We’ve always been big travelers, planning and dreaming of the next family vacation on the plane home from the current trip. My in-laws are very generous people who also like to travel the world and often bankroll our excursions.
They’re big sports enthusiasts and never miss an Olympics. In 2004, when the Olympics were in Athens, they rented a villa and planned to be there for the month.
We had recently had our second child, but didn’t want our newfound state of chaos to deprive us of the opportunity to see Greece. We weren’t so ambitious to think that we could handle the actual Olympics though, and we were concerned about the heat and pollution of Athens. We suggested to Steve’s parents that we join them for a post-Olympics leg: a family vacation to recover from their vacation.
We did a great deal of research and suggested the Greek Islands of Santorini and Crete. My father-in-law takes vacation planning as seriously as a general going into battle so he took the planning over at that point, booking luxury hotels and arranging transportation. I had read that ferries were the most convenient way to travel between Greek Islands, so I convinced him to cancel our flight from Santorini to Crete in exchange for a three-hour ferry ride. He was skeptical, but indulged me when I argued that it would be so much easier than taking two connecting flights.
A Good Start
At first, the ferry ride seemed idyllic. The boarding was quick and efficient, nothing like going through airport security. Our 3-year-old, Bella, was thrilled to be on such a large vessel and was jumping from window to window, peering at the turquoise colored waves just below eye-level. The seats were cushy and comfortable. I walked over to the mini-bar to get some snacks and was pleased to see that it was very well stocked.
When I returned to our seats, everyone was comfortably ensconced. My mother-in-law had her crossword out, my father-in-law was engrossed in the latest James Patterson novel, Steve was feeding Baby Jack a bottle, and Bella was quietly playing with some paper dolls. I sat down and took a moment to congratulate myself on having asserted myself into the planning process.
The Vomiting Begins
Then the seas got rough. At first the vomiting was limited to a few people in the cabin, but it soon spread. Each time a wave tossed us up, the smell of throw-up would waft back and a few more people would start retching. I fought the urge as long as I could, but soon the roiling and toiling of the sea proved to be too much for me. I handed the baby over to Steve, put my head in my hands, grabbed a brown paper bag, and waited for the onslaught to begin. Within seconds I was oblivious to everything but the powerful heaving as my stomach worked overtime to rid itself of its contents.
Stomachs of Steel
During my first dinner with my prospective in-laws, they had quizzed me about whether I got seasick and were appalled when I revealed that I had on a few occasions. They boasted that everyone in their family was completely impervious to rough seas. At the time, I thought their obvious exaggeration was a quirky but endearing trait.
Soon after I started throwing up, my children, contaminated by my weak genes, got sick too. I was completely incapacitated, paralyzed in my seat, clutching my bag. As soon as Bella started throwing up, Steve passed Jack to his mother. Jack started crying hysterically, and projectile vomited his milk all over my mother-in-law. He continued to thrash around, trying to get out of her arms, unable to understand why he felt so awful and why his mother was not caring for him.
Within an hour of our departure, almost everyone in the cabin was seasick. Only the Druckmans with their stomachs of steel were fine. Although they weren’t retching, they probably would have preferred to be semi-conscious than to be living through the horror of being trapped in a cabin filled with the noise of a hundred people vomiting their guts out.
As soon as we landed, and my feet touched the firm ground, my nausea vanished. I was suddenly starving. I turned to my in-laws, noticed that their faces were still quite green, and suggested that we grab a quick bite to eat before heading to our hotel.
My normally kind and gentle mother-in-law glared at me and just shook her head before saying, "No ferries. Ever again."
Vanessa is TravelingFoodMom , a freelance writer and blogs at Chefdruck Musings , Chefdruck Reviews, Savvy Source and Jersey Bites. Vanessa is still happily married and now has three children. They still love to travel, although not on ferries. Her in-laws have recovered and amazingly still value her advice in planning trips.