Cruisin’ for a Bruisin’

Alright, you guys have been uber patient. Or not. I don’t know. But I’m back and about to catch you up on everything. Everything.

First things first. Remember when I went on my first cruise? If you think it seems like a while ago, you’re right. I mean it was technically less than a month ago, but it feels like a lifetime. I’ll try to make it worth the wait.

I don’t know if you’ve ever been on a cruise. And if you love them, I certainly don’t want to offend with anything I’m about to say. Here were our first impressions:

1. These are not our people.
2. It’s like if Hometown Buffet and Golden Corral had a baby.
3. I think we’ll be the only ones at yoga.

Now, my family loves both Hometown Buffet and Golden Corral. And I love them (my family). But I’m not a buffet person. And I’m not a gluttonous person. ESPECIALLY when it comes to food. Not bragging. Stating a truth. So as we lined up to climb aboard the Carnival Sensation, I was struck by the amount of overweight people and families, carrying on their own cases of soda and bags of junk food. It was a four-day cruise.

Then – because we were there early – we were directed to the buffet because our cabins weren’t ready yet. I’m not a fan of buffets in general, mostly because there’s no way for me to eat my money’s worth and because people sneeze and community food and et cetera et cetera. I also am a pescatarian. My partner-in-crime for this vacay is both gluten- and dairy-free. We perused the various options – picking and choosing as we went along – but were distracted by the people with overflowing trays of food. We had just embarked. It wasn’t even really meal time. What the heck was happening?

It was straight out of Wall E.

Appearance-wise, the ship was delightfully tacky. Something we read boasted about a recent renovation, but maybe they were talking about the cabins?

We made our way to our room until we were called to a safety briefing. The safety briefing involved meeting up at a muster station before heading out to the lifeboats. I wondered aloud if – in the event of an actual emergency – we would all so willingly head deeper into the boat only to sit calmly in a ballroom whilst waiting to be dismissed to the lifeboats table by table. WHILE THE SHIP IS SINKING.

I’ve seen Titanic. I’m going to guess no. Thankfully I didn’t have to find out. And I took the whole thing very seriously.

By this time the boat was moving. And I could feel it moving. I am no stranger to motion sickness. We’re quite the enemies, in fact. But I was wearing one of those neato poteato patches behind my ear. So I was going to be fine…right?

We were on the cruise to celebrate the bday of famed neurologist Ted Carrick. There was a group of about 150 of us, and our first celebration happened that first day (Sunday), shortly after the safety drill. As soon as I sat down, I was like, whoa. WHOA. We’re moving. I’m moving. So I stood up. For some reason that felt better. Then I started drinking wine. I adjusted soon after that.

We met our dinner mates that night and we ended up hanging with our table peeps for much of the rest of the trip. There were a couple of couples, a mom and daughter, a married guy on his own, and us. For some reason I had imagined the dinner tables would be round, but other than that, it was just like I had heard. Sitting at the table didn’t bother me, so I figured I was used to the movement. You could order as much of anything on the menu. The waitstaff was very accommodating. (On the night they served tiramisu (my favorite), when the waiter found out I loved it, he was all, are you sure you don’t want two? or three? I savored the one I got.) I was actually happy with the food every night. I ate a lot of fish, but I like it, so that was fine, and apparently better than the steak most nights.

We went to the comedy show that first night, and it was funny. Lots of jokes about “cruisers.” The guy knew his crowd. Julie and I decided that if we never took the elevators we would never become cruisers. We would always take the stairs. Even when my feet burned and hurt from hours dancing in heels (something they’re not used to anymore), I took the pain of the stairs rather than the perceived humiliation of the elevator.

(Don’t worry that would all change by Tuesday.)

Monday, we made our first stop: Freeport.

Look how much fun we're having!!

I have no idea what we’re laughing about. We laughed a lot, so it’s hard to tell. Instead of choosing a shore excursion, we opted for a taxi to town with a couple of our table mates. We headed to Lucaya Marketplace where Albi demonstrated some unexpected limbo moves.

Then this guy wowed the crowd.

How low can he go?

Full disclosure: that’s the limbo guy, so he’s a pro. For serious:

He picked that kid out of the crowd. Then, as if we weren’t already ubes impressed, he did this:

Those are beer bottles, y’all.

After that we walked over to the beach, where I posed for pictures because, duh…that’s what I do.

I then climbed on some very treacherous and painful lava rocks in order to pose some more.

I like to point in pictures. It gives me something to do. And it also makes you wonder: what awesome thing is just outside of frame? Truth is? I don’t know, but it most likely was nothing. More funny is the number of pictures Julie took of me struggling to reach this point on the rocks. I was never one of those kids who could run on gravel. It’s weird because I love being barefoot, but my feet don’t take kindly to rough surfaces. I mean, seriously, I even make walking out into the ocean on baby-fine sand look like a struggle.

Actually, the water looks way warmer than it was. I mean it wasn’t Pacific Ocean/California coast cold, but it took a few minutes to get used to.

Before we knew it, it was time to head back and start getting ready for our dress-up dinner.

