Resolving our husband & wife Vacation War this year was challenging. It is not yet known if the contract settlement will ultimately be satisfactory to both parties.
NOTE: If you have not yet read the backdrop to our annual holiday dilemmas, first click this link and read Vacation Wars.
APRIL – Pre-negotiation talks consisted of cautious exploratory comments, as both husband and wife were aware that tense communication would be needed to reach an agreement. As in previous years, both sides were initially far apart in their stance. At times, one or both walked away from the table, regardless of the seating arrangement or the size of the table.
AN EARLY SETTLEMENT WAS UNLIKELY!
? Cliff Marilyn ?
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MAY – Without paying any attention to a proper consultation process, the male contingent emphatically stated that holidays this year would consist of a road trip on familiar highways to sights already seen in British Columbia. The female contingent wisely agreed to this proposal, knowing it was still early days in the decision-making process.
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JUNE – At the wife’s request, both parties once again gingerly approached the bargaining table. The female contingent had reconsidered the May Proposal, and felt it was lacklustre and unimaginative. She had done research and felt that a road trip to Yukon, Alaska, and possibly the Arctic Ocean would add pizzazz and excitement to the couple’s vacation. After many days of gentle nagging, the male contingent agreed to the proposed Alaska Highway trip if the route length could be flexible. Of course, both parties were aware that HE was thinking the shortest distance possible, and SHE was hoping for the opposite.
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JULY – Knowing that all was not well in the negotiation process, the female party explored additional options. Encouraged by comments from the readers of the Vacation Wars article, she pursued the option of a cruise. After a few dead-end phone calls to unhelpful travel agents, she searched her Contact List and found Suzanne, an excellent travel agent for CRUISE SHIP CENTRES, who had helped with a small trip some years back. Suzanne found a deal: a one-week return trip from Vancouver to Alaska. After several lengthy discussions, both husband and wife signed the agreement for the cruise.
FINAL AGREEMENT ? ? ?
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It turned out that Cliff felt a cruise would be more predictable than a road trip with unknown road conditions, expenses, and accommodations. A compromise of a cruise worked well for Marilyn! She was happy to postpone the road trip, hoping a longer four-week travel holiday could be negotiated for a future summer.
A cruise also seemed a great way to celebrate milestone birthdays and a thirty-sixth anniversary. In addition, it was a good year to use the vacation budget (and a little more) on a one-week splurge since time away was limited due to numerous ongoing house projects delayed by leaks and floods. Most important of all, Cliff wanted to get back home as quickly as possible to keep working on the old Valiant car he is restoring with the three boys.
- maximum of two weeks away, including departure and return dates, and not a minute more
- creative financing approved by husband (at least, initially)
- trip arrangements for Cliff’s power chair, which he uses for longer distances
- wheelchair accessible room: only a few rooms were accessible, so finding one last-minute was amazing
- husband happy to remain on board for the entire cruise if necessary, as his wheelchair is too heavy for the port transfer lifts
Cliff says Marilyn can visit the ports by herself: he is probably thinking he will need a break from her chatter.
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MUSING ABOUT CRUISING
This will be our first cruise.
We are not used to extravagant vacations. Our only other luxury holiday, at a Mexican resort, was a generous 25th Anniversary gift from our friends and family. However, we have done a lot of travelling, but only by stretching dimes into dollars. We picked free or low-cost attractions and mostly cooked our own food. With travel trailer in tow, we frequently spent nights in rest areas or Walmart parking lots. Sometimes we just stayed by a creek, for free.
For this holiday, onboard a luxury liner, I wondered who would be on the cruise and what I needed to wear. What would people be like? Would fellow-passengers be like us, scrounging funds from hither and yon to be on a giant ship, or would they mostly be wealthy world travellers? Would I fit in, or will I feel like a misfit as I did in junior high?
Would they notice that some of my sandals, purchased for our trip to Mexico, look somewhat shabby? Would people be polite to my face, but then laugh behind my back because the new shoes I did buy were very cheap? Would they look in disdain at Cliff’s colourful new shirts, mostly purchased at a low-end clothing store? Would we be out of place at the Dress-up Nights, when Cliff puts on his well-used tux, worn mostly for weddings and funerals, and I put on my beautiful hardly-used but slightly dated pink gown from our anniversary eleven years ago? Could I wear the matching tiara, since we will be pretending to be a lord and lady in high society?
Unfortunately, my cruise-experienced friend said no to the tiara. I will leave it stashed away in its dark home in the back of a dresser drawer, waiting for me to wear it while watching live royal events on TV.
In the meantime, I need to remember that I am no longer an insecure teenager. I am more confident, with a stronger sense of my own identity. I must remember that I have learned that life’s experiences are common to us all, regardless of the amount in our bank accounts or retirement savings.
In our global family, we celebrate births, marriages, and graduations. Together, we also share sadness as money alone cannot save a dying infant in an ICU ward or guarantee successful chemotherapy treatments. Both hope and kindness are free to give and receive, whether on a rowboat or a cruise ship.
I hope I will know not to be distracted
by anyone’s outward appearance or financial status,
but instead will try to be aware of our common feelings.
Cliff is very familiar with the life levelling concept. Having had nine surgeries for hip and knee replacements, he has shared hospital rooms and physiotherapy sessions with both millionaires and paupers. He is not bothered with any of these concerns about wardrobe or people’s expectations. He just wants to rest.
Besides, on this cruise, I suspect he will care mostly about the seafood.
For this year, at least, I did not have to go on vacation by myself.
Make sure to read the complete travel series:
FROM VACATION WARS TO CRUISING ALASKA