Friday, December 14, 2012

Caribbean Cruise - Day 1

So I've been a little shy about bragging about our cruise, but a lot of people have asked me for more details and you have to give the people what they want.

Also, I have thought of another way to justify being a braggart.  I knew NOTHING about cruises going into this, so in some ways I wish more of my friends had bragged about their cruises so I would have known more of what to expect. The unknown was kinda stressful for me. In the end, I found friends to tell me more about cruising before I went, so all was well.  But I'm going to share about our trip in the hopes that it might help someone else somehow if they're considering a cruise.

I want to state for the record that this was a big deal for us.  We are not insanely wealthy and able to flit off to do this sort of thing all the time. In fact, when we got married we both talked and decided to opt for a simpler honeymoon in favor of a big trip later. We were newlyweds, so we had tons of fun driving to a nearby town for a few days and sleeping in a Super 8 Motel for our honeymoon.

But now - 10 years and 3 kids later - NOW was the time for the big trip.  We actually had things we needed a vacation from now.  The timing worked out.  No babies and my parents live nearby and could help watch the kids. So we went for it and I'm so glad we did.


Day #1 - Boarding in Galveston

View from the "scenic" Port of Galveston, TX.

We decided to cruise with Royal Caribbean.  It seemed like the feel of that cruise line was the best match for our expectations and personalities. We weren't cruising to get drunk and party.  But we also weren't super old and boring (or at least I like to flatter myself that we're not).  Royal Caribbean seemed to fit the bill.  Once we chose RC, we limited ourselves to the cruises available out of Galveston so that we didn't have to pay for or hassle airfare in addition to the cruise. And that pretty much left one ship to choose from:

The Mariner of the Seas (part of Royal Caribbean's Voyager class of ships)

Our ship left on a Sunday, so we left the kids to spend the night at my parents' house on Saturday night and came home and packed until about 1:30 am.  Then we woke up early Sunday and attended a different ward (congregation) that meets at our same church building, but at an earlier time (8:30 am). We only stayed long enough to take the sacrament, then we hit the road for Galveston. A drive of about 4 hours.

The only bummer about this whole thing was that M and I both caught colds before our trip.  I was about a week into my cold and M was only a couple days into his when we left.  By the end of the cruise I was mostly better, but M was sick pretty much the whole time. It wasn't that bad but it was embarrassing to cough and blow your nose in public all the time.  If you can enjoy a trip as much as we did despite the fact that you have a terrible cold, it MUST be a great vacation!!!

The fact that I got almost completely better halfway through the week except for a wheezy cough has made me wonder if I was just having asthma from allergies at the end even though my cold was gone.  But I don't know what would have caused it?  Am I allergic to sea air??? Cigarette smoke?  There wasn't much smoke - just a whiff here and there when we would pass a bar or the stairs to the casino or when someone else was out on their balcony smoking, but that's still a lot more than I ever encounter cigarette smoke in my normal life of Mormon stay-at-home momming in suburbia. (Seriously, religious reasons aside, who still smokes in this day and age? No one where we live seems to smoke anymore. I have to conclude that the reason we saw so much smoking on the cruise is that the only people who still smoke are old people and there are a disproportionate number of old people on cruises.)

We stood in line FOREVER in order to board.  People with previous experience said it was much worse than usual. I was extremely grateful that we had the porters take our luggage so that we were not dragging it in line with us.

I tried very hard to be patient when M admitted that he'd had a sore throat and runny nose on the health forms.  I knew they were mostly worried about flu or gastrointestinal illnesses and I just had a common cold so I didn't tell them about it.  I am not as honest as him.  M got to wait in line AGAIN for the nurse to come talk to him and take his temperature and then make him promise to wash his hands a lot. Then finally we got on the ship, and everything was pretty great!

We spoiled ourselves with a balcony stateroom:

(Note: This shot was taken in Jamaica but I include it here to show what the balcony looked like. Unfortunately, those turquoise waters are not Galveston.)

M is an introvert and he was nervous about constantly feeling surrounded by too many people on the ship.  In the end, I think it wasn't as bad as he feared, but the balcony was our insurance.  There were A LOT of people on the ship, but the ship is so big and well laid out that nowhere we went ever felt that crowded and it seemed fairly easy to find little corners and places to be mostly alone.  I think we would have been okay without the balcony.

That being said, the balcony was glorious.

We enjoyed watching the dolphins in the water while we waited for the ship to depart:

Not a very clear picture (they were hard to catch), but you can kind of see the tail just under the surface in this shot:

We watched the sun set from our balcony as we set sail:


If you're looking for the later installments, you can find them here:

Day 2 - At sea
The Diet Soda Debacle
Day 3 - Cozumel

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