Several months ago my husband and I were awarded a free cruise just for turning up at some kind of promotional meeting.  This five day cruise was out of Galveston, Texas, and heading for Cozumel, Mexico.  We left November 30th, and are just now back home.  First, let me tell you that those cruise commercials showing slim, suntanned people lounging in serene bliss IS A LIE.  You think you are going to relax on a cruise.  Not true.  Cruise boats are basically filled with people of all sizes, colors, and ages who need Ritalin.  And they all drink alcohol in vast quantities.  NO ONE rests.  Oh yes, there was a ‘Serenity Deck’ packed with sleeping people, but I don’t think they were resting.  I think they were still passed out from the night before.

Cruise lines give themselves such descriptive names like Royal Caribbean, Norwegian, or Princess.  And they give their boats names like Crown, Diamond, Star, Oasis, Radiance, or Sovereign.  We sailed on none of those.  We sailed on the . . .

We had never cruised before.  Which will become obvious as this blog progresses.

First, you pull into the Cruise Lines’ terminal to off-load your luggage.  You are allowed two cases per person and all the carry-on luggage you can tote without having a stroke.  In our younger days, Randy and I knew how to travel light.  One suitcase for both of us.  Now, as old people, we pack everything we own.  Everything except the recliner.  You never know when you’ll need that fifth pair of shoes, or an oscillating fan.

I think two of those suitcases aren’t ours.  Those two little ones on the bottom.  No, wait.  The one on the right is ours.

Then you park in one of their lots, and take a shuttle back to the terminal to wait for your cattle call.  Then, once summoned, all one billion of us get herded one-by-one to the counter to fill out a questionnaire about our health.  Once they are satisfied that we aren’t bringing Ebola into Mexico, we are all herded onboard, via zigzagging ramps, passing a young Croatian photographer who poses us in front of backdrop of the Carnival Ecstasy.  I thought that the photos were taken so officials can identify potential terrorists when the boat explodes at sea.  Randy, having found out that passengers have been known to disappear on cruises, assumed that the photos were to be used in corpse identification when a fisherman snags a bloater.  We never even thought that the photos were to be offered later as souvenirs.   

Then, once onboard, we are all herded onto the Lido deck, a deck running the length and width of the ship.  Part of it is open air, swimming pool, and bar, the other part is indoor buffet.  Calypso music is playing and little Indonesian men in shorts mingle with their drink trays.  I’m being literal.  They really are little Indonesian men in shorts.  And they all look 12. 

Of course I bought a drink.  (No.  They aren’t free.)

Then, while eating a buffet lunch, you wait until the boat casts off.  No one is allowed into their cabin until the early afternoon.  This is to allow the crews to clean and restock the cabins, and deliver everyone’s luggage. 

Here, Randy is trying to figure out where our cabin was located.  It turned out that we were on the ‘R deck’ – or Riviera Deck in the bowels of the ship.  Think Irish on the Titanic.  I was grateful, though, since the lowest cabins on the inside of the ship are the most stable.   

First, let me say that I knew that cruise boats are big.  But I had no idea how big.  And I had no idea how intimidated I was going to be by the sheer size.  Randy kept wanting to go on the very tip-top deck where they put a waterslide.  A waterslide?  Really?  I wonder how many of those lost at sea are kids.

And is this a bloodstain?

Once allowed access to our cabin, we unpacked and explored the rest of the ship.  Everything was exotic to us.  Even the bathrooms.  Apparenly one squeezes the doorknobs to get out of the stall.  And can you figure out these instructions we found on the toilet lids?

Yes, the words are universal, but is that a bag of Froot Loops being tossed?

And how in the world does this work?

Okay. . . so we were tired.  Everything seemed much more obvious after we had a moment to kick back and rest.

For dinner we were assigned seating in the Windsong dining room, sharing a table with three other couples.  Gary and his wife, Allison, Michael and his wife, Erica, and Tyrone and his wife Kim.  Tyrone and Kim looked very familiar to me.  I kept thinking ‘home makeover’ on HGTV, but was afraid it might have been ‘Unsolved Mysteries’.   I didn’t ask.  I kept thinking of all those disappearing people.  Seriously, though, everyone was charming and fun, and we were fortunate in our choice of table-mates.

After being served dessert, our waiters marched back into the dining room to put on a mini-show.  First, they paraded in, single-file, either clapping to the music (apple bottom), or waving their white napkins over their heads.  Then, once in place by their tables, began dancing to ‘Not My Pit Bull’.

Here is our team headwaiter, Jorge, doing the Macarena.  Think Mike Meche from Columbia.  And Jorge is pronounced ‘Hore-hay’. . . which Randy promptly forgot and kept calling him ‘Hay-hor’.  Go ahead.  Say that out loud.  Yeah . . .

Then, since it was already well after sunset . . .

. . . we went to bed.

Yeah, okay . . . so it was only 8 p.m.  But that only served to make sure we were wide awake before dawn the next morning . . .

CRUISING – PART 2 coming soon.

Do you have any of your own cruising tales you want to share?  I know you have them.  Remember, to leave a comment, click on the ‘Comments’ tag at the end of this blog, and don’t forget to check out the latest Photoblog on the right.  Just put your cursor over the picture to read the caption, or click on one if you want to leave your comment.

