We were late!
We’d forgotten when booking this Disney cruise we’d also booked “Swimming with the Stingrays” on beautiful sweltering Castaway Disney Island.
We remembered only because we noticed – at around 10:50 – an 11:00 activity booking on one of the many little ticket things they hand out when you first board the ship.
Guest services radioed ahead for the island tram to wait for us because we were late!
We paid extra for this little Disney Island excursion.
In a flash, we were in our swimsuits, slapping on sun lotion, and running down a hot paved path to where hotter passengers waited for us on the Island’s steamy tram; we got off at the first stop; ran down another hot path, this one at least sandy. Down to the Stingray class hut.
All the good on-time-for-class “students” sat in rows on wooden benches, already donned in their masks, snorkels and life vests.
The instructor looked askance at us, and now I knew how my own boys feel on those bad school-day mornings when they’re issued late pink slips because I let my car battery go dead by leaving the interior lights on all night.
We’d missed the whole introduction as to what to expect from these enormous stingray creatures, came in only at the part where the instructor assured us that their barbed tails had been snipped; you know, like the barbed tail that pierced the heart of that TV celeb naturalist Steve Irwin of “Crocodile Hunter.” I was reassured that we wouldn’t die.
The previous day, on our first Disney excursion off the ship, we’d been labeled with Pinocchio stickers to be herded to our specified bus depot, made to empty our pockets of all stolen buffet apples and bananas, since we were in the Bahamas where they charge anywhere from $500 to $5000 for food taken off the ship – a tad more than the price of a T-shirt at a Disney gift shop.
I lived in fear of being late for our boarding of all these excursion buses. I worried most about missing the last buses to herd us back to the ship. “Do they take headcounts?” I kept asking my husband.
“Keep cool.” He meant that literally, as the temps were always 100 plus degrees everywhere we disembarked. What was I expecting in the Bahamas? Maybe a simple breeze? Before we attempted a simple short trek to a restroom or food stand, we’d dunk ourselves in the nearest body of water, be it a pool or the glorious Bahama waters.
Back at the stingray class: I’m all mother, as on those late-to-school mornings, but instead of forcing my kids’ arms into jackets, I was strapping on life vests, which have to be blown up for God’s sake, while Daddy, a long-ago-certified-deep-sea diver, was more expert at goggle adjustments:
We caught up with the rest of the class already down at the water. I never did get my own goggle and mask on. But I looked just like I do on those tense school mornings:
Only difference was, a stingray was about to brush up against me:
The good students were already standing in groups in front of feeding trays. Rather, some kind of feeding ramp things, that the stings rays had been trained to glide up and over so you could feed them:
But Kenny was too afraid to lay his hand out with a stick of food between two fingers for them to suck up (as later he would be afraid of riding any Disney World rides).
“It just feels like a vacuum!” – which it did, when I would hold my hand up to our own vacuum to test its suction. In fact, I wished our vacuum sucked as good as these sea creatures; I’d be able to get up more cookie crumbs pressed into all our rugs.
Kenny didn’t understand this analogy, as I have not yet trained him to vacuum, only to use the carpet sweeper after dinner under the dining room table where he likes to drop his food.
As for me, I immensely enjoyed feeding these magnificent creatures. Looking into their marvelous human-like eyes, as they seemed to spy up at us mockingly: “What you think, we’re stupid? Who spent $169 per person just to watch us swim up over these plastic trays for a free meal, then to brush up against your legs like any old common house cats? Now go snorkel for your allotted twenty minutes and we’ll flap around you, and if you’re real good, we’ll pose for your Disney underwater cameras that you weren’t smart enough to think to buy along with a Disney T-shirt.”
Ok, you smart beautiful underwater big butterflies, what you maybe don’t know is all that forked out cash (or hopefully some of it) went toward your conservation, as we were handed out special Stingray “thank you” buttons on the return of all rental snorkels, masks and now deflated vests.