The Big Nude Boat
I got as naked as you can safely get with an ostomy and ventured out onto the deck. Having an ostomy ensures you are never truly naked except possibly in the shower if you are willing to play chicken with your output. Many of us also have scars so this is an experience that never entered my mind post ostomy surgery and pre ostomy I would have been too self conscious about stretch marks and cellulite to consider it. So in my wildest dreams I never thought I would experience this let alone be writing about it. But, without it I don’t think I would have been brave enough to be as open as I am now. Also we just booked our second clothing optional cruise on The Big Nude Boat in 2019, so I thought I’d share the first experience with you.
Mind out of the gutter please…
First up let me make it very clear, my husband and I are not swingers nor was this cruise a swinger’s event. Secondly, it’s a clothing optional cruise which means you can choose to wear or not wear clothes. Thirdly, towels are a requirement at all times when naked as are clothes in the dining rooms, although this is open to interpretation by the person wearing the clothes, so we did see a lot of fishnet and I’m not talking stockings. And last but not least, if you ever want to gain some confidence take yourself off to one of these cruises, any inhibitions you may have about your own body will have dissipated by the end of the cruise. I am however getting ahead of myself.
How did I go from crying in front to the mirror to getting my kit off on a boat with 2,500 other nude people or naturalists as they like to call themselves you may ask? Well it’s easy - timing; a passion for travel; and willingness to step out of my comfort zone. I had previously gone on a cruise with my sister through the South Pacific and absolutely loved it. There was always something fun to do with 24 hours a day food and entertainment, not to mention housekeeping. What’s not to love? Since then I had been trying to sell the idea of a cruise to my husband, who is not fond of large crowds or anywhere his computer isn’t.
Hubby found a cruise…
Eventually I gave up on the idea, so when he told me he had been looking at cruises for our next holiday I was shocked to say the least. He had found a good one too, one that left from Tampa in Florida and went through the Caribbean which also meant I could add in a few US states, something I had been aching to do since I missed my opportunity back in 07 due to surgery.
New York, Washington DC, Disneyworld and Universal studios here we come, my excitement took over and I was sold. So when he told me the catch that it was a clothing optional cruise, as in a nude cruise the pros still outweighed the cons and I booked it that night, before I had the chance to chicken out.
My husband doesn’t like wearing clothes, I just wanted to go on a cruise… Win win right…
The next few months were taken up with planning the US side of the trip, hotels, flights and theme park tickets etc. It wasn’t until everything was booked and paid for that the enormity of what I had done set it. I had just willingly signed myself up to get naked in front of people I didn’t know, not that I ever got my kit off in front of people I did know, other than my hubby of course. The months leading up to the trip was full of turbulent feelings of you can do this to what were you thinking. It’s one thing walking around your own house naked but this was a whole different story.
What does one pack for a nude cruise?
The time came and I packed my ostomy supplies, along with the stuff we needed to survive the three weeks in the US prior to the cruise and very little else. The time spent in the US prior to the cruise were amazing, exhausting and chilly. Trying to pack so much into so little time gave me no time to think about the logistics of the cruise until we were in line with hundreds of other soon to be naked people.
They all looked as normal as my husband and I, dressed for the weather and a mixture of excitement from some and nerves from others. Registration was easy and clothing was required when in port so the first few hours went by like a normal cruise, checking out our stateroom, the eating areas and listening to safety demonstrations before disembarking.
Half in, Half out
Once the port was behind us, the cruise director came over the loud speakers declaring clothes were no longer required. We were hiding in our state room at this time and a little anxious about opening the door and what we may be confronted with. Given it was clothing optional I decided I needed a little longer to get used to the idea before baring anything, so we both ventured out with clothes on to see what we had signed up for.
There were about forty of us out of the 2,500 that were under the age of forty and this included the models and video crew so with or without my ostomy and my husband’s ringlets we were going to be easily recognisable. There were people in all stages of undress, from fully clothed through to completely naked. After a what felt like forever but was probably only 15 minutes of walking around the ship we headed back to the cabin to give our eyes time to process everything we had seen.
We both flopped on the bed as we let out a giggle we had been holding onto since seeing two gentlemen playing ping-pong on the entertainment deck. We agreed that we may not be as adult enough for this as we continued to giggle like children would over the word fart. Once we pulled ourselves together and reassured each other that we looked as normal if not fitter than the masses we ventured out again. My husband in full ship attire and me while still terrified, went topless with my ostomy securely tucked into my shorts.
I officially went fully nude three times on the cruise, the first of which was on an island privately owned by the cruise line. We had a seven hour stop and I debated with myself for the first four of them.
Should I? Shouldn’t I? What will people think of my ostomy? They have already seen your ostomy…
The list goes on. Even after all that I started crying soon after getting naked. I can’t explain why I cried or the exact feelings but my mind went through a range of thoughts and emotions and often when I get overwhelmed with emotions, I cry. My husband brought me back to reality by first telling me how proud he was of me and then informing me that they were probably checking out my hot body if they were looking our way at all. That made me laugh, stop crying and gave me a moment to feel proud of how far I had come in such a short period of time.
Let it all hang out…
My favourite evening on the boat by far had to be the under the sea theme. It was hilarious and the creativity of some people still astounds me, the body paint work was the best with one gentleman painted as an octopus with one loose tentacle while another bloke was painted head to toe as a pirate and you will never guess what his sword was. I had to laugh when we came across one gentleman that had flashing lights adorning his man region. You get good at keeping eye contact on these things but add flashing anything and your eyes are drawn too it...
Although I enjoyed my time naked I still chose to wear pants the majority of the time. The most liberating thing I found was no need for underwear and I felt no shame. Whilst I was the only ostomate I saw on the cruise, there were people of all shapes, sizes, nationalities, political and religious beliefs all with their own scars to bear and stories to tell.
I had honestly thought cruise boats are full of old people, surely I wasn’t going to be the only one with an ostomy?
There was no body shaming and no judgement, it really is hard to judge someone who is naked. In the clothed world we can generalise about a person, take away their clothes it becomes a whole lot harder. Which means to get to know anyone you need to interact and talk with them. Which is confronting at first and always best approached from the same level, either both standing or both sitting, the other arrangements are made somewhat more difficult by the lack of clothing.
This aside, we did meet some amazing people who are part of the reason we have re-booked for 2019. We are planning to reconnect with them. One of these lovely ladies is featured throughout this blog as I wasn't brave enough to take photos the first time round. This brings me to the other reason we are going back. I don't believe I gave my full heart to this adventure until it was too late, so rather than live with regret I will repeat the experience and learn from my prior inhibitions.
Not your thing…
Now I really do understand if this is not your type of thing. I can understand if you are not at the stage of baring it all in front of your partner let alone a ship full of strangers. It's took me ten years, a love for cruising, a passion for travel and the willingness to compromise to get me here so don’t think this is where you need to be. However, you do need to know anything is possible and you can experience new things and live the life you always wanted.