We are in Progreso, Mexico this morning, tied up at the world’s longest dock. We’ve had a lovely leisurely morning – we slept in a little and then had breakfast in the dining room and now we are gathering up our energy to explore Progreso a bit – perhaps find a place to swim.

Yesterday we did a shore excursion called “Catamaran sail, snorkel, and beach party” that involved snorkeling and then time on a “private beach”. There were 38 of us on a catamaran that can hold up to 130 people – more on this later – and we sailed for about 45 minutes to a spot in the ocean where we had exactly 40 minutes to snorkle. We had great fun, though it was a bit crowded with people – the time was way too short. I love to just float so that the fish think you’re one of them and they swim right in front of you. One of them pooped right in front of Mary’s face. She also saw a stingray and a barracuda. I missed both of those things – I spent a lot of time trying to get away from the crowd because I was worried about getting kicked. Consequently I never seemed to be where there were many fish to see. After our very short snorkle we went to the “private beach” which was very crowded with people. When we arrived there were two other catamarans there. While we were there, two others arrived. These had the full 130 people completely jammed on board standing elbow to elbow and made me once again appreciate the pleasures of not being on a huge mass-market ship (there were 6 other cruiseships in Cozumel with us, including Royal Caribbean’s Freedom of the Seas, the world’s largest cruiseship holding upwards of 4,000 passengers).

I found the “private beach” unpleasantly crowded. I spent most of my time swimming and floating, but the salt water started to bother my eyes so we went next to our catamaran and just sat in the surf. I threw our sunblock behind me in the sand and in less than 5 minutes someone had stolen it. I was quite appalled. Later at dinner I told this story to a tablemate who explained that “you can’t leave anything anywhere around here because these people will steal it.” I’m often a little slow to pick up on veiled prejudicial remarks and at first I thought she meant Crystal passengers and then I realized she meant Mexicans.

Often when people make these sorts of veiled racist, classist or homphobic remarks I just sit uncomfortably by and don’t say anything, partly because they’re spoken in code so I’m not sure if I’ve heard what I think I’ve heard, and partly because they’re not blatantly hateful so I’m not sure how to confront them. Then later I think of what I should have said, and feel bad for not saying anything. This time, however, (partly because, unfortunately, our tablemates have made enough such remarks that we’re more in practice now in recognizing them) I surprised myself by rising to the occasion and insisting that it was a cruise ship passenger who stole my sunscreen, not a Mexican. I had to defend this thesis – no, there were no Mexicans selling anything, no, all the catamaran’s staff were on the catamaran, but I finally convinced her.

We were torn about what to do after dinner – there was a classical piano concert that I really wanted to hear, but there was also a “Friends of Dorothy” party. “Friends of Dorothy” is code for “meeting of all the gay and lesbians on board.” The name comes from the stereotypical gay men’s love of Judy Garland. Many cruise ships have a “Friends of Dorothy” party once per sailing, but we had never been on a ship that had one. I felt that it was a business requirement that we go, and so we did. When we walked up we saw about 10 men and were worried that perhaps lesbians are not friends of Dorothy, but we were warmly welcomed and eventually saw two women who were very happy to learn that they are not the only lesbians on board. All the men were extremely friendly, and came forward to introduce themselves. They included two of the ship’s entertainers and two of the ship’s officers and perhaps one of the gentleman hosts, though I’m not positive about that.

We had ordered non-alcoholic drinks when we came in the room and after meeting all the men we sat with the two women. I noticed that Mary had ordered a second drink so I said, “Mary are you ordering a second drink because you found out the alcohol is free?” When she confirmed, I, too, ordered a glass of wine. The two women we were talking with were, I’m sure, impressed with our classiness! We had a nice chat with them. They have sailed Crystal many times and we asked them about how having this big group of travel agents aboard had changed the feeling around the ship. In particular, we had run into some haughty people and we were wondering if these might be travel agents. Our new friends told us that there are normally MORE haughty people onboard (“you guys have bumped some snotty people off”,) but, they both said about the haughty people, “They’re just SO fun!” I loved their attitude. They also told us that Crystal makes a point of having a Friends of Dorothy party on every sailing and that it always includes hosted drinks and h’ors douerves. (sp?)  I really liked that there was such a genuine effort to welcome us.

Our women friends had to leave for dinner so we stood up too, but ended up talking for some time to a couple of men from Texas whom we really liked. This was their first cruise ever and they were a bit nervous about the movement of the ship. Yesterday was the first day there was really any perceptible movement on the ship. I was glad for it because I like the rocking, but I imagine it must be a shock if you’ve never been on a cruise ship before and you’ve been sailing for 4.5 days without any movement.

There was a show that I actually wanted to attend. It was a Tony-award nominated vocalist accompanied on piano by his wife. On Monday night during the Christmas Tree lighting ceremony I had noticed them on the staircase. I thought they were just passengers but they were the most adorable couple and they seemed to be having so much fun that I spent a lot of time watching them. When we got back to our room I learned they were the headline entertainment for Tuesday evening, but we ended up being too tired to go. Instead we went back to our room and were asleep by 10.