Saturday, May 28, 2005
"Rock the Boat, Don't Rock the Boat Baby"...
It seems like I have been away from home now forever. Actually it was only seven days, but when you’re gone that long it tends to cause you to get behind in so many things. I spent most of Thursday working hard to catch up on work. When I finally checked my work email that morning, I believe I had like 200 that had been sent in the week and a half since I had last worked. I kept myself busy till around 11:30 when I went and picked up my daughter from school, it was the last day, and she and a friend and I went to the noon showing of Star Wars III. As a hardcore SW fan, let me say that I was very pleased with Mr. Lucas’s wrapping up of the story. It was an excellent movie and I plan on seeing it a few more times before it comes out on DVD and I get to own it.
After the movie I dropped the girls off at the friends house, T was spending the night with her, and came back home to dive back into work. Around 5:30 I ended my work day, went and picked up my son from pre-school, then came home and waited for Susan to arrive. Once she was here to watch the boy I went out and cut the jungle that only two weeks before had been a nicely manicured lawn. That completed we had some Taco Bell for dinner and then Susan and I watched Team America-World Police. Very funny movie!
Yesterday, Friday, was much the same. Busy with work all day long. Last night T had an “End of the School Year Slumber Party” and I was the perfect Dad, grilling out hotdogs and keeping the little brother from bothering the girls. I did bribe him to be good with the promise of a Star Wars toy from Wal*Mart.
And now the promised story of the Cruise. May I begin with a song?
“So I’d like to know where, you got the notion
said I’d like to know where, you got the notion
to rock the boat, don’t rock the boat baby
rock the boat, don’t tip the boat over
rock the boat, don’t rock the boat baby
rock the boat-t-t-t-t”
Thursday, May 19th
Once we were packed and ready to leave, we took Trooper to the vet where he was to be neutered and boarded, and set out down I-65 to Mobile, Alabama. The four hour drive flew by thanks to the anticipation we had for our vacation. At the cruise terminal our anticipation turned to dread. You see, we had been told by several people about how expensive the booze is on cruise ships. In case there are those of you who don’t know, everything is inclusive on the boat except all liquor and sodas. We had also been told that the drinks were expensive. Both of our friends had spent anywhere between $700 and $1000 on adult beverages. We were encouraged by Susan’s friend Susie to sneak our own liquor in our suit cases. She said that she had done that twice on two separate cruises and only been caught once. Bringing your own booze is against the rules. If caught all they do is consfigate it, then return it to you when you disembark. Between mine and Susan’s suitcase I had stashed two bottles of Jim Beam and two bottles of vodka. We were a nervous wreck thinking we would be embarrassed in front of others if they were to find the bottles. We imagined countless people looking on, pointing and laughing at our expense.
Once in the terminal we learned that they took all our luggage and it would later be placed outside of your stateroom door once the cruise was underway. Well, at least we wouldn’t have to worry about a public spectacle if it was caught. We proceeded through security and to the check in desk. There we gave them our credit card number and they in turn gave us two “on board credit cards” to use for anything we purchased while on the ship. The purchases would be placed onto my AMEX on the last evening of the cruise.
We boarded the Carnival Cruise Line ship, Holiday and immediately went to the 10th deck where lunch was being served. The ship was packed and I stood in line to get us some food while she went to find a table. After lunch we were able to go to our stateroom and rest a little.
I was expecting some kind of small dinky room with a round porthole in the wall. We were surprised to find that it was much nicer than we expected. Of course our accommodations were on the top level of rooms, the 7th deck. Those on the floors below us may have been smaller. Although the stateroom wasn’t large, by hotel room standards, there was still plenty of room to move around. If I had to guess I would say it was probably 24’ by 24’, with additional space for the bathroom and storage closets. There was even a TV mounted in a corner with satellite network broadcasts from NYC. In the room there was a bottle of champagne on ice with two glasses as well as a plate of chocolate dipped strawberries. These were gifts arranged by my customer, who we were guests of. There was also a card informing us that our room had received a $100 credit for on board purchases thanks to my customer. We were happy to find that out, at least that would be a hundred bucks off whatever our bar tab was at the end of the trip.
We drank the champagne then went back up on deck to watch as we left the Port of Mobile. Once at sea Susan felt like a nap and I decided to do a little exploring. I took a lot of pictures while I walked around and was surprised to find that there was a topless deck. Too bad there wasn’t anyone enjoying the boobs to the breeze freedom when I checked it out.
Finally, around 7pm our luggage was returned to us…booze still hidden in the clothes. We really had been sweating it. Our bags returned we dressed up and attended a cocktail reception hosted by my customer for all their guests, then went to dinner in one of the two fancy dinning rooms. We were seated with three other couples and quickly made friends with all of them. Susan and I split a bottle of wine at dinner, and that coupled with the earlier cocktails was enough to make us want to retire to our room for a little one on one time. Once the loving was complete, and the gravy spilt, we drifted off to sleep.
Friday, May 20th
I guess I should take the time to mention sea sickness. Although the ship was big, you could still feel the slightest movement in the ocean. Susan and I both were concerned about this, having never been on an ocean going vessel. We had brought along some pills to take, but actually we never really needed it. The ride was pretty smooth, until the last day, so there wasn’t much to worry about.
We both slept very well and woke up around 8am ready for our fun filled day at sea. After getting into our swim suits we went on up for breakfast in the buffet style dinning room on the 10th deck. Unimpressed with the food, we discarded our plates and headed out onto the back deck to secure a couple lounge chairs for a day of sun bathing. Before we exited the sliding glass doors to the back pool area, there was one of those ice cream dispensing machines. You know the kind like you find at buffet restaurants. It dispensed both chocolate and vanilla ice cream and yogurt. This machine was to become Susan’s best friend over the next three days.