Now, on your way to the dining rooms on the ships are a number of photo backdrops and photographers. They’re cheesy and…amazing. We began to appreciate the cruise for the silliness and started to embrace it all.

Before the cruise was over, we would have posed at every station. Unfortunately each picture was like $20 or I would have all of them to show you. All of them made me laugh so hard I almost peed. I also almost got in trouble when I tried to take pictures of some of them.

Because here’s the thing. When we would walk up, they are all begging you to take pictures. And there are fake railings and chaise lounges and surf boards and moons and basically whatever backgrounds you can possibly imagine. I would explain that Julie and I were just friends (not that there’s anything wrong with two ladies being more) and that we should be posed like sisters.

These photogs were so befuddled. They clearly didn’t go to the Sears Portrait School of Posing Ideas. One of the pictures we didn’t purchase had me leaning against Julie as she laid on her side on the ground. We were both in dresses. Mine uncharacteristically low cut. It did not come out looking very sisterly.

The most fun part is that since we were laughing in like every single one, they all came out pretty well. No matter how silly.

(Blurry because it's a phone pic of a picture.)

Know that OF COURSE I asked to lay on the piano. He said it wasn’t allowed. Sadface.

Ok so at dinner that night, Dr. Ted stands up and alludes to some sort of door prize. I started freaking out. The last thing I wanted was for him to call my name. I looked at Julie in horror. I like INDIRECT attention. Not the kind of attention that requires you to walk in front of an entire dining room and accept a door prize. I went into “please don’t let it be me” mode.

So they call this girl up and ask if she’s here with anyone. Her guy goes up there and they have fun with him, acting like he’s a puppet. Pulling him up and down and then leave him down on his knee WHERE HE PROPOSED. Well Ted kinda did the proposing and then she hugged him and I guess at some point said yes. (Here’s a video if you want to watch.)

I made a Kristen Bell face about it. On our way out of the dining room, we stopped at Carrick’s table, and I said now that I knew what the door prize/giveway/raffle was, I totally wanted one and that tomorrow was my turn. Everyone laughed and he agreed to it.

Dr. Carrick still owes me a fiance.

That night we went to the comedy show again. And then headed into Kaleidoscope, the dance club. All our friends were married couples and it was this night that we realized we were part of the older crowd on the boat. It was a weird realization.

(Luckily, the next day I would be fun enough to solicit an invite to Senor Frogs from a gaggle of drunk co-eds.)

I do have to say I loved meeting all the new people and all of the various convos we had. I definitely wish there was more time spent in ports. At the same time, slowly – but surely – I was GETTING this whole cruising thing.

Next stop was Nassau, where I snapped this shot of our ship looking tiny against the other cruise ship in port.

We had selected a snorkeling/paddle boarding trip for this day, so we went from the cruise ship to a catamaran. Despite the fact that boats on the ocean are not my friend, the patch is a life changer and I didn’t have an issue.

Sadly this is as much of my super awesome neon bikini that was photographed. I laid out all the following day in it, but I didn’t take any pictures. The most exciting part of this day tho came when I was actually able to stand up on the paddle board! I had never done it before, and it was raining and kinda choppy, so I felt very accomplished.

They gave us the choice between kayak paddles and stand-up paddles and I went with kayak because they said it would be easier, but I was kind of too tall for it when standing. Never the less, it was a fun experience. I had begun on my knees, but the boards were super hard plastic, so I went to a squat and held that for a while before gaining the courage to stand up completely. Nobody was more impressed than I was.

Then, because I’m me, I did eventually lose my balance. They had petrified us about hitting our heads on the boards, so I made an exaggerated dive off the side on the way down that was apparently pretty hilarious. I was able to climb back on and then basically kayaked around until deciding it was time to snorkel.

On the way back to our ship, the boat’s captain pointed out the waterfront homes of Chuck Norris, Oprah (she owns two neighboring abodes), Barry Bonds and the owner of Atlantis.

By the time we got back, it was raining pretty steadily. And we were pretty tired. And before we knew it, we were on the elevator. It was a group decision, and we decided as long as we didn’t make it a habit, we were ok.

Wednesday was our last day and our only day at sea. Julie had a class, so I laid out all day on a beach chair. It was really pretty fantastic. The weather was great. The Bahama Mamas were flowing. I had a magazine.

It was drunk time fun time that last night on the ship, and after I had enough with dancing I made my way to the blackjack tables I had tried to ignore the whole time. I walked away $50 richer. Hit me, I’ll stay.

So, in conclusion, I’ll be ok if I never go on another cruise. My sister really wants me to go on one with her, and promises me that certain aspects of my experience (obese people on scooters) didn’t happen on either of the cruises she’s been on. I get the benefits of cruising. And the ease of it. I’m just not sure it’s my style of traveling. I like being in one place and exploring and learning about it. I like having to plan (or not plan as the case may be) my own vacay. That being said, Alaskan cruises seem like an awesome way to see that part of the country. Except I’m going to guess it’s too cold to lay out on days at sea so I’m not sure what you do…

But at least I can say I’ve done it. Because boy did I.

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