A non-nudist fears the worst aboard a Bare Necessities cruise. Instead, she finds new friends and freedoms. While they're not for everyone, her top takeaways will most definitely raise eyebrows.
The first thing to know: You won't feel fat
You’d think showing it all, or even some of it, would expose what your inner critic calls your “problem areas” — and that this might make you feel unattractive. Give yourself about two hours and you’ll find the opposite. Clothes are evil. You wouldn’t have a muffin top if it weren’t for jeans. Lose the bra and say goodbye to back bulges. Why do you think artists prefer painting their subjects au natural?
10. Nudists love costume parties
When I received the Bare Necessities’ Big Nude Cruise itinerary, I was surprised to find Oscar night and Mardi Gras theme parties, among others. How does one wear and not wear a costume? (For the Oscar party, a friend suggested I attend as Rose from Titanic, and I did, with a replica necklace from Etsy.com). Turns out, you must dress for dinner, and for theme parties, you wear as much or as little clothing as you like.
9. Down there, less is more when it comes to grooming
I figured more hair would act as a curtain, giving me a bit of privacy, but my waxer figured otherwise. And thank goodness — I would’ve stood out big time. But even that would be OK; nobody is more accepting than a nudist.
8. It’s usually his idea — at first
Of the dozens of couples I met, only one pair shared that going nude was her idea. But get this: After a twosome had become comfortable in a nudist environment, it was her who was hooked. Total body acceptance is something most women don’t get elsewhere.
7. Nudists don’t look a certain way
Unlike how you can peg a crafter from a record snob from a tech geek, nudists look about as similar to one another as all the people who like caramel.
6. It’s hard to start a conversation with a nudist
Don’t get me wrong — it’s not that they’re not nice. It’s that they’re not wearing T-shirts from Telluride or Lakers jerseys. At first glance, your only commonality is that you’re both naked, so you find yourself asking and being asked, “Where are you from?” Which, as it turns out, is really nice. I travel alone a lot and people don’t often strike up conversations with me. On the Big Nude Cruise, I found myself laughing everywhere from the elevator to the lunch line for noodles.
5. You don’t have to be a swinger to be a nudist
In fact, the overwhelming majority of folks I met were not swingers. They were wholesome couples looking to add innocent spice to their relationship. My reaction tended toward “aw” not “ew.” At the end of the cruise, I couldn’t decide if I was relieved or disappointed that I hadn’t been propositioned.
4. People have back-up plans
If the idea of a few days with nudists makes you nervous, know that you’re not alone. I met several people traveling alone for their first nude vacation, and they admitted having formulated emergency strategies — i.e. flying home from the first destination in case they didn’t feel comfortable. When I asked Nancy Tiemann, president of Bare Necessities, about this, she nodded, then shared this: "Nobody has ever walked off one of our cruises."
3. It’s not a free-for-all
There are rules — official and implied — to make everyone more comfortable. An example of an official rule is that body contact isn’t allowed on the nightclub dance floor, and staff will enforce this. An implied rule is one your mother taught you: Staring isn’t polite.
2. Nudists don’t complain
I figured nudists would be like everyone else I meet at resorts: People who pass judgment on the coffee, sheet thread count, etc. In 10 days on a ship with 2,800 passengers, I heard two complaints. Two.
1. Nudists have the key to happiness
It could be that they don’t complain because they’re happier than your average person. A study led by Matthew A. Killingsworth, Ph.D., and Daniel T. Gilbert, Ph.D., revealed that most people aren’t focusing on the present moment 47 percent of the time. And happiness can only be experienced in the moment. Perhaps the greatest gift of the nude lifestyle is that, with each breeze, dip in the hot tub or mere glance downward, we can’t help but remember to live in the moment.