Preface: Six months ago, Laura called me up to inform me that there was this “Hot Deal” for this Royal Caribbean cruise in September. It was the same cruise that they had gone on in December and loved it so much that they wanted to sail it again. We thought it would be fun to take a vacation together, so here we all are now, ready to start our trip!
Sunday: The day began very early in the morning for us because we had to catch a flight at 9:30 to Houston and we wanted to triple check that everything was in order. Luggage, check. Passports, check. Carry-ons, check. iPods, check. Blankie, check. Lappy, check. Nintendo DS Lite, not checked (Bob, you are not getting one! (You can’t blame a brother for trying! –Bob)). So, once we arrived at the airport and went through security, I, of course, lost my boarding pass. I knew that I had it when I went through security but it seemed to have worked its way out of my back pocket. Luckily, someone had found it and it was returned to me. I don’t have to tell you who kept it for me after that (But I can tell you that I was forced into a position of responsibility. Damn it was early to deal with that! –Bob). Yes, I know, I can be like a child sometimes and need to be watched out for. Due to some unfortunate plane malfunctions and stormy weather in Houston, we were delayed about an hour. I had to talk Laura down off of the ledge a couple of times, she was getting a little concerned about the time crunch. Once we landed and piled our giant pieces of luggage, we were off! It finally felt like we were on vacation! We had a little incident with the rental car once we got to the terminal but the guys at the terminal retrieving our luggage were nice enough to offer their services to help us drop the car off after originally being so useless (I’m still convinced the great service we were hearing about from Laura and Freddie for the last six months is only allowed on the ship. –Bob). When the boys came back, we checked in and got our first view of the floating city that would be our home for the next seven days!
Bob and I were well prepared for the size of our room, as EVERYONE told us how miniscule the room would. Actually, the room isn’t too bad, there is enough room to turn around and take a few steps from one end to the other end. Didn’t have time to explore the ship yet because we had to run and grab lunch before it closed (The first instance of a recurring theme: eating! –Bob). After that, we had the mandatory muster drill and wore these really sexy lifejackets. I’m telling you, bright orange is the new color.
We watched the ship leave the dock around 5:30 and then went back to the room to rest and get ready for dinner tonight. We were assigned the second seating (8:30) and two waiters: Bernardo and Mariana. They will be serving us the entire trip and they are wonderful. And the food was hella delicious in the dining room. Four courses, rich, beautifully plated. I was very impressed with my first night on the ship.
Sidenote: The Great Divide. Staterooms have two twin beds that are pushed together to make a king-size bed. I’ve been told that nothing will happen if you sleep on the crack. Not true if you are 6’6” and weigh quite a bit more than your wife. There have been many times where Bob had to get up to push the bed back together lest he was going to fall through.
Monday: Our first full day of cruising. It began with breakfast in the dining room, followed by a waltz class. Since the four of us already knew how to waltz, we breezed right through it, although it was a little difficult trying to navigate through the others who were paying more attention to their feet than where they were going. Then we decided to take a dip in the pool. There are two pools here, one outside the other inside surrounded by glass, giving it the illusion that you are outside. We frolicked in the inside pool and then cleaned up for lunch. Afterwards, Laura and I went to a “New Look, New You” seminar where we met the bitchiest woman EVAR! We were talking about haircuts/hairstyles and both of us and expressed that we were low-maintenance, therefore, we wanted something simple. The woman said to us, “You aren’t low-maintenance, you’re just lazy.” I was ready to reach around and slap her but instead I just glared at the back of her ugly head, hoping that laser beams would shoot from my eyes and blast her head off (It happens. I’ve seen it. –Bob). She even said to Laura (in regards to bangs), “Bangs make your face fatter. Not that you’re fat.” This isn’t the consultant holding the seminar, but a guest. Watch it lady, next time I see you, your ass is going overboard! While we were getting criticized, Bob went to the art auction (he wanted the free lithograph) that being held. Afterwards, he and Freddie went to the wine tasting (they both saw it as a chance for free booze) and Laura and I just relaxed. An hour nap, we got dressed for dinner.
