I turned off my internet for 7 days and something amazing happened. . .

Everything was fine.

We live connected culture where families literally sit around the dinner table and talk to each other on Facebook. That’s why I find cruises so refreshing. No phones. No internet. No urgency.

It’s a chance to reconnect with my family while we watch dolphins outside our balcony window rather than disconnect from them as we watch the 20th Netflix series this year.

The 1%

We had a group of 25 of my closest family and their friends on this trip — a 7 day cruise to Cabo San Lucas and Puerto Vallarta, Mexico. That’s slightly more than 1% of the Carnival Miracle’s ~2000 passenger capacity. I now truly understand how great it is to be in the 1% — and I definitely prefer being in this 1% to being in the 1% that’s usually talked about.

As the 1%, and especially as a tight-knit group, we quickly became famous for our many antics. By the third day, people were approaching us on the ship and asking if we were the group dressing up in costumes at dinner or the group that brought the cutout of Obama to dinner with us. By the fourth day they were broadcasting my family all over the ship as my cousin and her newlywed husband sat on stage across from my uncle and aunt (her parents) in the newlywed game. By the fifth day, we were the group that had “grandma” with us (because by that point everyone on the ship was calling my grandma “grandma”) and by the last night they were calling my mom “mom” too.

No Technology == Simpler Times

Cruises, and especially this cruise, reminded me of simpler times. Without their smartphones and devices, the kids in our group were playing the way me and my cousins used to play. Instead of burying their faces into glowing devices, they run around the ship making friends and learning new games and generally causing mischief.

I loved watching Emma and Phoebe, now first cousins by marriage, running around with a pack of their friends grabbing ice cream at 11:30 at night or sitting in the lounge laughing at a silly “spooooky” story that I hastily threw together.

I rarely saw the teenagers of the group (except for Bobby, who reminds me a little of myself in how family-oriented he is) as they were busy learning how to talk to girls instead of texting them. They also joined me for zip-lining, and I got to hear about their adventures and tell them about my mis-adventures.

For my wife and I, it meant that there was no Facebook or email to check every few minutes. There were no texts from friends or work to distract us. There was only us and our kids — something that I often yearn for and realistically only get to see once a year when we cruise.

Instead of being holed up in a corner somewhere trapped in a digital world, everyone was out watching shows or playing games or singing Karaoke and living in the real one. Conversations happen. People connect deeply and personally in a way that can only happen free from distractions. It’s a connection that I miss, and that I look forward to every year.

A Few Doors Down

My favorite part about this cruise was that my favorite people in the world were literally just a few doors away. We could visit my grandma and mom any time we wanted and bring the kids over for a quick “hello” or celebrate with my Uncle as he won (and mourn when he lost) at the casino.

It’s a family connection that reminds me of traditional families — the kind that would have dinner together every night because they lived in the same small village. I can see why village life is great for longevity too — you laugh together far more. You feel love a lot more as well, and if I’ve learned anything from my grandma, it’s that longevity comes from enjoying the time that you have and “putting on a smile”. We smiled a lot on this cruise because we were together.

So Long, and Thanks For All The Fish Carnival

A lot has to be said for the cruise ship and staff on this trip. There was something truly magical about this one — between the people we went with and the staff of the ship, this was unique and truly memorable.

The Carnival Miracle was an incredible ship. It’s an older ship in the fleet and due for an upgrade but the design is charming and reminiscent of cruising stories I used to hear. It had many nooks and crannies, lounges and hidden areas to discover. That sometimes made it hard to find places when you were looking for them (finding the kids club took us almost an hour the first day) but it also made for a fun and interesting environment to explore.

The food and entertainment on this cruise was the best any of us have experienced on any cruise — including my 2 uncles (and aunts) that are platinum cruisers (over 100 sea days). The shows were beautifully choreographed and impeccably executed, with singing and dancing that would’ve been right at home in a las Vegas theater. It was hard to believe that such an extravagant production was free. If anyone from Carnival reads this, whomever you had choreographing that show on Carnival Mircale July 9–16, 2016 deserves a raise.

Our servers became part of the family by the end of the trip, and we were genuinely sad to leave them on the last night. Corina, Robert (yes, please), and Iwan the dancing king were attentive and still managed to dance with us during dinner.

We spent our nights with Timothy at the Piano Bar who also did a special tribute to my grandma in front of the entire theater during the 88-keys show and had her up dancing the twist. We had to coax him to let us do some raunchier songs, but we had the power of the 1% and eventually he let us sing them while he played.

Thanks to my wifey Jessi and kids Sean and Natalie, Uncle Rick and Aunt Ellen (who financed a good chunk of the cruisers on this trip and celebrated their birthdays with us on the ship), My mom, Grandma, Michelle and Ronnie Ray (who got MARRIED on the ship — congrats!), Jenny and Tyler (Jessi and I’s “partners in crime”), Katlin, Kris, Phoebe, Emma, Uncle Bob, Aunt Jo, Bobby, Tristan, Troy, Mary (My grandma’s best friend since before I was born) and Bill, and Peyton and Cohen (who, like the chupacabra, made appearances to eat and then somehow disappeared into the O2 club). I love you all and will remember the stories and antics on this trip for the rest of my life.

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Entrepreneur. Engineer. Educator.

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