Queen_Mary_II_Einlaufen_Hamburg_Hafengeburtstag_2006_ smaller“I’m sorry. It’s a pisser, I know.” A’s crisp British accent crackled over the line from London to my office in Boston. “PeatMarwick want me to be in Australia that week, and there’s nothing I can do.”

That week in particular was the week we were to have sailed the Queen Mary II from New York to Southampton in 2005. Only a month or so earlier one of my European colleagues had gone to the christening party of that ship, and what an event it had been. Everyone in black tie; celebrities; even rumors of royalty. I was supremely envious, but the cruise industry was not my responsibility. Instead, it was I who got the annual invitation to go to Bentonville Arkansas for the Wal-Mart annual meeting and “float trip,” where members of the investing community got the opportunity to paddle down a backwoods creek with various members of Wal*Mart’s management and staff, in 3-man boats. Not exactly the Queen Mary II!

“There’s no way you can go the following week?” I asked her plaintively. “Why do they have to schedule these things during your vacation? And at the last minute? We’ve been talking about this trip for months.”

“I know, but the office in Australia needs me that week, and they can’t do it any other week. Unfortunately that was my only free week this spring. I’m really sorry but there’s nothing I can do about it.”

So I was left to on my own with a week’s vacation planned for May, and now, nothing to do. Fortunately we had not yet booked our tickets on the ship, so I was relatively free to do whatever I wanted. And taking a luxurious cruise alone did not seem all that much fun. My ex and I had taken a short cruise together during spring break in our first year of grad school. The cruise company had, in a misguided attempt to be helpful, assigned us to a dinner table with three single women — a mother and two daughters, all realtors from southern California. They were charming, enjoyable dinner companions, but we chuckled over the assignment. A gay couple “matched up” with three realtors from Southern California. Later we danced together in the ship’s disco, the only male couple there, but no one seemed to mind. By the end of the cruise, I had eaten so much —between breakfast, lunch, dinner, and “midnight snack”— that I didn’t want to see food again for a good long time. No, another cruise, especially alone, wasn’t the thing.

I needed something more adventurous.

Mexico…. What about Mexico?

To be continued….

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