I remember the first time. I had just graduated from college. My wife and I headed down to New Orleans. There it was. We could see it from a long way out. As we pulled up to the port we were awestruck. The cruise ship was one of the biggest things I had ever seen.

I remember the walk up to the ship. It was like going up levels in a massive hotel. Everyone was friendly and ready to make money off of me. We weren’t onboard for more than a few minutes when a waiter had already brought us drinks. I had never experienced anything like it.

We were both 23 on that trip and had never been too far away from Oklahoma. That changed after a choppy ride down the Mississippi River and into the Gulf of Mexico. We work up the next morning and I looked out the window. There was only water as far as my eyes could see. It was the freakiest and coolest thing all at the same time.

We ended up in Jamaica, Grand Cayman, and Cozumel on that trip. It was amazing and definitely got us hooked. It was the most awesome sense of freedom being out on the water.

My favorite spot on the ship was in the very front as late in the evening as I could get there. It was usually quiet by that time and I could feel the ocean air in my face and see all the stars up above.

That is what cruise ships have come to mean to me. Freedom.

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