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Cruising and forgetting world's strife - Ryan Whelchel

It's what everyone needs from time to time, the need to escape from the workplace and other frustrations of life and be bound for the sun.

On Sunday July 13th I was able to take a cruise with my family to the Bahamas. It was one of the most enjoyable experiences in my life. We took our voyage on Royal Caribbean International, on a ship that was dubbed Sovereign of the Seas. All the members that comprised the crew and employees of the ship were all remarkably kind and helpful in anyway possible. Most of them, if not all of them, were not from America, but from a wide variety of nationalities, that went into making every experience a much better one.

The food was probably one of the most remarkable things about the cruise. All the people that made up the kitchen staff were of courses from different backgrounds as well, making them able to create different dishes that were pleasing to every guest. The servers that would serve you dinner every night made sure they knew you by name and would address you as Mr. or Mrs. {insert and would remember your name every time, and would welcome you back every night. There was not one meal I ate the entire time on the ship that made me think that it just tasted okay. Every meal was something else ripe with excellence.

Enough about the food, I'm missing it already. The actual cruise the whole time while we were aboard was incredibly smooth. Only a few times did you ever feel the ship moving just the slightest, it was very quiet and tranquil at most times. We even had a room that was fourth from the front, so if you were going to feel movement then you would feel it there.

The captain would come over the P.A. system everyday to announce the forecast and what he thinks of it, along with the day's plans.

Your cabin attendant was just as polite and courteous as the rest of the crew and would leave extra towels in your room, sculptured in many forms of animals? and of course chocolates on the pillow.

The first day just half an hour before you actually set sail, you have to take part in a life jacket drill to make sure, "in the unlikely event of an emergency?" you would know how to strap on a life vest and be able to get to life boats.

On the second day, we were anchored off the coast of a small island named Coco Cay; Royal Caribbean International owns the island. The island itself is only a mile or two long, but is surrounded by crystal clear water on all sides. While there, my brother and I took part in snorkeling in the crystal waters, observing the multitude of colorful fish and the undersea life. The day was very beautiful, just like every other day, with the sun reigning high and the cool breeze blowing past. The whole serenity of the scene made you forget about wars in the Middle East, and crimes of the world, and it let you lay back and enjoy life to the fullest. Though I do have to say I much rather prefer my rock music to the island reggae, but I kept my CD player by my side.

The next day we pulled into a port in Nassau where two or three other ships, one from RCI, and the others from different lines were docked. To me Nassau is more of a shopping town. They have many shops, and some of them are even sponsored by the cruise line, therefore helping you decide where you should shop. The crew members had even had a meeting with passengers to tell them of the shops, and even warned that others may cheat you and rob you blind. They even warned of what streets you should stick to in the city so that you won't fall victim to the local crime. Nassau is known for having drug trafficking problems. And in part of the town you can see where crime would be very apparent. The cruise line even warned of being careful of whom you talk to, for you could even be slipped drugs or other illegal substances into your possessions without you even knowing.

There is another portion of Nassau called Paradise Island, which is more resort like, with lavish hotels and local beaches. There's even an aquarium that contains many species of sea fish, small and large, as well as sharks. Of course this too is most likely overpriced, but it's all part of the experience.

Aboard this ship there were always things to do. You could gamble at the onboard casino, go to the Internet caf?, and shop on many of the ship's very own stores. There are late night comedy shows, band performances by a rock/jazz group called Icepack, and many other events around the swimming pools up top.

The next day we spent out at sea as the ship traveled 11 mph back to Florida. The day was sunny like the rest with music blaring and everyone getting their last drinks from the bar before everyone had to pay off their sea pass card with all the expenses they incurred while aboard the ship. It was a very relaxing time all those days, but like all good things, it must come to an end.

So arriving back in Florida to take the eight-hour drive back home wasn't exactly like the cruise, but it was time to come back. So in the end I'm glad my parents were able to take us on such a pleasurable vacation for it was everything that wasn't the war-torn world (except for parts of Nassau), and highly recommend an escape to the islands whenever possible.

Ryan Whelchel, of Jonesboro, is a student at Georgia State University and a summer intern at the News Daily.