So, I'm finally getting around to blogging about my cruise a mere two and a half weeks after getting back from it. When did time start to move so fast? September is past half over, for heaven's sake. Before I know it, I'll be 31. (Actually on Friday, please no gifts, just cash, thanks).
Anyhow, a while ago, I went on a cruise with 7 good friends from here in Salt Lake, 2 of whom happen to be my roommates, and the other 5 of whom are in my ward. Brandon and Mel can argue about whose idea it was, but I'll just say that Brandon is the one that invited me to join in on this cruise to the Bahamas, and I, having never been on a cruise, and suddenly finding myself with both the money and barely enough PTO, decided to give it a go. I especially love going on trips that other people have planned (see my trips to St. George and Yellowstone in July).
Anyway, as soon as we put our down payments in, I started working on getting my passport renewed (yes, it's been more than 10 years since I left on my mission), slimmed down (not specifically for cruise purposes, but hey), and started spending several hours a day standing on a teeter-totter. Okay that last one isn't true, but maybe it would have been good preparation for being on the boat. I can gratefully say that at no point did I ever feel like I was going to throw up, but especially in the first couple days I did feel a little dizzy, like the room was moving (which it was), something that seemed to be most noticeable in large enclosed spaces like the dining room and the theater. I didn't take any Dramamine or anything for motion sickness, but managed to get by alright without it.
Waiting at SLC
Our trip started in the dead of night, with a 12:50 am flight from Salt Lake International to Atlanta and then on to Miami. Julie-Ann and Kellen had flown down a couple days earlier and stayed with Julie-Ann's brother who goes to school down there, so it was the other 6 of us on this flight. On rare occasion, I do sometime wish I'd been involved in planning things, and I would have opted to skip the red-eye, but it probably saved us money on a hotel and just on ticket prices. I was better off than most, as I had pretty much no trouble sleeping on either flight. On both legs, I was out before they went through the safety presentation. Sadly, this meant I missed out on snack and drink time. Brandon was nice enough to save me one of his bags of peanuts on the 2nd leg though. Anyway, even with two longish naps, totally maybe 4 or 5 hours of sleep total, I was still pretty tired, and I can only imagine how the others felt, including some who couldn't sleep at all.
We arrived at Miami Int'l around 9 am, and figured we'd need to find somewhere to eat breakfast and then head to the ship. The van driver we found thought if we just went to the boat, we could get onboard and eat there and not have to buy food somewhere else. We trusted him and while we didn't end up getting on the boat until 11:30, it was better than we'd feared (we thought we couldn't even board until 1 or later).
He dropped us off and a nice young man in serious need of some orthodontic work introduced himself as our "porter" and not-to-subtly suggested that we needed to pay him to ensure the save transfer of our bags to the boat. ("Sometimes you gotta grease the wheels. With some THICK grease. I'd say about $5 per person.") After that, we went through an airport-esque security checkpoint and then into a big room like an airport lobby that had a tall wall of windows where you could see the boat. We got checked in for the cruise, and then waited another 30 minutes or so before boarding and finding some lunch.
Waiting to board the ship
After a quick meal, and some exploring up top, we headed down below deck to get into our room and hopefully take a nap. Our room had 4 beds (2 above the other), but the two top bunks had yet to be lowered from the ceiling, so Brandon used an ottoman and some pillows to make a bridge between the two other beds, and we got some well-needed catch-up sleep. I always slept very well on the cruise. The beds were very comfortable with good pillows, and having an inside cabin meant our room was pretty much pitch black at any hour of the day.
Main deck area
Kellen and Julie-Ann got on-board a few hours after we did, and we saw Kellen poke his head in briefly in the midst of our napping. A few hours later, we finally were up and ready to start vacationing for real. First stop? Trivia. Trivia was a common activity on the boat, happening several times a day, and when I could I tried to hit up the games. At this first installment (theme: General Knowledge), I won my first of several rounds, and earned myself a super-cheap Carnival Destiny (our ship) trophy.
After trivia, we headed up to the deck to watch as we sailed out of Miami. Definitely lots of impressive housing there along the route we took. It was kind of funny watching people wave at us, and even cars on the highway honk as we cruised on out into the ocean. You'd think they'd see that stuff all the time, but maybe not.
After that, we wandered around the deck some more, some of the girls got airbrushed tattoos, and then we went back to our rooms to see if our luggage had been sufficiently greased to make it to us without incident. Thankfully they had, and we did some unpacking and relaxing until time for dinner.
Dinner turned out to always be one of my favorite moments of each day. Plenty of exciting and tasty choices, and a good time to sit and relax. Plenty of time, too. Dinner started at 8:15 and usually we were getting done right around 10:00. Between bread, appetizers, main course(s), and dessert(s), there was plenty of serving and clean-up and waiting time in between courses. I know the first night I had a steak, and my first of many melting chocolate cakes (with sugar-free ice cream on the side). Can't remember what I had for my appetizer, but I'm sure it was good, too.
After dinner, there was an opening show in the theater where the dancers danced, and the singers sang, and the cruise director cracked some jokes, and then there was an actual comedian who was fairly funny (especially compared to the guy we saw later in the week).
After the show, we went up on the deck to chill for a while, and then called it a night.
Apparently everyone needed some space. Not sure why everyone is so spread out in this photo.