I Survived the Booze and Cruise: A Guide to Past Tense Instructions in the Bahamas

The only souvenir I still have from the Bahamas is an old I survived the Booze and Cruise t-shirt…and a few snorkeling rules forever etched in my memory. Back in college (as if I needed to say more), my boyfriend, his best friend, and I went on a cruise to the Bahamas. We, of course, did all the necessary research to know the attractions we wanted to see and have some familiarity with local customs…Yeah, right. We knew nothing and cared even less. We were going to the Bahamas on a cruise ship for about $200 a person! It was a deal where we had to listen to their time-share nonsense, but we were college students. We were pros at listening for hours on end about topics we had little to no interest in.
The three of us were wandering around Nassau discussing all that we wanted to do: snorkel, take a ride in a glass bottom boat, veg on the beach, drink something with an umbrella in it…Thats when a woman walked up to us to invite us on the Booze and Cruise. I assumed she wanted to braid my hair like everyone else, so I really didnt even want to slow down. Instead, she said that she had a coupon for us to go on the Booze and Cruise for only $40 per person, and for that price, we would be riding in a glass bottom boat out to a private island with white, sandy beaches and stopping to snorkel along the way. That was most of what we wanted to do, and it was cheaper than doing things one at a time. Then, there was the kicker. All you can drink for free. SOLD!
We boarded the boat and started drinking like – well, like college students with no idea of their own mortality. We were ordering several drinks at a time, having a great time, but we were never going to be able to remember it. Eventually, our boat stopped to snorkel next to a reef. However, I literally have a shark phobia. Deciding to snorkel was a major step for me, but I was in the Bahamas, and I wasnt going to go home with any regrets.
I stood on the edge of the boat, waiting for my snorkel gear, when the captain began to address us over the loud speaker. If you plan to snorkel today, please do not have had any alcoholic drinks… This would have been ideal information to share with me BEFORE you opened the bar. I put my mask on and began to adjust the mouthpiece anyway. Now my boyfriend was hardly the English major I was, but even he got a kick out of please do not have had. Past tense instructions. Greeeeeaaat. Then our brave captain addressed us again. Also, please do not wear anything shiny or metallic in the water as it will attract barracudas, which are much more of a threat than sharks. You will look like a fishing lure. I looked down at my I kid you not silver metallic bathing suit with a silver zipper from bottom to top, and I began wondering if the Lord might be telling me something. Thou shalt not swim with the sharks. Thou art wise to have thought before that mortals should not swim with large, powerful, man-eating fish with enormous teeth. Exactly what in the world was I supposed to do at this point? I am in the middle of the ocean. I cant change clothes! How do these people function on past tense instructions?!? And barracudas? I wasnt even afraid of them. Now I have a whole new fear. And did this man just say shark while we are out on the ocean? Its one thing to utter such horrors in the living room of your land-locked home, but on the water?!? Shut up before one hears you, idiot! All of these thoughts were going through my mind as I stood there on the edge of the boat, fully clad in my snorkel gear…and apparent fishing lure accessories, as close as I might ever be conquering my fear. My boyfriend went in first, and his friend comforted me, encouraging me to join him. Then they both hummed the theme to Jaws, and then they would encourage me again. Someone should tell them in the future that they should not have done that that day; they could benefit from some past tense instruction.
I jumped in. I did it! I snorkeled! I didnt even hyperventilate once. I saw beautiful fish and had an incredible time just being proud of myself. Not a barracuda or shark in sight. My boyfriend tried to hug me, because he was so proud, but I only held on for a second, because I wanted to look over here, over there, and over on the other side too. Suddenly I was Jacques Cousteau!
I think we were out there for about an hour. When we came back to the boat, we were all drying off, safe and sound. I was beaming and toasting my victory. I had moved from a serious buzz to a serious buzz while conquering a crippling phobia…to conquering the aforementioned phobia and becoming entirely too intoxicated to function.
The captain brought me an ice water. Impressing the Booze and Cruise captain with your level of intoxication is only cool while you are actually drunk. Once you try to sober up later on a rocking cruise ship, mind you you realize the feat is not impressive, but instead a fore horseman of the Apocalypse. But while I was still drunk, I brought a few more rounds over to the guys, and we sat down to talk about all of the things we saw out there. I think everyone on the boat knew exactly how happy I was. As I settled in to enjoy the ride back, basking in my glory and laughing at my stupid fear of being eaten alive in the ocean, a woman walked over to us and said, Did you guys see that huge barracuda out there?

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