It was a formal night and so we got out the fancy stuff and attended the Captain’s Gala where we got to meet the Captain. What can I say about dinner? Absolutely wonderful. Escargot, Lobster Bisque, Filet of Beef and Grand Marnier Soufflé. To end the evening, we saw “The Piano Man” (a musical montage of hits from Billy Joel, Elton John, et al –Bob) in the theater followed by dancing the night away to the sounds of the 70s. Man, the Village People looked great for being that old! And I didn’t know that there was more to the Y-M-C-A than just the letters!
Sidenote: Girls, here’s a trick to shaving your legs in the tiny, tiny shower. Just stick your leg out and put it on the sink. It works wonderfully!
Tuesday: Key West, our first port of call.
(I know, we’re dressed alike, it was totally by accident. We ARE NOT one of “those” couples!)
We all slept in today and went up to breakfast around 10:30. Then there was two hours in the pool for Bob, Laura and Freddy while I lounged in a deck chair and read. Next, it was lunch before we disembarked. Key West was beautiful. It had that slow-paced small town feel, but had way more things to see. You just saw people of all different varieties walking their dogs, riding bikes and mopeds around. You felt like you were somewhere exotic, not in Florida. The town seemed so bright, probably due to the sun shining on all the white buildings around us.
We first hit the Pirate Soul Museum (ARRRRGH). They had real artifacts from the days of the pirates and even one of the oldest Jolly Roger flags! And of course, we where hijacked by Captain Spike and had our picture taken with him. After that, Bob and I had to go to the Key West Winery for a tasting of some local wines. I thought they were some great wines so don’t worry, we’re bringing some home to enjoy with you guys. Since we had traveled to the southernmost point in the US, we had to walk the mile-and-half to the buoy, where this local bum offered to take our picture and then demanded a tip.
Kinda weird. Now, the one thing I had to do in Key West is have Key Lime Pie and we went to Kermit’s for that. Yum, Key Lime Pie, dipped in chocolate on a stick.
Because Bob and I are such dorks, we bought tickets for the ghost tour. We heard stories of a man and his doll that ages, a man who stole his love’s dead body and slept with her for seven years, and a preacher who set his church on fire with his wife due to a jealous rage. We love this stuff. And he was a cool dude, calling his home Key Weird.
When we got back on the ship, they had a pool party going on up on the deck and there was a buffet! You know if there was free food we were there.
Sidenote: Since all the food is included on the ship, why bother to pay to eat while your docked? I know it sounds cheap, but hey, its INCLUDED! You already paid for it!
Wednesday: Day at Sea. Really, Bob and I were worthless when it came to being at sea. We pretty much just ate, slept, lounged, ate some more, and hung out at the pool. Pretty much totally awesome. We all did go to Arts n’ Crafts time and from the way we were all making fun of each other, we were the only group that didn’t take it seriously. Catch phrase during craft time: “If you don’t make the pieces smaller, you won’t be happy with it.” Actually, that was directed to Freddie’s project and when she said that she was going to use his project as an example of what not to do, it just fueled his fire to make his the best little matte frame.
Sidenote: When it’s painted on the ground, “Slippery When Wet,” it’s true. Just ask the middle-aged woman who slipped and fell right on the sign. How appropos. If only I had my camera at that moment.
Thursday: Grand Cayman. Today was the BEST DAY! We got off the ship and it was absolutely beautiful! Those Corona commercials weren’t lying about the turquoise ocean and white sandy beaches! We had set up this excursion to swim with the stingrays (yes, yes, we knew about Steve Irwin and we still weren’t going to back down). That was such fun! These stingrays aren’t any part of program, they are really wild stingrays and they were HUGE! I’m telling you, the stingrays at Sea World had nothing on the ones at Stingray City. We went snorkeling with them but really, we were only in about waist deep water, so I spent most of my time just sticking my head underwater. They were such amazing creatures, they would just swim right up, around and under you with no fear. And we got to feed them squid, you just had to be careful not to let them bite your fingers off. I definitely would recommend this excursion for anyone who goes to Grand Cayman. Afterwards, all of us hung out on Seven Mile Beach, a gorgeous stretch of beach! All we did was frolic in the ocean; Bob did get stung by a couple of jellyfish and once I saw one, I was pretty much done with the water. (We walked further down the beach and got back in, no problems. That second location also afforded us a nice view of a bunch of girls who were sunbathing topless. Oh Yeah! –Bob). Once we got back onto the ship, we had to get ready for dinner. It was our second formal night which means, lobster night!