We lay out on the deck in the sun for about four hours then went in for lunch. After lunch Susan was feeling a little on the horny side so it was back to the room for our own style of “rocking the boat.” The sun, booze and sex had us worn out so we decided to nap for a while. I woke up after about an hour and a half and left her in bed while I went back out for more drinkage and sun. She found me a couple hours later, quite toasted sitting on a lounge chair talking with random folks nearby.
That night is a blur. I can’t remember what it was we did for dinner. I was a little too intoxicated and ended up falling asleep as soon as we got back to the room. Later, after I was more myself, and as Susan slept I went out and sat in a chair on the top deck admiring the stars.
Saturday, May 21st
We awoke at 8am and looked out the stateroom window to find that we had arrived in Cozumel, Mexico. After showers and breakfast we debarked the ship and made our way down the long concrete walkway, over the water and onto the island. My only previous Mexican experience was my trip last November to Tijuana, and I must say that Cozumel is a much cleaner place to visit. Unless you’re looking for strip clubs and whores, then TJ is the place to go. Anyway, we walked down the main strip where all the business were lined up. As we would pass each store we were welcomed by hawking owners to come in and look around. Most of these we smiled and thanked and continued to stroll down the sidewalk. God it was hot! After we had walked a good quarter mile I had sweated through my shirt. Susan was looking specifically for a couple places she wanted to shop and eventually we found them. Several shopping bags in hand, we stopped in for a margarita at an out door restaurant/bar. I ordered two large frozen marg’s and we were informed by the, barely English speaking waiter, that their margarita machine was broken. Uh, hello? This is Mexico…seems they should keep that baby working ship shape. Instead we ordered pina coladas and sat down to rest and have a smoke.
Soon it was time to make our way to the famous Carlos & Charlie’s for our pre selected excursion event. We had the opportunity to sign up for one of three different port of call events and of course we chose the one that involved food and drink! To be honest I wasn’t very impressed with the place and we only stayed for about 45 minutes. On our way back to the ship we stopped in one of those duty free shops and then left ten minutes later with eight bottles of good liquor (Crown, Jack, Absolute, Bacardi) and five cartons of cigarettes and only spent $130. The prices were way too good to pass up. Of course at the time we weren’t aware of the US Customs rule that you could only bring back into the States, one liter of alcohol and one carton of cigs per person. More about that later….
When we got back on the ship we changed into our suits and headed back out to the pool. We laid there in the sun for a couple hours, drank several mango margaritas, and worked on our tans. Odd side note; we were laying in lounge chairs next to a guy and his wife. The guy looked vaguely familiar and I assumed he was an employee of the customer hosting the cruise. The wife got up at one point to go somewhere and soon I also got up to go to the bar. While I was at the bar, waiting to be served (sometimes would it take up to 20 minutes) I noticed Susan and the guy engaged in a conversation. From where I stood I couldn’t tell what was being said, but I could tell they were having a good time laughing and talking. When I returned she introduced me to him and it turned out we went to high school together back in the late 80’s. We talked for a good while and he caught me up on the happenings of many of our mutual friends.
After a while, with Susan feeling pretty buzzed, I was able to convince her to go with me to the topless deck. There were probably ten or twelve chicks there topless and probably half of them should have kept their tops on. Susan bravely freed the puppies after a few minutes, but only briefly. We finished out drinks, she pulled the top back up on her suit and we went to our room to shower. That evening we again went to dinner and met more folks, then hit the sack early.
Sunday, May 22nd
Our last day at sea was pretty much like the others. We spent the day eating, sunning, swimming and drinking. In the evening there was a farewell cocktail party again before dinner. After dinner we retired to our cabin, watched the Desperate Housewives season finale, had wild sex then went to sleep.
Monday, May 23rd
The alarm went off at 6:30am and when we looked out our window we could see the familiar scene of Mobile once more. I went down to the purser’s desk and settled up our tab. All the booze and souvenirs we had purchased while on board came to $470, after the $100 credit. Not as bad as we had thought. We went up for breakfast, and then settled in with everyone else to await our deck to be called for disembarkment. This is where the worry began to settle in. If you will remember, the purchases we made in Cozumel far outweighed the allotment set forth by the government. Some of the stuff we had packed away in our suitcases. Some we had in shopping bags we were carrying off ourselves. I decided to fill out the customs card honestly. With my luck if I were going to try and fool customs by claiming I only had what was allowed, I would probably be the one who was searched upon reentry. Luckily we strolled right up to the customs officer, showed her our ids, handed her the customs card and strolled right through. Man, I was sweating it for nothing. Besides, all that would have happened is we would have had to pay the duty on the extra purchases.
We drove back home and I immediately began doing laundry. At five o’clock that afternoon I headed to the airport for a flight to Nashville, Tennessee. We had a regional meeting there on Tuesday and Wednesday. Wednesday evening I flew back home and the rest, as they say, is history.
I have created a cruise picture album in my gallery. You can click here and see just a few of the many pics Susan and I took. All in all it was a very nice time. I would have liked to have done more that was offered; such as the Broadway style shows, the stand up comedians, the various contests and talent shows and of course the casino. Had we had to actually pay for the trip I would have been damned sure to get my money’s worth. Since it was free we didn’t feel the pressure to “do it all”. Regardless, it was a relaxing experience and a much needed time away for the wife and I.