Monday, April 09, 2007
Sharing the Slide Show - Part 1
So as promised, cruise photos. Cold drinks are on the kitchen counter, some munchies too, then grab a chair. I'll turn down the lights and we can get the show started! (And if you hate seeing someone else's vacation photos, I won't be the least offended. I personally think of it as traveling, with no expense or packing luggage.)

We were told, right off the bat, we were not on a "boat", but rather a SHIP. At 18 stories tall, and 900+ feet long, that seemed reasonable. We came onboard, showing passports, and were given a plastic ID card that was, very cleverly, linked to our credit card. A "cashless cruise". This chap is the Captain, who was very funny, giving his welcome speech. His homeland was Scotland.

To purchase anything, you showed your card, worn around your neck. Don bought us a "stamp", which covered diet coke fixes, rather than shelling out $1.75 for each one.

This is the Caribbean Princess, largest in their fleet of ships.

If you were in the middle of the ship, or even near the ends, where the three elevator shafts were, you could forget it was in fact a ship, not a huge hotel. Artwork on the walls, huge plants. Then the plants would shake a bit, and you were reminded this was a hotel on the move.

Long corriders ran the length of the ship on each side, leading to the staterooms. We had a little room, with a double bed, a huge closet area, a funny little bathroom where you could almost brush your teeth in the shower but there was always hot water with good pressure, and then a balcony with a slide door to go out. There were also rooms inside, without windows, but we purposely chose one with a balcony so I could get fresh air and keep my bearings. I've taken too many car rides with my head hanging out the window to even attempt a room with four walls and no outside air. The tougher souls stayed in those. They saved money too.

Possibly our favorite spot on the entire ship was our little balcony. Every morning the staff brought us continental breakfast, which we enjoyed outdoors. We'd sit in provided robes, sipping coffee, and plan our day. Watch the world roll by. Feel/taste the salt in the air. I felt a kindred connection to Noah, when I realized we had not seen a single bird for two days. We were too far out. On the third day I knew land was near, when a seagull flew by. Strangely enough, I never saw a single fish jump. All that water and no signs of fish. I heard a group saw a whale surface repeated times, off the back of the ship. There were 3400 guests, and 1200 staff. Any request was met with graciousness. Fresh towels three times a day, fresh fruit in our room, bedding turned down with chocolates on our pillows. 24 hour room service was free. The TV in our room had a channel where we could see what the captain saw (lots of water), and another one reported sea conditions. They also did a morning show, telling us the happenings of the day aboard. CNN, a few movie channels, cartoons were also available. We didn't go on a cruise to watch CNN. For a week I did not hear a phone ring, watch TV, or go on the internet. It was heavenly to do what they promoted - completely escape.

Early Monday morning the sea conditions were classified "Rough". I'd put on a patch two days before, and was amazed to see 14 foot waves, liquids in glasses sloshing, plants waving, feeling the movement but not being ill. Normally I can't even watch fan blades turn. My only reservation about taking the cruise was that I would be sick and ruin it for Don. It made me think of life in general, how hard it often is, and how gracious God is not to show us what lies just around a corner. Manna for today I call it. If I'd know the seas would be "rough" I would have been afraid to take the trip. Yet, once I was in the midst of it, covered in prayer and a patch, I was amazingly fine. Much like raising a teenager, or in the middle of 15 or so years of marriage. Who, bringing a newborn into the world, dwells on the fact that they will someday morph into a 13 year old with an attitude. Not good to look too far ahead! The captain came on the speaker the next morning, apologizing, saying he'd heard many of us were ill. Not me. I was amazed all week long with how okay I was. I also never had more than one glass of wine at night. I was quite content to keep my feeling of all feet on the floor.

There were three huge dining rooms on the ship, plus two other speciality restaurants. Two open buffets, a grill, a pizzeria and an ice cream bar. Several bars, a coffeebar too. Five pools, all with hot tubs, some for adults only which we appreciated. We saw every form of body you can imagine during the week, and after a day or so, it just didn't matter. Beautiful or not, I began to not notice. Most every female wore a two piece swimsuit, regardless of body shape or size, something I found refreshing. It was especially charming the night we celebrated our anniversary, serenaded by our two waiters, while they held up a chocolate cake, complete with Princess insignia around the sides. We both enjoyed dressing up for the two formal nights. It felt like prom for adults. Dance classes were held every day and we attempted learning the Swing. We got the steps right, but were completely off-beat. We weren't alone - there were in fact enough of us off-beat to plead a case for being right in time!

If there was a second favorite spot, it was Movie Under the Stars. One of the main pools had an enormous flatscreen above it, and movies showed from 8 am til midnight. In the evening, they'd clear out the pools, cover all the deck loungers with warm pads, each had a flannel blanket placed on it, and we curled up and enjoyed two movies. Our last night on the ship was spent there, watching the basketball playoffs, under a full moon, and I thought of how perfect a night it was. In the middle of the ocean, snuggled under the covers next to Don, a group of mostly 30-40 year old men, cheering on their teams. We watched The Queen and The Illisionist, and walked through during the day to see Jurassic Park or Harry Potter or a James Bond movie showing, with a pool full of people splashing while they watched.

Photo on the left is leaving Ft. Lauderdale - photo on the right, one of the small adult pools that looked off the back of the ship. It was not heated, so we stuck with sunbathing from this spot!

Well, that's enough for today. If you've never been on a cruise, hopefully you have a sense of what the ship was like. If you've been on one, maybe it brought back wonderful memories of your own. I'll be back in a day or so to tell you about St. Maarten, St. Thomas and the Bahamas. The people, the crazy driving, the creatures, the beaches. It was beautiful beyond words, and we're already looking forward to when we can go back to the island life.


  posted at 9:30 AM

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