King Rat (gkr) wrote,
King Rat

On the Carnival Glory

The first thing I should say about the cruise is that I hate cruises. I’ve taken two short cruises before, and didn’t enjoy them one bit. So why did I get on a ship for seven days? Because 21 of my friends were also on the ship. I very much enjoyed hanging out with them for a week. I also looked forward to a week away from the internet. I suppose I could have paid for some internet time but it was outrageously expensive. And no way was I going to try to catch up using only my phone connected to spotty wifi while in a port of call. So I got a lot of reading done.

Planned itinerary for the cruise

8 January 2012 – Embarkation

Before packing up, I checked Facebook. Everyone on the cruise was posting last minute goodbyes and whatnot. Including one from Patrick where he bemoaned the fact that the Winn-Dixie didn’t carry the San Pellegrino Limonata that he wanted to bring on the cruise for a mixer. As it happened, I had a case of San Pellegrino in my car, so I promised him I’d bring him a 6-pack. He seemed kind of amazed.

Packing up took a bit, since I brought nearly everything up to my room on the 3rd floor. Packing it all back down to the car while dodging lots of other people checking out weren’t easy. In the process, I managed to drop my phone on a chair in the lobby, but didn’t notice. That led to some frantic searching through my car, then requesting a room key so I could check my room again, then texting my phone from my tablet hoping to hear it beep, then looking at Mobile Defense on my tablet only to find out they block using the site from mobile devices. Not quite sure what to do, I got out of my car to head back into the lobby to seek additional assistance from the front desk. But waiting by the front door was the front desk gentleman along with another guest who found the phone. I thanked them profusely for finding my phone.

Next up was heading to the Hotel Astor on Miami Beach where Erin and Daniel stayed the night. I’d told Erin I would give the two of them a ride to the terminal. The plan was to get brunch first, but Erin’s need for coffee got them out of the hotel early and apparently Daniel didn’t want to walk back to the hotel just to return to the coffee place. So I had an empanada they picked up from our planned brunch spot (which was also Erin’s coffee source). Then we walked out to South Beach for a bit so Erin could get some sand and feel the ocean in her toes. Plus a bit of wandering before we realized Daniel already had everything he needed for the cruise.

Daniel and Erin on South Beach

Daniel and Erin on South Beach

The night before I looked up parking at the cruise terminal to find out where to go. In one of the first times I have ever clicked on a sponsored link, I registered for a week’s worth of parking at Premier Parking. They charged $6 a day rather than the $20 that the terminal charged. The signs for the lot weren’t easy to see though, resulting in a little bit of driving around trying to find it. And it meant we had to shuttle to the terminal. But that’s a significant cost savings. Which I ended up spending on lattés on board.

Embarkation is a little bit of a clusterfuck. The equivalent of skycaps handling luggage were operating in a large jumble of suitcases. Then a long line waiting to go through security. And then a line to scan my boarding pass. And then one of three lines to pick up my Sail and Sign card (I got the slow line, of course). And then a line to get on the boat, which also doubled as the line to get a photo that would be associated with the S&S card. I think we could get a free drink at that point, but I don’t drink and I just wanted to avoid the people milling about in the atrium on the ship, so I ducked down a corridor that didn’t have people, walked a ways down the ship to find the next stairwell, and then proceeded up to deck 7, the Empress Deck to find cabin 7-448.

Cabin 7-448 was an aft facing cabin with a rather large deck (75 square feet according to Expedia). I was a bit surprised. I had booked with the Carnival rep that Brittany (not her real name) worked through to set up the cruise, and had merely requested a balcony cabin close to everyone else. I figured on getting a balcony on the side of the ship, which are pretty cramped. I hadn’t looked anything up at all about the cruise beforehand, including what kind of cabin the rep had put me on. Having something that large was a pleasant surprise. Also, since several people possibly going on the cruise had backed out, I ended up having the cabin to myself, which meant I had a lot of room inside as well.

I don’t remember what I did while waiting for the cruise to actually begin. I know I chatted with Amanda and Andy (in the cabin next to mine) and with Brittany and John (the next cabin over) for a bit. I might also have sat on that balcony and read my book for a while. When the ship did cast off, I watched from my balcony as we headed out from Dodge Island by Miami Beach and all the other exclusive islands around there. Then I wandered around the upper decks for a bit. My luggage arrived around 7 p.m. Unpacking didn’t take too long, since I could spread out and use all the dresser space.

South Beach from the Carnival Glory

South Beach from the Carnival Glory

First dinner was at 8:15 that evening, but about half of our group made reservations at the steak house restaurant. The remainder of us took up just one table (except Jason and Calissa who sat at the other 10 person table by themselves). Here was the first bad thing on the cruise. The food is awful. As in, worse than my mother’s cooking. It’s impossible to adequately describe how bad the food is on the Carnival Glory. In my entire time on the ship, the best items I ate could only be described as okay. Erin was already drunk when she arrived at the table. She and Michael were our entertainment.