And now, to watch a funny video – click on the link below and watch with the sound up:

Yeah.  Sorry about that.  But it is only 1 minute and 42 seconds long.

Have fun!

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20 Responses to CRUISING – PART 1

  1. Kippy says:

    Does then mean I don’t have to tell my embarrasing story now?

  2. Snuffygump says:

    I still can’t get over how you guys got sucked into exhausting yourself! About where Randy is bonding with the life (donut, what are those round things called?) preserver, was the first and last of any activity that we engaged in on the cruise we went on. When they told us we didn’t have to do anything if we didn’t want to, we believed them! No one ever bothered us. No one ever came knocking on our cabin door to ask why we never showed up for out assigned seating meals.
    Val ( my husband, Prince Valiant, for whom he is named after) and I would hole up in the library and play Wapelo Canasta and drink our 1.2 mixed drinks that we had budgeted for on our 7 day venture. OK, we allowed money for 2 full drinks.
    The only other activity that we planned for was to take the semi submersible once we got to Mazatlân. That was worth every penny.
    The hard part was disembarking from this mutant submarine while averting our eyes from looking at the crew, all lined up, each one seeming to have their own personal tip box cradled in their arms and a perfect toothed smile and glistening eyes.
    Since I can not speak Spanish, I couldn’t explain to them that we were the American version of poor folk in our country, that we had won our cruise and even to be able to embark on this trip, we had to drive for 4 days to reach New Orleans. Sleeping in the car. Nothing like boarding a cruise ship after sleeping at a rest stop outside New Orleans, with the windows rolled up to protect against rabid mosquito’s, in August.
    The other hard encounter happened after locating a restroom in Mazatlân. Their was a young senorita assigned to personally remove the paper towel from the dispensor to hand to you.
    I had already blown my entire sovenier budget on a carved and colorfully painted armadillo, $5 bucks! Maybe I should have given that to her as a tip, I felt soooo guilty!
    But we did rest, a lot….thanks to our cozy bottom dwelling, inner cave room. We went to bed by 10 pm and sometimes didn’t roll out of bed till after 1 pm. That caused panic on our part, cause we knew that we had missed the main feed on the buffet deck.
    Val and I would do a cruise again in a heartbeat!

  3. Kipper says:

    Me again! My Mammy and me both love all of your pictures! Mammy really loves the sunset! We hope you will post a whole bunch more on part 2!

  4. Felix says:

    What was your little towel guy supposed to be? Too bad that I wasn’t there to befriend him.

  5. Thea says:

    Kippy, I still want to hear your embarrassing story. :) And I’m glad you and your Mammy liked the pictures. I will post many more on my next blog.

    Snuffygump, your stories and experiences are always hilarious. I tried to get Randy to slow down, but he was having too much fun. NOW he has slowed… We’re both exhausted.

    Felix, I think my towel friend is a walrus. I’ll post pictures of each towel animal our cabin steward, Rommell (from the Philipines) made us.

    Thanks for commenting, guys!

  6. Laura Jill says:

    Went on a cruise for our 4th wedding anniversary, Gianna was carry-on luggage, (I was 6 months pregnant with her), and Brice was about 1 and a half years old. If you don’t think going to sea while pregnant and trying to haul around a toddler to boot would be difficult, think again. I was so seasick, (morning sickness plus the rocking of the waves), I had to sleep on deck for a couple of nights. The salt air settled my stomach and I didn’t “feel” the rocking of the boat as badly on the top deck. Once I was able to relax, Brice would sneak away, but I always knew where to find him. He would wander into the casino and try to outwit the one-armed bandits. On a couple of occassions, the Pit Boss, (who acted like a Pit Bull), read me the entire set of rules about children not being allowed into the casino. On our last day at sea, Brice had made his way back into the casino and had found the obliging lap of a senior citizen who reminded me of Wilford Brimley in “Cocoon.” He was allowing Brice to pull down the arm on his slot machine and apparently, he had won. Brice soon became “the lucky charm” everyone wanted, and he had the time of his life pulling their slot machine arm down. To show his appreciation, the gentleman gave Brice $10.00 to spend as he pleased. Of course, he wanted to continue in the casino as “Short Man Sam” but we were soon escorted out, again. To this day, Brice loves to play poker on-line.
    We sailed to the Bahamas with two other Witness couples and had a great time. One couple was Dallas and Ellen Tieking, who are on my Facebook as we speak. I think my favorite day was when we were on the Isle of Grand Bahama and I found a small, secluded cove where I spread out a blanket and some pillows for Brice to lay on. It was right near the water’s edge and he would scoot into the water and play while I laid in a hammock near-by. Daniel was off snorkling somewhere, while Ellen and Cathy Helms went to play volleyball on a near-by beach with a group of other tourists. Jimmy-Dolye, Cathy’s husband sat near the volleyball party in a chair reading a book. I don’t remember where Dallas went. I think he was playing volleyball too but I can’t recall. I do remember laying in the hammock, swinging gently in the breeze while Brice played in the sand and water nearby. After about an hour or so, he made his way over to me and started to get into the hammock, but I protested because he was all sandy and wet. I walked him back over to the water’s edge and stripped off his bath suit and washed all the sand off and wrapped my little boy into a towel and we both went back and laid down in the hammock. He was still nursing a little, especially at bedtime, and as I nursed him, we swung ever so slightly in that hammock and fell asleep together. That is my favorite cruise vacation memory. :)

  7. Thea says:

    Wow, Laura! Sounds idyllic. Not the insane vomiting part :) , but the last part. Paradise.

