Confession time: I’m an Accidental Nudist.
I wrote that post tongue-in-cheek prior to being part of the Big Nude Boat that sailed February 9th-17th on the Carnival Freedom with Bare Necessities. I argued with people that I was not a Nudist (with the capital N) because I didn’t go to nude beaches, resorts or go out of my way to nudist functions. I defended being an occasional nude model who didn’t care one whit if other people got naked.
That’s right. I dug in my heels, cleared out my trench and fired away at everyone who called me a Nudist.
The fine people here at Clothes free life asked me to write a review on the Big Nude Boat, and because Opportunity knocked, and I like to see what Opportunity is selling (and I was going on the cruise anyway), I agreed to write about my experiences on board the ship. I told myself to have my mind wide open, wider than it is normally. I told myself to observe, ask questions and go with the flow but still be myself. I’ll also be frank with you and say that I started to write a review on board the ship which I promptly scrapped. The Big Nude Boat was my first “nude event” outside of being nude for modeling. I haven’t even been to the Mazomanie Nude Beach that is “down the road a piece” (mostly because I’ve been told by regulars that “gawkers” go to the beach with their cell phones and snap photos). I wasn’t sure how being naked on board the cruise ship would go as I have cruised before and knew that the ships tend to be a wee bit chilly (this WAS a common complaint during the cruise). Would I be ridiculed for wearing clothes on board by the other passengers? Happily, I can report that derision was never an issue as I walked about the ship in my favorite hiking pants (with the legs zipped off), tank top and “dress hoodie”; later on I switched to a sarong. I wasn’t the only one who was clothed and I also wasn’t freezing to death.
So, how did I end up aboard the Big Nude Boat? Modeling and knowing people who know people. I was asked to model for four photography seminars and three photography workshops as well as give my own seminar, Modeling 101. Additionally, I was part of the “General Staff” of Bare Necessities, and having cruised on Carnival ships in the past came in very handy as many passengers asked me and my husband, Mr. Muse, how to get to various places within the ship. So, I modeled, I gave a seminar, I explained how to get from Point A to Point B (or walked people where they wanted to go) and also made the rounds on “Towel Duty”. If you just began following along and aren’t familiar with the nudist/naturist lifestyle – towels are a big part of it – everyone naked must sit on a towel.
Cruise ships spend a great deal of time putting together a program of events and happenings to keep their passengers entertained and this cruise was no exception. Bare Necessities also had a large variety of events, seminars and their own massage staff on board. Some events had to be prepaid, others were free, but from what I heard – all were well-attended. Events on board included costume contests for Mardi Gras and Oscar Night, complete with prizes. Bare Necessities also worked with Carnival to create clothing optional excursions in each of the ports; one of the tours we went on was not specifically marked “clothing optional” but tour operators allowed those on the tour to enjoy their pool clothing-free.
Our ship was due to set sail right when the Northeast was digging out from yet another winter storm and airports had shut down; Carnival actually chartered a plane to fly many guests to Cozumel, Mexico (our first port), to catch the ship due to them not being able to arrive on time. Kudos to you, Carnival, as you made a lot of people happy. We also set sail a little bit later than originally scheduled to try and allow some of those passengers on delayed flights to get on board in Fort Lauderdale; however, this did not set us back on time for the rest of the trip.
So what were my impressions of the cruise? I’ll be honest and say that it certainly takes some getting used to, seeing that many naked people as I ate my scrambled eggs the first morning on board. I have always been a bit of a germaphobe on cruise ships (Norovirus = NO BUENO), but on this one I was more so. Thank you Carnival for having Purell Hand Sanitizer around almost every corner (even though I think Triclosan is a frightening chemical, I made frequent use of the gel). Admittedly, seeing so many naked butts get scratched in the buffet line, and so many bared bellies gliding along the bars where trays would rest, caused me to be a bit OCD with my hand-washing and sanitizing as well as what I touched (and didn’t).
Eventually, I settled into the routine and all the flesh became “background” as I visited the buffet (I still didn’t want to see the butt-scratching and belly-gliding where food was being served). The attendees of the Big Nude Boat came in every shape, size and color. There were tattoos and body piercings, many on people I wouldn’t have suspected of body modification if I’d met them while they were wearing clothes. The passengers were mostly tried-and-true Nudists/Naturists, but there were people from a variety of camps: swingers, LGBT and first-timers (like Mr. Muse and myself). One third of the three thousand plus passengers had never cruised with Bare Necessities before!
The Carnival staff was fantastic (I’ve always had great luck with the staff from Carnival) and the fellow Bare Necessities staff members were also as diverse as the passengers and equally wonderful. I didn’t get to meet everyone on the General Staff, but those with whom I did spend time were great people who I hope to continue to get to know in the future. I also made a point to meet passengers and ask them about the cruise, their experience on board, if they considered themselves Nudists/Naturists, the whole shebang.
I met people who’d been in the Nudist/Naturist lifestyle for decades, some just for a few years and one lovely lady from Canada, who was traveling alone, who saw an ad for the cruise and thought it sounded interesting. She confessed that she only felt comfortable being nude when she was swimming or in the hot tub and so that’s all she was doing but she was having a great time on the ship. I found myself suddenly seeing that my view of the Nudist/Naturist lifestyle was much narrower than I originally thought, and my world was rocked. I might be a Nudist, Accidental or otherwise, if I like to skinny-dip or I’m just comfortable being naked around strangers (or friends) – even if it’s just modeling?
After my conversation with this lovely woman (I confess I have forgotten her name, I want to say it was Carrie. If you’re reading this, write me! You have my card!), I did a lot of reflecting. I relaxed. I mentally admonished myself for having what turned out to be a narrow focus on this lifestyle. This is also where I scrapped my original review.
I had, what I think I can call at this point, an epiphany. While I love my clothes and my shoes, and kept my clothes on during the cruise to keep from freezing to death, the tongue-in-cheek attitude can be removed from my blog post written all those weeks ago, for I truly am the Accidental Nudist.