My wife and I returned last evening from a trip we planned a while ago. Those of you who follow The Disconnected Traveler know that we love to go off the beaten path, and rarely take vacations with “tourists.”
In all the years I have gone out of my way to seek adventure, I frequently encountered some degree of danger, but never disaster. This time, being undecided about our destination, we took a cruise to get away and relax.
Life has no rule book. We set out to visit five Caribbean Islands to get some sun, meet new friends, and spend some time together. Challenging the rapids in the Colorado River might have been less demanding. Much of the trip was very pleasant, because we made it so. I have written about it on The DisconnectedTraveler this week. However, we did face an emotional challenge.
After a terrific day in the Virgin Islands, a fantastic dinner, lots of fun, and the company of new friends, a 42 year-old man who had just won a Magic Show contest in one of the ship’s lounges fell overboard and lost his life. We spent the next two days in an unsuccessful search and rescue effort and had to discontinue our last port of call.
My wife had a very difficult time with the tragic event. It naturally put a damper on everyone’s mood, but she was hit exceptionally hard.
A couple of things really did get to me as well. While the Captain and the crew handled the event with a great deal of professionalism, some of the passengers did not. Their focus was on purchasing items at the ship’s jewelry sale and fighting for position at the earring table during the Captain’s instructions about dealing with the search operations. Many complaints centered on the absence of any monetary refund for missing a port of call while the search for the man was still underway. I thought volunteering to assist the crew in any way possible was a better approach, but I guess it takes all kinds of people to make a world. One passenger joked to a gathering of laughing fools that the “magician must have been really good since he made the man disappear.”
Life really does not have rules, and tragedies like this must be accepted. I think there is, however, a certain protocol to dealing with disaster that differentiates a person’s class. In my world, the ability to afford cruise fare does not translate to good breeding.