The rest of the evening I sat on my balcony reading and then later listening to my audio book. I finished both either that night or the next morning, but I’d started the audio book (Nancy Kress’ Probability Moon) somewhere around Oklahoma on my driving trip and the book (Nisi Shawl’s Filter House) two weeks earlier when I was still at home in Seattle. I didn’t have a lot left to go on either.

9 January 2012 – Fun Day at Sea

My day consisted pretty much entirely of lounging on deck 10, the Panorama Deck, getting some sun and reading Charlaine Harris Dead Until Dark, the first book in her Southern Vampire series. That book turned out to be the perfect book for a cruise: entertaining and not too deep. I finished it in one day. For a while Erin and Michael joined me on the deck.

I think the only other thing I did that day (other than eat with everyone at dinner) was join a largish contingent of our group for a tea at 4:30. Unfortunately, Carnival’s idea of tea starts with Bigelow teas in the little foil packs. This is where you should mentally insert the emoticon for nonplussed face if you like emoticons.

Oh yeah, and I did chat with a cute couple from North Carolina who were celebrating their 2 year anniversary with this cruise. I was wearing my Read to Me t-shirt from Unshelved, which the woman saw. This was notable because she wanted to actually read to me. She opened my book at my bookmark and read a page. It’s the first time someone has actually read to me since I was a child, despite wearing the shirt a couple dozen times over the last two years.

10 January 2012 – Cozumel

I did not purchase a shore excursion for Cozumel. The plan to to get off the ship and wander around with folks from our group. After a bit of walking, we realized that the main part of Cozumel was too far to get to on foot, so we piled the lot of us into a minivan cab. It dropped us off in front of a jewelry store where I’m sure he got a kickback if we bought anything. We didn’t even glance at the store. We were going to wander around for a while and meet up with Keenan at a restaurant he said had a sign letter beef shirt. Keenan’s ability to give directions is a little lacking though, and we never found the place.

We did, however, find a slightly out of the way restaurant called La Candela (on Calle 6 Norte one block east of Rafael E. Melgar road). Food was cheap and delicious. I got a grilled fish taco. It’s a touristy restaurant, but that applies to everything in Cozumel.

Fish tacos at La Candela

Fish tacos at La Candela

After lunch, we walked around some more and finally made it to the main square. I bought myself a Cruz Azul jersey at one place. I was surprised at how hard it was to find Mexican football team jerseys. I think I saw a total of two shops that carried any. Meanwhile every other shop carried N.F.L. items. Why go all the way to Mexico just to buy shitty American themed stuff? That’s rhetorical, by the way. After an hour or so of high pressure touts up and down the streets, I was tired of it all and so was everyone else in my group. So we got cabs back to the cruise terminal area. I planned to get back on the boat and relax, and the rest of the crowd wanted to find a beach and hang out. As I had sweated off my sunscreen by then, that wasn’t a good option for me.

The only other thing of note from Tuesday was that I found the Creams Cafe on board. That’s the coffee bar. The evening person there was Daria, a cute 20-something from somewhere in eastern Europe that I forget. Unlike everything else on board, she made an latté that was actually decent. I found that after dinner, but on subsequent days I got my latté in the early evening and then read in the comfy chairs nearby.

11 January 2012 – Costa Maya

I didn’t sleep well overnight. That was probably because of the latt&eacute after 10 p.m. Not so much the caffeine. I can usually handle my caffeine particularly since it was the only caffeine I had that evening. Rather I woke up about 10 times having to pee. When morning rolled around, I was cranky and tired.

Since I didn’t have a shore excursion, I elected to stay on board and relax rather than test my mood against the relentless hawking of wares that I was sure to experience on shore. The ship was relatively empty, and the adults only Serenity Deck was even quieter. I alternated between reading the first volume of Wild Cards and listening to an audio book of Moon Called by Patricia Briggs. By bed time, I finished Wild Cards.

12 January 2012 – Roatan Island

For Roatan Island in Honduras, I purchased a shore excursion that promised to be a nature walk in Gumbalimba Park. Unfortunately for me, Gumbalimba Park is not a nature park. I was expected a somewhat canned short walk with a guide pointing out things that were pretty much on placards. In other words, not expecting much. My expectations were too high. There is nothing natural about Gumbalimba Park. The streams run in concrete culverts. The caves are created out of concrete. The tour showed us just four kinds of wildlife: iguanas, capybaras, monkeys, and several varieties of parrots. All of them are tame and some are chained or in cages. Line up, get a couple of photos with a bird on your shoulder. Line up, get a couple of photos with a monkey on your shoulder. If you don’t have someone with you to take the photos, you get to pay Gumbalimba for a few photos from their photographers.

Iguanas Bird
Monkey on a guy's shoulder Fake cannons
relief map of Roatan Island

The most interesting thing about the tour was the drive to and from Gumbalimba Park from Mahogany Bay, where the ship docks. The island looks like a lot of fun with lots of nature that can be reached quickly and lots of places to hang out and eat or just relax. I would like to go there some day and just toodle around.

