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Kidsday: Cruising with my new friends

Odelia Hartl,14, left, of Palos Verdes,Calif., left, Arica

Odelia Hartl,14, left, of Palos Verdes,Calif., left, Arica Cykiert, 16, of Farmington Hills, Mich., and Kidsday reporter Laura Fallick, 14, of East Northport get emotional on their last night together, Feb. 25, 2012, after meeting on their weeklong Caribbean cruise on the Celebrity Solstice. ( March 2012) Credit: Handout

During the February break, I went on a cruise with my family to the Western Caribbean. I went on the Celebrity Solstice, a resplendent ship with food to die for.

Since I'm a teenage girl, I didn't want to spend most of the cruise hanging out with my parents. The ship had a teen club. I was leaning toward not going because I'm very shy and awkward when I meet new people. My parents always tell me to try new things. They're the ones who persuaded me to go to the club. This is one of the times where listening to my parents benefited me. The teen club, called X Club, was the best experience of my life.

The first event at the club was on the first night of the cruise. I was very nervous, thinking that people wouldn't want to talk to me. To my surprise, I made at least six friends during the scavenger hunt. During the seven days, I made so many friends. I spent most of my time either at the club or with my new friends.

When it was almost the last day, I made a new friend, Odelia. We were so much alike, even though she lived on the other side of the United States, in California. We've become best friends. I met another friend, Arica, with whom I also became very close. Odelia, Arica (who lives in Michigan) and I have spoken every day since we docked. I feel like we've known each other forever.

On the last night, it was torture for us. We became so close, and it felt horrible knowing we probably would never see each other again. We cried and laughed together -- we were practically inseparable.

I'd like to give some advice to kids going on a cruise, vacation or just at home. If there's a teen club or hangout, try it. I feel this experience was life-changing. I now know I should listen to my parents when they tell me to try new things. Maybe they are smarter than I am after all.

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