Another phobia I have is of being trapped underground, although in my imagination asphyxiation would be slow and gradual, almost like falling asleep. I don't suffer from claustrophobia and have often taken excursions in famous caves and tombs around the world. I draw the line at exploring the catacombs of Rome, however, where I might become trapped with human heads and bones, or the tunnels under the pyramids of Egypt, where a guide's single candle lights the way and if extinguished, would leave me trapped in a labyrinth forever.
There's another phobia I have, much less severe - it's of being on a ship and never being able to get off.
Now this might sound like utopia to some, especially if it were a cruise ship. I know there are millions of travelers who don't want to pack and unpack to move around during a trip, so all they'd have to do is continue to uses the washer and dryer on board year after year. But cruise ships aren't my thing, since I always feel confined and want to explore LAND, not water! I admit that one of the best trips Charley and I have ever taken was through the Galapagos Islands of Ecuador, where the only way to explore the differing flora and fauna of the islands was to travel among them by ship (we had 100 people on board) and disembark on tenders. The only time we spent aboard ship was late afternoon through dinner, lectures, and sleep. The next morning we were off again to explore completely different terrain and wildlife.
That has been our only experience as a couple on a ship (excluding ferries and cruises around city harbors). It freaks me out to think about possible storms aboard (and nausea!), and how 1000-6000 people would scramble to evacuate in an emergency.
Not to mention the viruses and germs one could pick up from the ventilation system or contaminated food or being isolated without the inability to reach loved ones in an emergency.
I recently read in The Palm Beach Post (March 14, 2016, page E1) about a woman who has chosen to spend eight years living aboard a ship. She is a Florida woman who had taken 89 cruises with her husband before he passed away. After his death, she sold her home and became a permanent resident on the five-star Crystal cruise ship, Serenity. The twelve-year-old vessel has 655 crew members and Lee Wachtstetter has circled the globe fifteen times on the ship. Her cruises total four hundred in number.
She rarely goes ashore because she figures she's already been there. Really? But she sure knows the in's and out's of her ship's hallways and the square-footage of her compartment! How about exploring NEW alleyways in ports along the route? She says she loves the quiet when everyone else departs for excursions and spends that time watching a movie, reading, or doing her needlework.
She keeps up with her mail via laptop. Family members visit her when she docks in Miami, sometimes up to five times per year.
I wonder if she would list to starboard if she tried to walk on shore?
And resident Lee Wachtstetter has permanent company on board! Three other women live on the ship, too. They receive nice floral arrangements from the cruise line, occasional shipboard credits, and actual cash rewards upon reaching high-level cruise milestones.
"My daily average cost is $450," says Lee. "It's pricey, but my husband was a good provider."
Crystal Cruises provides dance hosts for passengers traveling alone (there are meet-and-greet cocktail parties). Her husband didn't like to dance, but now Lee gets all the dancing she wants.
Before living on the Serenity, she lived on a Holland America liner for three years. She switched when Holland America announced they were stopping the dance host program.
She meets new friends at dinner around a table for eight. Guess how much weight she's gained? Twenty-three pounds! She has begun to order half portions for meals.
She teaches needle work to passengers and gives her work away to crew members, who make every attempt to create a "home" for Lee, even if they have to build it. One crew member built extra storage shelves for her. Another made a framed cushioned wall-hanging to hold her earrings.
A former R.N., she rarely has to visit the shipboard doctor. Once, trying to get rid of a lingering, nasty cold, the ship's doctor advised, "You have laryngitis. Don't talk." On a ship? Was he for real?
Speaking of reality, to each his own.
Let me know your thoughts about your phobias or living aboard a cruise ship by posting in the "Comment" box.