Tonight was also the Gala Buffet at midnight where the chefs displayed their artistic abilities with these outstanding culinary creations. Since we only ate about two hours ago, Bob and I didn’t eat too much, but we had to because it was a buffet. Freddie and Laura, on the other hand, made it to midnight but didn’t stay to eat because they were exhausted.
Sidenote: To the creepy guy in the banana hammock who was “sneakily” taking pictures of the topless sunbathing ladies: Dude, you’re not that sneaky.
Friday: Cozumel. Bob and I got up early in the morning for an excursion to Tulum, an ancient Mayan site on the Yucatan Peninsula. We had to take a ferry from the ship to the mainland and from there, a 45 minute bus ride to the park. All I have to say about the people that were with us: WHINY, WHINY, WHINY! Most of the group consisted of men and women in their 50s and 60s. Now, when our guide told us that we had to walk six blocks from the pier to the bus station and the grumbling began, I knew I was going to have to push some people under the bus.
Hey people, when there is a symbol next to the excursion that represents “Physical Activity” it means there will be physical activity involved. The little stick man in the running pose is not a pretty bit of art! And, these people were not dressed for hot, rocky, humid climate of Tulum. Once we got to the site, it was oppressively hot, but we were prepared for this. Bob and I were appropriately dressed and had enough water to last. We hiked around the site, saw the amazing buildings, immersed ourselves in the past.
And took pictures of huge iguanas to boot. Beautiful.
When we got back to the pier to take us to Cozumel, it began to rain. Now, the people who were just complaining on how terribly hot they were, they started to complain about the rain! OMIGOD! I HATE OLD PEOPLE! JUST SHUT-UP! Well, once we arrived to Cozumel, we went directly back to the ship. We were sufficiently burnt and tired and did not want to deal with pushy entrepreneurs. Wow! I’ve never been hassled so much to go into people’s stores! And I thought people who worked on commission at the mall were annoying. This environment a tad bit too much for me.
Sidenote: Any excursion that offers free tequila shots is okay by us! Yes, we did have tequila shots on our Tulum excursion. It helped numb the pain of old people around us. If I had known it was going to get worse, I would have taken the entire bottle.
Saturday: Last day at sea and we did absolutely nothing. Did not leave the room until noon, had lunch and then hibernated back in the room until about 6:30. We were just so exhausted from the previous two days of being out in the Caribbean sun that we needed a day to just lounge around in bed and watch TV. I know, I know, seemed like a waste of our last day on the ship, but it was exactly what we both needed. (True. –Bob)
Sidenote: ESPN Deportes freaking rocks. They show so much soccer. The only downside was in the afternoons when they show horse jumping. Who gives a shit about horse jumping? Mexicans, I guess… –Bob
Sunday: The trip home was uneventful, somewhat. I did get to have my name announced throughout Lambert as soon as we got off the plane. How could I have gotten in trouble when I’ve only been off the plane for five minutes? Turns out, I left my driver’s license on the plane. I totally should have made Bob carry that like I did my boarding pass. We are now officially done with our vacation. It is sad but at the same time, we’re glad to be going home. If only we can take our house with us on vacation, that would be perfect. I would never pine for home again. Our thoughts on our cruising experience: WE LOVED IT! It was the type of vacation that allowed so much flexibility. If you wanted to be entertained, there were so many things to do and see while on the ship. If you wanted to lay in a lounge chair for five hours, that was okay as well. The food was fantastic, whether it was in the dining room, the Windjammer (buffet) or room service. We were not disappointed with anything (Except for the whiny-ass old people. –Bob). Everyone who worked on the ship was so attentive and did I mention the food? Wonderful! And yes, they do make animals out of towels, just like in all the ads! We are now hooked and we plan on cruising again! We would definitely recommend cruising with another couple as well. It gives you an automatic barrier between yourself and the two thousand strangers, so if any of you guys need a couple to cruise with, you have our number.
If you guys want to be utterly bored with the rest of our pictures, please click here. And if you want us to go into details about our trip with a slideshow, come on over and we’ll be more than happy to explain every picture in detail! Pictures of stingrays and our day in Grand Cayman will have to wait because we have to develop those pictures, you know, underwater cameras and all.