Post-Cruise Depression (PCD)

by Susan Kraus (2009)

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Having just returned from an 8 night cruise on Royal Caribbean’s Radiance of the Seas, I’m having a little trouble with re-entry. The diagnosis is obvious: PCD (Post-Cruise Depression.) I don’t expect sympathy, but a little understanding would be nice. I write this so that you may appreciate that bliss can have consequences.

It’s like this:
I miss my little room with the big window where I would sit on the bed and stare, mesmerized, at the endless blue sea, the white foam of the waves as the ship moves through ocean. My window at home looks over the side yard where the old potting bench sits, no grass will grow, and we are trying to persuade the Yorkie to do her business… with little success.

I miss having a steward who says “Morning, ma’am” and then makes the bed and cleans up the room while I am at breakfast or lounging by the pool. I miss living in a compact space, with a limited wardrobe, everything a form of miniature, such that all of the problems from home also begin to feel like they are in miniature, until they recede from consciousness.

I miss my hot tea and croissant on the side deck with the blue tufted couches and chairs, feet up, with a book. I miss saying, “I think I’d like an omelet, please, with a bit of bacon and veggies and cheese,” and then having it brought to me, piping hot.

I miss the Solarium, the sound of waterfalls, the salt-water pool, the exquisite tile work, the dramatic art, the silky-smooth transitions from Jacuzzi to pool to Jacuzzi to pool. I miss the waiters with trays of drinks with those cute little umbrellas. I miss the sensation of drifting off into dreamland on thickly padded teak loungers, and the freedom of being able to drift, of no worries for that particular moment.

I miss the gym with treadmills that look over the ocean, working up a good sweat, then hitting the Thermal Suite for steam, cold shower, sauna, shower, steam, shower… until my muscles are putty. I miss the heated blue tiled chairs facing the floor-to-ceiling glass wall.

I miss dressing for dinner, with cocktails every night in the Centrum lounge, dancing to a trio, pretending to all grown-up (which, at 57, I guess I am.) I miss lingering over 5 course dinners, being waited on, not knowing what will be offered because I did not do the shopping or meal planning or cooking…. nor will I do the dishes and cleaning up. I miss that a lot.  I miss saying “I’d like to try the tiger shrimp and the escargot if you please.” I miss having choices, lots and lots of choices.

I miss the sensation of waking to a new island, a new adventure, a new beach.

I miss having evenings that extend past eleven, past twelve, even past one, checking out 5 nightspots, and returning to a cabin where the bed is turned down and little chocolates are on my pillow. At home, no one turns down the bed, cleans up the room, and puts chocolate on my pillow. I miss sinking into oblivion to the gentle rocking sensations of the sea.

I miss the quiet, the absence of TV, not knowing what horrific tragedy the world has endured that I can do nothing to prevent or assist. There is something perversely comforting in knowing that the world will survive… or not… and that there is nothing I can do about any of it. If I miss a week of ‘news,’ life goes on.

I miss having my husband to myself, without the respective pulls of work, children, chores or responsibilities. I miss the intimacy of being able to touch whenever we want, to hold hands, to doze on parallel chaises in the quiet of  afternoon shade. I miss having each other in focus,  a vacation zoom lens that allows us to see each other more closely and clearly than at home.

I miss being unreachable…. No e-mail, no cell phone, nada. Being at sea is the only time in my life when I am unreachable. At home, the need to be available is unrelenting. I think that I miss this more than anything.

I miss feeling radiant on The Radiance of the Seas. I’m much cuter at sea than on land. This makes no logical sense but it is so true.

There is no quick cure for PCD. It is a transient diagnosis, tasting of  melancholy, a bitter-sweet recollection, a period of transition from that time and space apart, so very different, back to real life.

It will take a few days, so be patient.
And, again, no sympathy is expected, just a little understanding. 

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"I think we often know things in our gut way before the synapses connect in the head."