“I won’t throw up on you.”
Yep. That’s what I told a woman a few weeks ago while on a cruise to Alaska.
We had 20 family members on the cruise. Well, not the entire time, as we lost two in Canada. I’ll explain that in a second.


My Dad suggested we take a family trip. We all survived the Stenberg Disney World Trip of January 2013! So the chant (and planning) became — Alaska 2014!
 

Then, we invited an aunt, uncle and cousins.

The cruise was pretty smooth sailing until it wasn’t. It was our second day on the ship and several of us became queasy. Enzo was fine. He enjoyed body surfing over his teen and twenty-something cousins, running without a care in the world, and eating a pile of french fries.


The thought of food made me almost lose my lunch. So, our waiter sent us packing with saltine crackers and green apples. A magic potion aided by my patch, band bracelets, and motion sickness medicine.


One of the ladies in the spa suggested, I was “trying too much” to keep the sea sickness at bay. My response: “I won’t throw up on you.”


Let me get to the evidence that we will leave family members behind. No joke. Just a warning, if you ever want to travel with us.


It sounds like an obvious thing NOT to do, but a not-so funny thing happened when the ship docked in Victoria, BC. My niece, who hadn’t felt well, visited the ship’s medical office. The office called for an ambulance. While most of the family was out exploring Victoria, my brother and his daughter quietly began their international adventure. We know it had a quiet beginning because my nephew and his fiancée  heard security call for an ambulance with no siren.


When hubby, Enzo and I returned with an hour or so before the ship was scheduled to leave, we saw family members waving at us from an upper deck.


I think “Oh, this never gets old with family members greeting you.” They were thinking … “we need you for information.”


I scrambled to find the travel insurance information, because, of course, we only thought about it in case we had to cancel the trip. Really, if you coordinate a trip with multiple families, you should make sure everyone prints out the insurance card. The ship’s dial up Internet is slow.


My sister-in-law scrambled to find information on her daughter’s condition. The rest of us sat around nervously not knowing what to do. We were just delusional that the medical issue would be dealt with and my brother and niece would travel via ferry and meet the family in Seattle in time for the plane on Saturday.


A lot can happen or NOT between a Thursday and a Saturday. There were calls to congressional member’s  staff and the state department. My niece was treated at the Royal Jubilee Hospital. Apparently, the 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. set up for care left my brother a little more than antsy. They just wanted to get home.


Once my niece was stable to travel by the following Tuesday, my brother gathered her up in a wheelchair and began his journey back into the United States. The whole effort was absurd, crazy, and mind numbing as there were concerns, hesitations, and little assistance with their travel. During my niece’s hospitalization, there were a lot of crazy ideas being tossed around about how to get them back into the U.S. — did I mention they didn’t have passports? One minute we were told they could fly due to a medical emergency. The next we were told they couldn’t. No passport equaled no flying post-9/11. So my brother made a run (or took a taxi) from the hospital to the harbor for the Clipper, a ferry to Seattle.


Did I mention I feel it should be criminal for a cruise line to allow passengers on board without a passport? Did I mention I feel like cruise lines should do more for passengers it gets into a country without passports?


My brother and my niece made it to Seattle with birth certificates, lots of prayers, and pain meds for my niece. While technically, they still should have had passports to travel by the ferry, agents let them in. Thankfully, no one denied them entry, since they are U.S. citizens.


My aunt and uncle helped them in Seattle until arrangements could be made to return to Georgia. A midnight flight had them land in Georgia around 8 a.m. a full week after my niece left the ship in Victoria. She was quickly hospitalized in Georgia with more tests. She now has answers and a game plan for treatment. Oh, and she also has a wedding in mid-July! (Thank you all for taking time to pray for my niece and the family!)


I didn’t feel like the cruise ended until she left the hospital on Sunday. Then, it felt OK to begin sorting vacation photos and working on my to do list.
So, in my head I have the cruise mentally grouped as Alaska and after we left two family members behind. I’m not sure my sister-in-law can find any humor in it all yet, but I’m telling you humor is the best way I can deal with medical emergencies.


Seriously, my brother deserves a medal for everything he did — he dealt with a medical emergency, a completely different medical system, and efforts to coordinate contact with travel insurance representatives, cruise line folks, and family members crazy out of their heads for information.


While visiting Alaska was very cool, spending time with family was the focus of the trip. We enjoyed a variety of excursions together in Seattle, Juneau, and Skagway.


A few notes:

  • Running into relatives randomly on the boat never got old. Hubby had to remind me a few times that it was logical since we were all traveling together. Still, I was giddy.
  • Make a joke and well, it may never be forgotten. My dad reported: “I saw a bear in a canoe.” As a result, Dad had his picture taken with every bear in a canoe we could find. Plus, his Christmas tree will now be adorned with a bear in a canoe — several of them.
  • For those, who think, “No one knows me here. I’ll let it all hang out on vacation.” I saw people I know from a small town in north Georgia. They were on a different cruise ship. My sister’s former neighbors were on our ship.
  • To just be a kid, Enzo attended the adventure camp or as he called it “boat school.” He earned a medal for his participation in a talent show. He also earned a junior park ranger badge from one of the best programs I’ve seen in Skagway. (The ranger and I spoke for a minute about a story I wrote about a junior park ranger!)
  • Hubby lost two pounds. I gained two pounds.
  • You don’t realize how much you rely on texting and quick phone calls to communicate until you don’t have cell service for a week.
  • I wondered if the folks working on the ship feel a little like it’s Ground Hog Day. I heard people asking staffers the same questions over and over. I tried not to ask too many questions or just eavesdropped.
  • I found the questions at the Captain’s Talk to be a little crazy — “If the ship goes down, would you be the first off?” or “If my wife knocked me overboard, could I survive?”
  • My zero email inbox experiment helped. I had zero emails when I boarded the ship in Seattle. A week later, I had more than a thousand.

It’s been a struggle to return to regular stuff after all that excitement — Alaska, medical emergencies, international intrigue, a week of Vacation Bible School, and more medical stuff.


So, I’ll try here, today one of my Reader University post appears on Writing from the Peak.


Baby steps. And, on ship or on land, I will do my best not to throw up on you.