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Thursday, May 14, 2009

Cruisin' On A Sunday Afternoon

Okay, here we go with the long-awaited, much anticipated, and more than likely disappointing posts about my vacation. This was my first cruise and I gotta say, it's an entirely different way of life. In fact, I'm considering starting another blog devoted to helping first-time cruisers work their way through the system. I like the name "Fat White Lady's Guide To Cruises" and possibly going with an alter-ego, like Sunburn Susie. We'll see.

Five years ago, for our fifth wedding anniversary, we did absolutely nothing. I think we might have kissed each other for an extra second to mark the occasion but otherwise, very lack luster. That's when I started saying that for our 10th anniversary, we would take a cruise. So five years later, I was combing through the cruise deals and trying to narrow down my choices. I was campaigning for an Alaskan cruise because - let's be honest, here - I look much better in a parka than I do in a swimming suit. The Man wasn't sold on the idea and the shore excursions (that's cruise-speak for trips you make to land to do something other than bake yourself on the deck of the ship or visit the self-serve ice cream stations) were pretty lame or very expensive. Then I found Carnival Cruises. They were reasonable and had some fantastic choices for port trips. My one stipulation? No Mexico stops. I was utterly paranoid and the whole "drug cartel wars" made me nervous (and don't bother trying to reassure me...I am completely irrational). Turned out to be a very good thing because, thanks to swine flu outbreaks, all Mexico ports of call were canceled. So hooray for anxiety attacks!

Grandma G came to stay with the littles and we were on our way! The Man booked us onto a red-eye flight to NYC, where we would fly all night and then hop on a plane down to Florida. I think both of us kinda glossed over the fact that it is impossible to get decent sleep on an airplane. If it wasn't for the constant excitement about finally getting on the boat, I might have been dead on my feet. Our boat left from Fort Lauderdale. For some insane reason, we had to follow other cruisers around in a line for nearly two hours before they let us on the boat. Ri. Dic. Ulous. But we finally crossed the gangway and were on deck! Before we could jump up and down, squealing with glee, it was time for muster. This is where all passengers must get their life jackets from their cabins and then meet in assigned locations for an emergency drill. It's mandatory, people. They check your rooms and herd you out of all other parts of the ship for this. Afterwards, you are free to behave like self-centered jerks but for now, listen up.

While not quite mandatory, nearly everyone heads to the Lido deck (the main deck) to watch the ship leave port. Once you leave the city behind, there's not much to see. No dolphins frolicking in the surf or whales breaching the surface. There aren't even any strange fish floating around. Just water. And maybe some seaweed.

But here are a couple other things that I learned right away:
1) The ship's photographers like take your picture. Frequently. Even when you're eating.
2) The bar service people are always asking if you'd like something from the bar. "Sir, I see you've just come from the restroom. Perhaps you'd like to work on refilling that bladder with one of our specialty drinks in a nifty souvenir glass?"

Now, the ship tries to sell you the pictures but of course, you don't have to buy them. There's even handy recycling bins for the ones where you look cross-eyed. These photos make cute reminders of your trip. Unless of course you are me and have never been accused of being photogenic. We did get lots of pictures taken because I really wanted one to mark the occasion. Never bought one. I tend to forget that I am rather portly. *sigh*

As for the constant flow of booze, some people declare that this is their favorite part of going on a cruise. We certainly met a few people who seemed bent on drowning themselves in pineapple juice, vodka, and fresh fruit skewers. Our boat offered a bucket of beers. Seriously. A large white bucket filled with ice and bottles of your preferred beer. Since we don't imbibe, we purchased Fountain Cards. These are usually pro-rated (ours was $5.50 per person per day) and are good for your endless fountain drinks or juice during your entire cruise. If you don't want to pay, you can always partake of the self-serve water, tea, coffee and lemonade stations. Those are free (but not always completely stocked). (And by "free," I mean you've already paid for it in the price of your ticket.)

Okay, this post is getting rather long and we've only just left port...so stayed tuned for our first stop: Key West, Florida!

What beverage would you like to have a bucket of?


Kristina P. said...

Diet Coke!

I have never taken a cruise either, and I would love to for our next anniversary.

Emma said...

Chocolate milk!

Amanda said...

I am hooked. Great commentary.

I don't think I could ever go on a cruise....sounds claustrophobic and I have titanic running through my head. If I traveled while my kids were little I defiantly envision myself dying and leaving them alone. I am neurotic. I want a beach vacation. With a wonderful room that opens to a white sand beach with clear blue water...and all we do is enjoy that all week. No sched. no other trips except to eat or shop:) Maybe by our 20th we *might* get to do something like that. SOrry for the rant! Hubby has been out of town and need someone, anyone to talk to:)

SO said...

I love it! I would love to go on a cruise but I am a bit leery of it because I don't do really well on water unless I have motion sickness meds. I hear it's different on a big cruise though.

Um I would like a bucket of ice water. (actually I would like Coke but I have to go off of it.)

Janell said...

Yup, that sounds pretty equivalent to the cruise I went on a few years ago. (With the exception that I went to Alaska and the ridiculous 2 hours lines were preceded by a 4 hour bus trip which was preceded by a 5 hour flight.)

It was the shore excursions, however, that made my trip absolutely awesome. Sitting around on the boat watching the scenery was nice, the food was great, but I really liked that nearly every morning I'd wake up in a new place with something exciting to do.

Jessica said...

My family did a cruise when I was in HS and loved it. Hubby and I are trying to find a time to go on one together.

I want a bucket of pina coladas. Vacation is the only time I get to drink them and they are taaaasty. (Virgin of course)

Brooke said...

Raspberry Ice Crystal Light but I would need a guarantee that I wouldn't spill and stain my clothes and I would stain my skin (yes, it is true, I get little red stains around my lips, but it's oh so good.) You could through in a couple pina coladas too every now and then.

Nat said...

Rootbeer! it sounds like a fun trip1 I can't wait to hear the rest! Our tenth anniversary is next year. We sould do something exciting, too. We'll see...

Kristie said...

I am loving all the details! Sounds like a great trip so far. I can't wait to read the rest! :)

Rupper Family said...

I too am thinking about a cruise so the more you share, the better. I want to know though, do you have the same servers every day? Do you tip daily or at the end of the trip? Is it really all you can eat? How many restaurants are there on board? What is there to keep you busy on the cruise ship? Were you worried about rogue waves (I watch too much Discovery channel), how expensive are the day trips and are any added into the cruise cost? And, if you had it to do over, would you do it again?

Kelly said...

Dr. Pepper please.

I forgot to tell you (I found it in the fine print) you can take a small cooler onboard with soft drinks. Neither Brett or I had to purchase any soft drinks while on the cruise. We had enough to last us:)
You can also take one bottle of wine per person for embarkment. Since I don't drink wine, Brett got both :)

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