  8. Thea says:

    LOL. I just caught that… Randy bonding with the life preserver :D
    Actually, he was miming the name of the boat…

  9. Snuffygump says:

    Oh! That’s Randy miming ECSTASY!? I thought he was just happy to find out that you get to have life preservers to use in case you were able to travel fast enough to reach the level where the life preservers were in time before the boat sank.

  10. Thea says:

    No. That would be me.

  11. Purplume says:

    You crack me up and so did that video.

    You hear about all the eating on cruises, so I avoided them until my 90 + year old father talked me into joining him.
    Good news is, he gets a cabin with a little deck.
    I loved it totally. I loved jogging and working out to the rising sun.
    Maybe that happened because I refused the night life. I started the cruise with a cold.
    I loved the food, omg. And I loved going to presentations that had free champagne. Then after three days my father went into congestive heart failure and we had to take him to a hospital in St. Thomas.
    My father recovered and is better than ever now.
    Btw, travel insurance does NOT cover meals.

  12. Thea says:

    Wow… I’m sorry to hear about what you and your father-in-law had to go through.

    And – Ohhhhh, yeah! The food. That’s what I went for. :) And we managed to sniff out all the free champagne events. I agree. The mornings were the best. We’d sit out on the deck with our breakfast – the only ones there – and enjoy the sunrise.
    I think that was the best part!

  13. Felix says:

    Dear Auntie Thea,
    I went on a cruise once. I can’t remember if I wrote to you about it or if it was Slarty that I wrote to about it, cause I was trying to impress her. Now I’m scared of repeating myself, because I never want to tell the same story twice, like Mammy and Daddy do. It’s not because they are getting senile, they’ve always done that. I guess that’s the advantage of moving all over the place so much, new people, same old stories.
    If I had gone on the cruise with you and Uncle Randy, like me and Winnie were supposed to, then I could write about that. I guess I could write about the old cruise, that is, if I haven’t already told you about it. If I did, forget about it.

  14. Thea says:

    I’m sorry, Felix. You wouldn’t have liked going on the cruise with us anyway. Uncle Randy’s snoring would have kept you and Winnie awake. And he might have rolled over and squashed you.
    But you never told me your cruise story. I would love to hear it. :D

  15. Felix says:

    Are you sure? I don’t want to be violating my no double story telling policy, now, you know what I mean?
    Felix’s Cruise Experience
    Me and Winnie and Bud all got to go on the cruise with my Mammy and Daddy. They had us stow away in the special suitcase that they brought along just to haul on their bizzillion pillows.
    That was AOK with us, because we were finally getting to go on a cruise!!!
    But it was far different than what we expected. Me and Winnie and Bud all thought that we were going to get to frolick about the decks, go down the water slide and go dancing at night, plus eat pizza and drink beer 3 times a day, even at midnight.
    Everything seemed OK at first, cause we got through the life jacket drill just fine. They were a little big on us, we could have used them for rafts, I guess.
    Then, that was it! We never got to leave our cabin the whole 7 days at sea! Mammy and Daddy would disappear, like forever, we’re not sure how long, cause it was as dark as a cave in our cabin, and we couldn’t see our paws in front of our faces.
    ‘Cept, when our cabin dude came in, then it was party time!
    Each day he brought a new friend for us to meet and he always left them with us. So by the end of our cruise there were 5 special friends that we had made. The only problem with that was they kind of stunk, cause they were old wet used towels, but that was OK, because they thought we stunk, too!
    There was a little fake window in our cabin that had special lights all around it that worked out perfectly to use as a stage. So, me and Winnie and Bud, and our towel buddies put on plays and concerts, so we didn’t need to feel totally neglected by our Mammy and Daddy.

  16. Slarty says:

    I typed what seemed like a book (actually it didn’t end up too long, but I spent forever condensing it) in this comment box today about my cruise experiences, and when I hit the post comment button my computer thought long and hard then decided to lose explorer or Internet connection. I guess my comment never made it. Isn’t that the way it goes? Maybe another day.

  17. Thea says:

    I’m sorry, Slarty. That’s happened to me too.
    I’m doing Cruising – Part 2 soon… just in case you feel creative…

  18. Thea says:

    Well, Felix, I’ll have to say you and your brother made the most of a difficult situation. :) Did you guys eat the pillow mints that your cabin steward put out for your mammy and daddy?

  19. Kipper says:

    Aunti Thea! Elmo kinda went on a cruise. You will see what I mean when you look at FB.

  20. Thea says:

    I saw that Kippy! He kind of looked like the plumbing inspector… A toilet troll…

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