I remember when my dad came home from deployment he was always so skinny his uniforms were sagging off him like it was cool. My sister was so worried about him not eating she tried to box up all of our leftovers and send them to him. Turns out that there was nothing to worry about. It was just the deployment diet. Between the stellar food and the amazing amount of time you have to do nothing other than work out, everyone came out of our deployment in tip top shape.

The last 45 days of my deployment I didn’t even have to go to one of the gyms and fight for a treadmill or elliptical to stay in fighting form. I was lucky enough to get to go cranking. For those that are wondering what the heck that is, cranking is when new Sailors are selected from their commands to go work in the galleys, the ship stores, the MWR office or, if you’re really lucky, in the trash burn areas.

My cranking duty took me to the ship store where I got to know the ship inside and out as I located every storeroom and carried boxes and cases of food, toiletries and drinks from one end of our floating city to the other. I really should have had a Fitbit back then. I know I would have been racking up steps like crazy.

All of that daily running around leads me to my next perk of deployment. When you’re that exhausted after carrying box #204 up two ladder wells, across three hangar bays, and back down three more ladder walls all you want is a hot shower and to hit the rack. Lucky for me I know all about the benefits of ice cold showers on your hair and skin because on any given day it was a great unknown on if there would be enough hot water to shave (which let’s face it, you don’t really need to do since you’re never in shorts and no one is feeling up your legs anyhow) or if you would be taking a polar plunge without the benefits of raising money for the charity of your choice.

And racking out was great. I got to learn what it feels like to be married to a vampire! Our sleeping quarters are so tight you can’t help but replay that old saying “snug as a bug in a rug” every time you lie down and let the ship rock you to sleep. Oh, and the red lights that illuminate the place offer a real ambiance to the environment. It casts all the drying towels and Navy issue rack curtains in such a romantic glow you can’t help but want to try it in your own home once you get your boots back on dry land.

After all that, the great food, the free gym, the skin brightening showers and wonderful sleeping accommodations, how could anyone not rush out and sign up for the next big government-sponsored cruise? I mean, it really is a once in a lifetime trip!

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