If you've known me for any length of time, you probably know I'm not the usual holiday-taker. While I've visited touristy restaurants and rented a car for a week, I'm more likely to cook dinner in a hostel kitchen, or rely on a bus schedule for getting around. I frequently walk or take metros, and I prefer to guide myself around an art museum than to join a tour group.
When Kay at Ocean Sports Waikoloa Village offered me a spot on her company's sunset dinner cruise, however, I gladly obliged—and though I wasn't expecting it, I had a powerful learning experience that is sure to expand my view of travel from this day forward.
The cruise itself was exceptional: Captain Will and his crew wore their entertainer hats loud and proud, the beer flowed like wine at the open bar (and the women, coincidentally, flocked instinctively like the salmon of Capistrano), and I made some wonderful new friends (Hi Doug & Ann!) over the eat-till-you-drop buffet line. Up until this point, there wasn't any real "lesson," but I was having a blast, and getting sea-woozy from the complimentary beer.
Minutes before sunset, Captain Will approached the foredeck with a very important announcement: Tammy and Wade, sunset cruisers themselves, had been married for 29 years and were going to renew their vows—at sea!—in our presence. Doug and I jumped up from our seats to capture the occasion: he, with the video camera, and me shutter-snapping away at a tear-jerking moment.
Captain Will acted as the master of ceremonies (if there's one thing Pirates of the Caribbean taught me, it's that a ship captain is legally able to conduct marriages, civil unions, etc.), and made an excellent seaworthy display as he poured the champagne for all of his guests. We toasted Tammy and Wade, who had been strangers to us just minutes earlier, and through their ceremony had bonded its witnesses.
The lesson I learned was that travel isn't always about your own moments. Many times, it's about someone else and their moments.
If we're not careful, it's easy to look at travel as a voyage of one's own awakening, and there's nothing wrong with that being a motive. But when traveling, don't forget to look out and find others around you who are having their own awakenings and moments—because when you celebrate with them, you're adding to everyone's experience. Even your own.