What does taking a vacation have to do with escaping the 9 to 5?  I’d like to think there is a mind set that equally permeates both work and play.  I took a Caribbean cruise last week.  We lounged on the beach, climbed a water fall, played with sea turtles and explored Mayan ruins.  And then of course there is the 24/7 food and drink.  Cruises are generally somewhere on people’s “bucket list”.  It’s one of those things everyone should do at least once.

Most people see cruises for their ambiance, fine dining and exotic destinations.  I look at them a little differently for a couple of reasons.  First, I own a travel agency.  Back in the day we were the first exclusively online cruise agency.   I did the occasional seminar, was featured on the front page of “Prodigy”  and showed up in the New York Times travel section for free a couple times.    Through a combination of choice and circumstances we faded into the digital landscape as the mega travel agencies took the internet.  We still do a fair amount of business, and as such I take a couple cruises every year.  Cruising as much as I do,  my opinion is slightly jaded.   When I would go on cruises, sometimes I will skip ports and I probably spend more time in my cabin than most people.  I once wrote an entire system spec on a cruise ship.  People look at you a little strangely when you tell them you wrote a technical document on a cruise. For a long time I thought I looked at cruises the way I do because I take them so much.  Lately I’m thinking there’s more to it than frequency of travel.

In many ways, cruises are to vacations the same way 9-5 jobs are to work.  There are lots of things to do, and for the most part they have been scripted by someone else.  Now the first time you see napkin folding or participate in an acupuncture demonstration it’s kind of interesting.  After you have seen them a few times, they have all the appeal of a weekly staff meeting.   All you have to do is look at your outlook , I mean cruise calendar, and you know what is on the agenda for the day.   Making the switch from 5 days of 9 to 5 structure to 5 days without any structure can actually be a challenge for some people.  Cruises substitute a structure of common tasks and activities for a structure of uncommon tasks and activities (or so they seem unless you’ve done them a couple dozen times).  Once you get past the novelty factor breakfast, activity, activity,activity,lunch, activity,activity,activity,dinner looks pretty much the same whether you are in corporate america or sailing in the Caribbean.

Much the same way I try to self determine my work life, I also try to self determine my vacation life.  I think that once you can recognize the structures that are imposed on you, you can start to break free of them.    Sometimes you can’t see how your day controls you at work, but you might be able to see it while you are on vacation.