After the excursion, I got a latté and read C.J. Cherryh’s Foreigner on the Promenade Deck for the evening. Mary Rose joined me for a time as well.

In the evening, we all joined on the deck to watch as the ship departed the dock. We did that at Cozumel and Costa Maya as well. The bonus is you get to watch people who didn’t watch the time well run to catch the boat before they pulled in the gangways. On both of those ports, the dock is quite long so the people have to run a bit. But on Roatan Island, the dock is pretty close to the cluster of shops so the walk is very short. Still, we witnessed someone miss the boat. It looked like she just spent way to much time in the duty free shop that everyone who disembarks is forced to push their way through to enter or leave the boat. She stepped out just as the ship was pulling away, leaned up against a railing and then put her face in her arms in disbelieving resignation before turning around and heading back into the shop to figure out what to do next. Keenan got photos. We are awful people.

13 January 2012 – Grand Cayman

The Glory didn’t arrive at Grand Cayman until about 10 a.m. A group of us got off the ship (via tender, no dock this time), grabbed a cab, and headed to Seven Mile Beach and ended up at Calico Jack’s, a tourist restaurant on the beach. After eating, they didn’t have much natural shade so I rented an umbrella and chaise lounge and sat on the beach and read Foreigner some more. It was bright, and there were many pretty women in bikinis, so I only got 30 or so pages read in 3 hours. I am easily distracted by people walking around, particularly when they are good looking members of the opposite sex. If they are just sitting someplace, I do better. But the flicker of movement at the corner of my eye makes me look and I keep looking if it’s something interesting (attractive person, family having fun, intriguing tattoo, etc.).

View from my lounge chair

View from my lounge chair

After a while I found it hard to keep my lounge chair in the shadow created by the umbrella and I didn’t trust that I still had much in the way of sunscreen on. So I gathered my belongings and headed back to ship. Where I changed and joined Mary Rose on the Promenade to read some more and drink lattés.

After dinner, our group had planned to have an international version of Hardcore German Sparkle Party. However, the main instigator of this plan was Keenan. On our way to dinner, he’d stepped off the elevator then turned the other way telling us that he’d catch up to us in a minute or two. He never made it to dinner. After dinner, we found him passed out on his bed in his cabin. So we postponed our mini sparkle party to the cruise’s final day.

Keenan is SEXY

Keenan is SEXY (Photo by Dominique Ryder)

14 January 2012 – Fun Day at Sea

The Glory was in the Florida Straits for most of the final day. The weather was cloudy and windy. I spent much of it reading on my balcony, which was sheltered from most of the wind. I wanted to go up to the Serenity Deck but it was closed due to the strong breeze. It got more sun, what there was of it.

Brittany brought Apples to Apples and started a game of that in the Cinn-A-Bar lounge with most of our crew. Mary Rose didn’t feel like joining, so I relaxed with her on the Promenade Deck and read as well. But after the first game finished, Brittany returned to our couches and talked Mary Rose into joining, so I joined as well. That game took nearly 3 hours, as a game of Apples to Apples is not short when about 18 people are playing. We had to take several breaks for people to use the facilities too. They were all trying to finish off the booze they’d smuggled onto the Glory.

After dinner, I donned my sparkle party gear, which wasn’t all that elaborate. I wore the shirt and sequined pants I wore for Sparkle Party 2010, and the sequined hat I wore for Sparkle Party 2011. As the on board night club, White Heat, didn’t open until 10 p.m., I killed some time by strutting around the ship to see what kind of reaction I would get. I got quite a few strange looks, as well as a number of thumbs ups, and a few approving comments. The highlight was a mid-40s Greek-Canadian woman (she told me her name, but I forget — I know her nationality because I overheard several of her conversations with the guide on the Roatan Island excursion) wanting to get her photo with me from one of the myriad Carnival photo people on the Promenade Deck. Her husband stood by and glared as we had a couple of photos snapped. I don’t know this really, but he looked like he hadn’t relaxed and had fun the whole trip.

At 10 p.m., several of us headed into White Heat and started dancing (and some drinking). Most of our sparkle party crowd didn’t arrive until 10:45 or so. However, from then until midnight we owned the dance floor making a complete spectacle of ourselves. Through having and obvious good time as well as some female persuasion we managed to get another dozen or so people on the dance floor.

Phil and Erin sparkling

Phil and Erin sparkling (Photo by Dominique Ryder)

I bailed just before midnight so I could get out of my sparkle wear and get it into luggage that was supposed to be picked up at midnight by Carnival staff for disembarkation the next morning. My carry on bag was my laptop backpack, which isn’t built for clothing. I wanted all my clothes but what I planned to wear to be in my luggage rather than have to be stuffed in awkwardly in the backpack. And putting sequined pants in the pack would have meant I’d be seeing sequins come out of it for years afterward. Also, I’m old and like to be in bed early.

Thus endeth my cruise. Actual disembarkation story to appear in the next post.

crossposted from King Rat.

Tags: cruise, life, road trip

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