The Case of the Caribbean “Party Cruise”
by Maria Dowd

Afew summers back, a girlfriend and I treated ourselves to a wonderful Caribbean cruise. It was filled with 2,500 Black folks who had worked hard all year long to treat themselves to this annual week-long voyage on “the party cruise ship.”

My girlfriend and I are both “carry-on chicks,” each with one overhead-compartment-sized suitcase and a normal sized tote (not a suitcase disguised as a tote) – Desiree is a “vacuum-sealer,” and me a “tight roller.”

We played hard. Each day was packed with activities in the sun and on the surf, mixed with loads of socializing, old school concerts and savoir faire.

On day six, we begrudgingly dragged ourselves into the overly-air conditioned, darkened theater to receive our disembark instructions. What could have been a boring litany of do’s and don’ts, it was anything but that.

Surprisingly, our darling, chocolate-colored cruise director was a closet stand-up comedian. For the next hour, his directives were sprinkled with witty cracks about the nuisances of our particular group. And, with an impressive level of finesse, he talked about us bad.

This ship was filled with roughly 1,500 black women and 1,000 black men who, according to our cruise director, ate and lugged two times – yes, 2x more food and 2x clothes than our European counterparts. These stats made me wonder – what are the stories (and psychology) behind the double-downing of grub (and potentially more food waste), and packing far more shoes (and potentially more shopping that preceded travel day) than the number of days at sea?

And, of course, texture-haired women have other layers of considerations to ponder pre-travel…humidity and water frolick…which adds weight to luggage, including the full range of full-sized hair care products, plus “hats” (of both straw and human hair varieties) and electrical heating devices. Imagine all of this times 1,500 female heads of hair. This is real, Mr. (chocolate) Cruise Director. You know better.

Is there a lesson or two to take away here, or do girls (and boys) just wanna have some dang fun in the sun, for heaven’s sakes?

Is there a little psychology around “getting our money’s worth,” which translates to piling more food on our plates? Even if all of it isn’t eaten?

Is it possible that there are far more single women on “the party cruise,” who wouldn’t be caught looking less than fabulous… and the (subconscious) hope of meeting their dream mate? Does having two or more choices per event improve the odds?

What about the huge psychology women of color manage day-to-day — now we’re talking being away from our home salons for several days — around our ability to freely “let our hair out” (note that “down” is typically not an option without a host of aids). Even with my natural hair, I need my stuff for frizz control. Ironic, right?

Or, shall we simply resolve that I’m overthinking this (which I’ve been known to do), and that vacations are not the time to count the number of outfits we pack, or the number of calories we pack on? And, there are not any psychological or emotional triggers in play here – that fuel our “vaca” consumption of food and clothing habits.

…just a little food for thought…this pun was very much intended.

Also, check out 5 Keys to Transforming Your Money Management Habits: Train Your Brain to Make Wiser Spending and Borrowing Decisions , which touches on our emotional/psychological relationship with money, and our motivations around the choices we make.

What resonated…and what didn’t? Share your thoughts and comments with other My Amazing LYFE community members at

Maria Dowd is a motivational speaker and chief catalyst for women’s empowerment. Her mission is to deliver LYFE solutions that disrupt and ignite your core… to live with boldness and grace daily. Maria’s My Amazing LYFE lifestyle brand of enriching programs, tools and events, holistically and methodically advances women’s self-awareness self-activism self-care and self-love. On-going and supported SELF-work inspires greater well-being, healing and transformation. Visit for free tools, resources and community. LYFE: Live. Your. Freedom. Every Day!