Published on October 26, 2021

After being couped up by pandemic, we were ready to sail

By Shirley Prihoda
The Bulletin

Over the last 18 months, Carnival Cruise Lines has been the poster child for optimism with each email encouraging cruisers to purchase a trip now and be ready when the “go” was given to resume sailing.

I was ready!

As the months dragged on, the same destinations that were common before, now beckoned anew to forget your troubles and your waistline. Pictures of idyllic blue seas were as predictable as my cardiologist’s direction to lose those pounds from that very same waistline.

And then it happened! The Carnival Vista was coming to Galveston for a seven-day cruise to the Caribbean. The price was amazing, and with giddy abandon, I booked it!

My husband was off doing what husbands do, and when he returned, covered in dirt from tilling our little piece of paradise, I proudly announced we were going on a cruise.

He stood there, dropping dirt and lawn clippings all over the just-swept floor, and I didn’t care. To seal the deal, I told him the Visa card had flown out of my wallet at a speed not traceable by radar. He simply smiled in the way only he can do, sort of patronizing with a healthy mixture of never knowing what I am going to do next look and saying O.K.

The countdown began. As the days until departure decreased, the Delta Variant increased. During those days of not knowing what tomorrow may hold, I symbolically held my breath like the Great Wallenda’s tightrope walk across the Grand Canyon, while anxiously looking to see if a strong wind was coming. It was.

Hurricane Ida decided the Gulf of Mexico looked inviting and chose to come for a visit. Our friends love us despite the things we do. They probably don’t feel the liberty to express their feelings, but our kids certainly DID!

They disagreed with our decision to sail into a storm. But when you’re desperate to see something other than the all-too-familiar, you can’t shake the dust off the suitcases fast enough.

With the day of departure approaching, it was time to dig the cruise clothes from the back of the closet. Who would have thought the previous 18 months and those 20 pounds the cardiologist so fondly mentioned on my last visit would suddenly take center stage?

The pink ruffled pants I wear on Formal Night had obviously shrunk while hanging in the back of the closet. Just to be sure that the shrinking was not widespread, I dug deeper into the overfilled closet.

At last, I extracted the bathing suit from its hiding place. Sadly, it too had succumbed to the dreaded shrinking disease.

A store in Brazos Mall had what seemed an acceptable option, a one-piece with black and white polka dots - with ruffles. It was perfect. I proudly displayed my find to my husband, noting not only does it have polka dots and ruffles, but it was also on sale, which is one of my two most favorite four-letter words! The other being “free.”

The day finally arrived, and we lugged two suitcases large enough to hide a family of four inside and headed for Galveston. We wandered around the ship until our luggage finally arrived and began the unpacking process. This is a feat that should be acknowledged with a Gold Medal if you can get two people’s clothes into an 18” closet.

With that feat finally accomplished, without a medal ceremony I might add, we headed to the dining room to be served like kings - although kings of a small, nondescript country, but nonetheless, kings! After a full six-course meal and feeling like the female version of Humpty Dumpty, we donned swimwear and headed to the hot tub. All went well until I got into the hot bubbling water. Those ruffles that were so cute on the hanger now floated up covering my face with black and white polka dots.

With my annual Cardiology appointment approaching, it’s time to lose those 20 pounds - and the five more that joined them from the cruise.

Sugar-free Dr. Pepper BBQ Sauce


6 oz. Diet Dr. Pepper
2 Cups Sugar-free Ketchup
1 Cup Swerve-brand Brown Sugar
1 Tablespoon Worcestershire Sauce
½ Teaspoon Liquid Smoke
½ Teaspoon Smoked Paprika
1 Teaspoon Coarse Salt
1 Teaspoon Chili Powder
½ Teaspoon Garlic Powder
1 Teaspoon Onion Powder
Black Pepper


Combine the ingredients in a saucepan and whisk to combine. Place over medium-high heat, stirring often until the mixture just starts to bubble.

Lower heat and simmer for 5 minutes. Store in an airtight container in the refrigerator until ready to serve.

(To contact Shirley, please send emails to john.bulletin@gmail.com or write to The Bulletin, PO Box 2426, Angleton, Tx. 77516)