Taking a Cruise Is No Longer an Item on My Bucket List

Editor’s note: With summer just around the corner, it is time to think about your vacation dreams and plans. Amy Bovaird had a dream of going on a cruise, one that she got to fulfill a few weeks ago. Find out about her experiences.

Wanting to Travel Again

cruise ship docked

One of my bucket list goals for this year was to travel again. My life of teaching English overseas had kept me traveling globally for half my life. The death of my father brought me back home and they stopped abruptly. I longed to travel internationally again. Out of the blue, my high school friend phoned me and said, “I know this is going to sound strange but my husband and I would like to take you to the Bahamas on a cruise. We’re going with some friends. Now is the time to go before you lose all your vision. And we will pay for everything aside from your personal shopping expenses. Please say you’ll accept our gift.” I was so blown away! This came in January.

Cruising for the First Time

I had to arrange for friends and family members to cook and look in on my mother each day and make sure she was comfortable with the idea. As my departure date grew closer, she became more anxious about being left alone. But with everyone’s promised help, it worked out. So for the first time in ten years, I dared to live out my dream! I had never traveled by cruise ship before so it was an opportunity for a new adventure.

Using White Cane and Overly Helpful Friends

It was my first time to travel since I learned to use a white cane and I wasn’t sure what to expect. My friends were so helpful—a little too much so—and though I tried to tell them I could find my way around the ship independently, at least when there was light, they clearly did not feel comfortable when I ventured out on my own. The second day into our cruise a woman had fallen aboard another cruise ship and our group became even more solicitous. My friends guided me everywhere I went—they flanked me, one in the front and one in the back. “A little to the right, a little more, straighten ‘er out, there you go! Good job!” It made me giggle because it was as if I were learning to drive and my cane was a stick shift on a manual car.

One time, however, my friend forgot to instruct me on a change of plan and said, “Come on!” A few steps into our walk, I exclaimed, “Oh! We’re on the steps and not the elevator!” as I tried to avoid falling down a few of the carpeted steps. Thank God my cane caught it when it did. I’m sure a frank discussion ahead of time of what I was capable of and what I needed would have been helpful because none of the group I had been traveling with had ever been around a vision impaired person let alone travel with one in such close quarters.

Wonderful Food and Warm Weather

But aside from that, the seven-day cruise was wonderful! I so enjoyed sampling the international cuisine on the ship. In the mornings, I established a pattern of walking around the fifth deck with my friend’s husband. I folded up my cane and led the way as the deck was smooth and not crowded at that time of morning. The brisk exhilarated me! The high point came when we reached the Bahamas. My friend, an experienced kayaker, and I took a glass water kayak in the ocean. I felt the hot tropical sun warm my shoulders and marveled.

Vision Loss Not a Barrier to Traveling Again

As I followed my friend’s directions, I paddled it away from the ship. I loved the role reversal and as the water slopped over the sides of our kayak, I realized I was getting my feet wet again and it became symbolic. Suddenly, I knew I’d be traveling abroad again in the future. There was no doubt in my mind I could do it with a cane, independently or with help, and my vision loss would not stop me from pursuing my love for international travel.

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