The Best Parts of My Government-sponsored Cruise

Ah deployment.

The inevitable torture that all military service members will face at some point in their career. For me the countdown to deployment started before I even left A-school. As soon as I was told where I was being stationed and what squadron I would be attached to, I knew they were about to leave on a 9-month government-sponsored cruise.

Instead of stressing about joining a new command, my 1st command, I was completely preoccupied with stressing about having to live on a floating city with a bunch of strangers. Looking back now I have to laugh. As much as I built up the deployment as a scary thing in my head, in reality it was actually quite a memorable experience. I mean, let’s just take a moment and talk about all the amazing things that deployment brings…

First up is the food.

In 9 months I was off the ship less than 20 days so I’m not talking about the great bread in France or paella in Palma. I’m talking about the mystery food that appeared on the chow line every day. While meal hours stay the same every day, you never knew what you were going to find when it was finally time to eat.

Some days there was brown sauce-covered meat that could have been pork, could have been chicken, and other days there was pizza made of cheese slices melted on a tortilla. And who wouldn’t want to stand in a 3-hour line for Thanksgiving turkey? Oh wait, that was me. Thanksgiving beef jerky and a strawberry pop-tart was just as good as anything I could find in the chow halls.

There was some good food on the ship. Every now and again we would get to the front of the chow line to find lobster tails and crab legs. Or even the occasional Sunday ice cream party hosted by the higher ranking enlisted folks. The first time I saw those things I was shocked! And all too happy to actually eat a meal that the ship prepared. But quickly I learned my lesson.

If we had great food, it was bribery food. Bad news always followed great meals. Possible extension…ice cream! Port visits changed because of bad weather conditions…lobster! We’re going to make it home on time after all…mystery meat.