Going Bare Foot All Over: My First Nude Cruise

On my first morning sailing to Hawaii on a clothing-optional cruise, I couldn’t decide what to wear. It was a cloudy, breezy day on the Pacific and too cold for me to be naked. I worried, “Would wearing a bathrobe or sarong to breakfast make me stick out?” Being my first nude cruise, I wanted to blend in. That morning I learned an important rule from my fellow nude recreationists, be comfortable and be yourself. At breakfast I found all states of dress and undress. More importantly, over the next two weeks on-board I found it easy to be myself, dressed or not–and the sun did come out!

I was invited on this 20th anniversary Bare Necessity cruise by Tom and Nancy, the founders, who wanted to offer their 2,000 plus passengers quality learning experiences during the eight days at sea going and returning to Hawaii. I could hardly believe myself–an invitation to teach sacred, sensual embodiment to naked people while sailing to Paradise! I figured my frank, positive talks on sex would fall on good ears (or buns!) on this trip.

My first lecture was on sex and aging, and I was having trouble picturing myself naked on stage with a microphone in my hand. From the podium I watched the sea of mostly naked bodies, a couple hundred or more, file into the ship’s auditorium. Everyone carried a towel to put between their butt and the seat cushion following the universal nudist etiquette, or UNdress Code. I smiled. Aren’t you supposed to imagine your audience naked before you speak in order to put yourself at ease? Wearing a silk Indian sarong my mother gave just before my cruise, I succumbed to my uncontrollable urge to ‘flash’ my audience. Now how many speakers can brag about doing that?! Laughing, someone from the audience piped up, “How many of us can say we’ve ever been flashed by a speaker?!” The ice was broken!

During the talk I asked these seasoned nude cruisers for their insights for my next book, Sexy Aging: Stories of How Loving Gets Better. Being sixty, savvy and feeling sexy, I shared how my journey to more pleasure and intimacy has increased with age. I posed them questions, “What do you enjoy about your loving now that you didn’t experience when you were younger?” “How has sex changed as you’ve aged?” “What advice might you give a young person today about enjoying sex as they age?” I felt like Oprah running around with a microphone following their lively responses, except my guests stood up stark naked. We relished how aging allows us to slow up, express more, and go deeper. “Now I have time to enjoy my erections!” “Now I feel my orgasm, not just in my genitals, but throughout my entire body and into my partner.” “My wife loosing a kidney has made our loving more precious than ever.”

Later I lead a large group in a tantra puja called Playful Touch in Paradise.  We gifted each other with imaginary pearls, whispered appreciations in each other’s ears, danced like dolphins, invited Sirens out to play, and graced each another with safe, heartfelt, sensual but non-sexual touch. Group play is magical. Each of us, supported by safe and conscious community, embraces our humanity and freedom.

As a single person among mainly couples, I was warmed by the abundance of camaraderie and inclusion. Strangers welcomed me to their dinner tables, and I met new folks easily at the pools, sauna and hot tubs. It seemed these people had shed more than their clothes for the journey–they’d left behind position, rank, defenses, and ego that keeps us separated and apart. From the onset, I experienced a communal warmth that invited open-hearted conversation and camaraderie, often about meaningful and intimate subjects. Your body size, shape or age didn’t seem to matter. Several women had only one breast, other passengers where in wheel chairs or on oxygen.

On this cruise I discovered unadorned pleasure. We came together to enjoy rather than to judge, to share rather than to perform, to show up rather than to show off. I snorkeled naked with the fish, played bare-bodied on the beach, did naked yoga on sea sprayed rocks, and nestled my bare body in moss covered rocks under trickling fresh water. In my life drawing class on the boat we drew the nude, nude. Go figure! In dance class we let it all hang out doing the salsa and meringue. Have you ever listened to a string quartet…naked? Many times I heard, ‘”Once you’ve experience a nude cruise, you’ll never go on a textile cruise again.”

When I was a girl I remember how good the grass felt between my toes on a summer day, cool and inviting. On this vacation I discovered how good it feels to go barefoot all over my body in the joyful company of other caring and respectful adults.

5 thoughts on “Going Bare Foot All Over: My First Nude Cruise”

  1. Charla,

    Your memory as a girl of how good the grass felt between your toes on a summer day, cool and inviting, reminded me of the feeling I had with my first visit in January 1970 to the Esalen Institute, Big Sur, CA, where I walked and rolled nude on the spacious three-inch thick luxuriant lawn between the lodge dining room and the cliff-edge swimming pool overlooking the Pacific Ocean. The experience was one of full communion with Mother Nature.

  2. Charla,
    Your story about he nude cruise was sensually wonderful. I can attest to the truthfulness /authenticity and getting bare can bring. Every life should be full of such awesome experiences.

  3. My wife is very reserved, very religious but is OK to be naked if others are as well.
    I am way more kinky and would love to have an audience every time if she would allow it.
    There have been a few times when she got pretty drunk here in Hawaii at a nude beach when we made love beside other couples.
    It was VERY erotic and I hope to be able to get her there again but she felt like it was immoral to share it beside others. She has received a few erotic massages but each tiem she says that was her last.
    Basically, if she gets enough booze in her, she looses her inhibitions but without booze, she is almost prude and it frustrates me.
    Any suggestions for a vacation that can open her eyes to the fact that naked is not immoral, side by side is not immoral, even mutual massages with othes is not immoral.
    I hope to get her to realize that as long as someone else is not swapping with us, it si just relaxing and drawing me closer to ehr but I fear that if she keeps saying no, my frustrations will build up and go in another direction.
    Any suggestions?

    1. Yes, nude cruising is a great way and non sexual to meet open, and like-minded folks. I teach tantra on some sude cruises and find the people wonderful, respectful and adventuresome. Charla

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