First Cruise (Proverbs 12:15)

My first and only cruise was through the Alaska inner passage to view the magnificent glaciers. It is truly the best way to see this natural wonder and I thought it would be a wonderful introduction to the world of cruising. For years, friends and family regaled me with stories of the incredible food, great stage shows, and numerous other on-board activities that made cruising a delightful way to vacation and travel to multiple destinations. I couldn’t wait!

That enthusiasm was quickly shattered. From the beginning, many things went wrong. Our baggage was delivered to the wrong cabin. The shower leaked. Everyday, another issue was added. Yet, the most disappointing to me was the quality of the food. Yes, a food bar was always open. Yes, it was a buffet and all you could eat, but I felt as though I was dining at a cafeteria at a high school summer camp. Even the vaunted steak and lobster night was a complete disappointment with the lobster and steak overcooked and under seasoned. 

At our breakfast on the first morning, my wife and I were joined at our dining table by another couple. We learned they were seasoned cruisers and had done this cruise to Alaska once before. Over the next five days, we would exchange pleasantries and occasionally share a meal. They were excited to learn that this was our first cruise and gave us helpful tips to enhance our experience . At the end of the cruise, as we were waiting to disembark, we saw the couple again. The husband turned to me and asked, “So what did you think of your first cruise?”

I looked at my wife, pursed my lips, then said, “Truthfully, it really did not live up to my expectations.” 

“Oh? What happened?”

I shook my head. “No, no. I don’t want to go through this again, I just want to go home and only remember the good things about this trip.”

He persisted. “I really would like to hear what you didn’t like about the cruise.”

All right. He asked for it. I recounted all of the negative events, not attempting to sugar coat any of the experiences. During this rant, he politely listened and when I was finished, he smiled and said, “Listen, there is something I didn’t tell you when we first met. I work for this cruise line. I’m part of customer relations.”

My eyes opened wide in horror! “I am so sorry! I would never have….”

“No, no!” He quickly stopped me. “It’s okay! I’m so glad you were honest with me. It’s my job! I need to find out what is really happening on these cruises with our customers, especially first time cruisers like you and your wife.”

I turned to my wife who was equally surprised. “Listen, I agree with a lot of the things you said. Our cruise line used to be one of the best but I know in the last few years, we have not kept up with the rest of the industry and we’ve let a lot of things slip through the cracks. I want to make it up to both of you.” He gave me his business card. “Please email me and I will make sure to get you a substantial discount on your next cruise along with a cabin upgrade. I really want you to have a better experience with our cruise line.”

I was impressed by the candor of this employee of the cruise line. Although I never availed of his offer, I praised his actions. He did not try to make excuses for the mediocre experience. God expects the same of all of us.

Fools think their own way is right, but the wise listen to others. 

Proverbs 12:15 (NLT)

The ancient Greek philosopher, Epictetus, wrote, “We have two ears and one mouth so that we can listen twice as much as we speak.” Truth, indeed! So often, I am too quick to defend myself when I come under criticism. Certainly, there are times when it is unjustified, but many more times, there is truth with the criticism and if I take the time to reflect upon it, I realize there is more truth with the accuser than with my defense. 

It is always painful to own up to one’s faults and not make excuses. God understands this and does not abandon us. He honors us when we are honest with him and others. 

Love and trust in the Lord; seek His will in your life.

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