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Heartwarming Small-Town Romances and Thrilling Mysteries

Earlier this month, I was blessed to spend a week with my extremely busy daughter aboard Royal Caribbean’s Voyager of the Seas. She had never been on a cruise, and I had only been on one to Alaska. I didn’t know what to expect in the Gulf of Mexico, especially considering there were still reports of hurricanes popping up. We were blessed that we didn’t have any of those, but we spent our fair share of time rocking.

I flew to Houston International, caught a shuttle to Galveston, and checked in our hotel on the beach. Daughter showed up shortly after, and Whataburger came after that. I mean, I’m in Texas. I have to have my Whataburger!

The shuttle to the pier showed up on time, and we got to check-in on time, but our room wasn’t ready. No worries. Our luggage would be delivered later so that meant it was time to eat! You never start a cruise without eating first, I was told.

Exploring the ship was next on the agenda. We found our lifeboat spot and checked in. The more we explored, the more crowded it got. Up and down stairs, across decks, up and through stores and restaurants we went. By suppertime, we pretty much knew the lay of the land. It was chilly out, and I was glad I had a jacket along. I thought this was supposed to be a warm-weather cruise!

We spent the days sitting on deck, sometimes in the warm sunshine, sometimes under a cover, reading books we’d brought along. I read for pleasure. Daughter read for her studies at Texas A&M. Reading is reading, and we both enjoy doing it. We watched movies outside, went to an ice-skating show indoors, went to a lecture by the captain (who was driving the ship?), and browsed the stores. And we ate. Buffet style and fancy dining style. It was all great food.

We stopped at two ports of call, but we didn’t get off the ship either time. Most everyone else did which left the salt-water pool open for just us and maybe one or two others. People disembarked at 9:30, and we were in the pool at 9:31. It was heavenly. The lifeguard was happy too. He told us any time there are no kids around, his job is much, much easier. By late afternoon, people started trickling in and getting in the pool, so we got out and let them have it. By then, we were well wrinkled, and the ice cream machine was going. We couldn’t pass up free ice cream.

The strangest thing happened one night while we sat on deck. My phone rang. I didn’t have cell service and didn’t pay for internet so for it to ring was startling. I answered it and it was a dear friend who asked me where I was. We laughed over my answer. But she called to tell me a mutual friend had died suddenly. As shocking as it was getting a phone call in the middle of the Gulf of Mexico, it was more shocking to hear of my friend’s passing. I’m still wondering how that call got through but think of it as a minor miracle. I was meant to get the news.

The water was much rougher than my previous cruise where it had been as smooth as silk. At night, we were gently rocked, reminding me of the hymn Angels Rock Me to Sleep. Thunderstorms hit on our way back, and the decks were closed down a couple times. And rain. It poured several times, flooding the decks. In the storms when the seas were rough, the pool would slosh around and spill out over the decks. Between that and the rain, the water was ankle deep outside. The last night, the waves were big enough to rock us way more than before. We popped a couple of the pills they hand out at the doctor’s office on board and never had a problem with being seasick. It was hard for me to walk, disorienting, without holding onto something. We turned in early that night because we had to get off by 8:30 the next morning. We read our books, then slept well. The calm seas close to Galveston meant we had no problem getting that last breakfast aboard ship.

Daughter and I try to do a mother-daughter trip each year for a reading retreat. With her work on her dissertation, I’m not sure we’ll be able to every year until she graduates. Whether we’re on a big boat out in the deep blue water or on a beach somewhere, I treasure the time we get to spend together. It’s never enough.

The Lord is my shepherd; I shall not want. He makes me to lie down in green pastures; He leads beside the still waters. Psalms 23:1-2

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