.

And the rolling sea will rock you gently as you doze on high thread count sheets.

the view from our Neptune suite
The view from the amazing balcony for our Neptune Suite. Unforgettable. Photo by BackpackMr.

I loved cruising.

It took me to places in the world I’d never been. Like the Bahamas. And Jamaica.

The Bahamas and MS Oosterdam
The Bahamas. A first time visit for us. Our cruise ship, the MS Oosterdam, is in the background. This was Holland America’s private beach, so of course, it was perfect. Photo by Charish Badzinski.
Jamaica, also a first-time visit for us. Photo by Charish Badzinski.

And it took me back to places I’ve loved, like Cozumel.

sunset over the MS Oosterdam
Sunset over the MS Oosterdam, taken from the island of Cozumel. Photo by Charish Badzinski.
a return to Cozumel
After 17 years, we returned to the island of Cozumel. We had a full day there during our cruise aboard Holland America’s MS Oosterdam. Here we are at Mezcalito’s.

It showed me that yes, I am worthy of being spoiled once in a while.

the view on the MS Oosterdam
Sunset on the MS Oosterdam, from the Holland America cruise line. Photo by Charish Badzinski.

And when my complex, internal ethics monologue interrupted the experience and made me start to think about underlying issues…like, the wastefulness…the eco-issues…the sense of entitlement from some passengers…the staff who leave their families behind for nine months at a time to live in a bunk bed in the ship’s bowels just to make a living…well, it was easy to go back to our plush stateroom with the massive balcony, and gaze out to sea and just let it be.

photographers aboard the MS Oosterdam
Photographers having some fun, aboard the MS Oosterdam. Crew members were so awesome, without exception. They leave their families behind for a nine month contract aboard the ship. Photo by Charish Badzinski.
Mary Magdalena aboard the MS Oosterdam
Mary Magdalena was our concierge in the Neptune Lounge. She was truly amazing. Photo by BackpackMr.
Serving drinks as the ship sails
Every staff member was extraordinarily friendly and kind and helpful. I can’t say enough about the service on Holland America. Photo by Charish Badzinski.

We did it right: got the upgrades, did the spa appointments, booked the nice restaurants with the upcharge, tipped our people well. We did it because we figured we’d only do it once. It was, easily, our most expensive and luxurious travel experience, ever.

I have a complicated relationship with luxury travel.

And I’m cursing myself for loving cruising.

But I’ll have to quiet my incessant, internal ethics monologue once again.

You see, my sweet mother, RollerbagMom, has spent her whole life taking care of other people. And BackpackMr and I decided it would be cool if she could be coddled, just once. It’s something she would never do alone, and would never do for herself.

So we’re taking her.

A recent and rare photo of RollerbagMom and all of her highly intelligent and attractive children. I was just out of surgery which is why I look like I’m just out of surgery. Glad to get the photo, though.

All aboard.


Photo on 7-16-19 at 2.39 PM

Charish Badzinski is an explorer and award-winning features, food and travel writer. When she isn’t working to build her blog, she applies her worldview to her business, Rollerbag Goddess Global Communications, providing powerful storytelling to her clients.

Posts on the Rollerbag Goddess travel blog are never sponsored and have no affiliate links, so you know you will get an honest review, every time.

Find Charish on Twitter: @rollrbaggoddess, on Facebook at @rollrbaggoddess, and on Instagram at @rollerbaggoddess. You can also read more about Charish Badzinski’s professional experience in marketing, public relations and writing.


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