I really don’t like cruises.
Half of you have dropped your jaw and crossed me off your Christmas card list. I know, I know I sound like a first world spoiled brat, especially when you realize that my parents just footed the bill for the Carnival Cruise I just returned from.
See, I don’t like cruises cause I’d rather get to where I’m going quickly and do some stuff. I’d rather not get seasick, or stuff myself to the point of gluttony at every meal, or get hustled to buy liquor, expensive spa treatments, bingo cards and overpriced photos every time I lift my nervous eyes to the circling sales staff. I’d rather not hear naughty children crying or mysterious scraping boat sounds overhead in the early morning hours. I’d rather be able to find my dad with a quick phone call instead of searching up and down the decks for two hours before having to leave a note on the FunShip announcement page with my eyeliner.
Also, I nearly died trying to work out. I left some of my shin meat on the treadmill and I had to rugby tackle my weights as they threatened to roll into a giant orc lifting to the left of me. Close call, Carnival. I recommend moving the medics nearer to the gym.
Anyway, I could go on for pages about this but there were definitely parts I LOVED about the cruise. The time spent with my family and the days in port and on excursions made for a memorable vacation.
One thing I really enjoyed is the challenge of practicing your faith in a new situation. Sometimes I felt awkward or annoyed at my surroundings, but over the course of the trip, I discovered 4 ways to be a Christian on a cruise ship.
Here they are:
1. Put away your judgy eyes. While it’s true that people should not eat full pans of bacon and that cruise guests throw away more food per day than some small countries consume and that some drunk people do try to take off their pants outside the karaoke lounge, we are not going to get anywhere with attitudes of judgment. Realize that folks may not have the benefit of education and awareness, or they may be drinking off a terrible life tragedy. Try to get to know people, and pray that the Lord will give you divine appointments to talk about how His ways were meant to benefit His people–“that it may go well” with them (Deut. 4:40).
2. Practice gratefulness. The ship’s staff work long and hard to provide you with the best service–especially the cleaning and dining crew. Those people are incredible how they remember everyone’s names. I’m guessing they don’t always get treated so well, so I try to up the appreciation factor by expressing how glad I am that they are working. This cruise, my sister-in-law was so thoughtful and brought the captain a gift. It made His day. Another idea is to bring stationery and write encouraging notes and verses for those who are likely under-appreciated.
3. Double-duty your excursion days. There is no rule that says you have to go prodigal and blow your inheritance in Cozumel. Why not serve for a day in one or more of your ports? Call the administration of your denomination and see if you can get in touch with any local congregations. I made some new friends in Isla Roatan, Honduras this trip and got to speak at their local high school. In addition, the Principal drove me and my parents around a bit and we saw some historical church buildings including the oldest church on the island. I even got three mangos!
Also, if you enjoy excursions, look for ways to prod people’s consciences about creation and use object lessons. Agree with everything you can instead of looking for arguments as some “witnesses do”. Opportunities abound! For example, when climbing up the temple of Altun Ha, my dad and I were able to talk to the couple with us about gods that demand sacrifice vs. a God who provides Himself as one.
In Rio Secreto when talking about the thousands and millions of years of stalactite formation, I was able to ask the group if they had heard of rapidly forming columns. (I try to ask things when I can, if I have a differing opinion, I don’t want to think or act like I know everything.)
4. Bring literature. There are so many opportunities to share a tract or a story with those you run into . Children’s stories seem especially welcome. Whether you hand them out in person, or share them in the ship’s library, just pray that God will guide curious minds to them.
*Also, if you’re A Sabbath-keeper like I am and you’re on a 7-day cruise, you may have some extra challenges/ witnessing opportunities. Have worship with your group, play music, read your Bible and look for people who might like someone to listen.
Please, let me know if you have any other ideas for how to represent Christ while on a cruise ship!