Tuesday, May 11, 2010

Cruise Control

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(I usually steal take  borrow photos from Flickr,but this one is an actual photograph of my husband and I at Half Moon Cay-with our ship on the horizon.)

I’m back.

I just returned from a week long vacation that was out of the ordinary for me.

I’m used to camping in a tent- eating Bar-S hotdogs and generic potato chips. Or sprawling out in a small hotel room the size of a millionaire’s closet, watching fuzzy cable and reading the phone book.

This year, my husband and I went on a cruise to the Eastern Caribbean. Nice? Yes. I am lucky I got to experience it all. But, I am here today to give all you cruisin’ wanna- be’s a head’s up before you set sail on your own adventure.

First of all, the basic rate of cruises is fairly affordable. You have to take into consideration that your ship is your hotel for the length of your stay. Let’s just say five nights…A hotel at $100 a night would be $500. Then add the cost of meals on an ordinary vacation. For two people at three meals a day…maybe $50 if you don’t splurge too much. So, there is another $250. Then figure gasoline. Already we are just about at the cost of a cruise for two (excluding air fare).

On my trip I got to see three different islands-which was my favorite part. I’m not a swimmer, or a sunbather, but just seeing the blue sky and clear water was a real treat. It’s beautiful in person. Photos can’t do it justice.

All meals on the ship are free and you can eat as much and as often as you like. There was a nice breakfast buffet with dozens of pastry choices, fresh fruits and omelets cooked to order.

Lunch consisted of burgers and franks, potato salads and slaws. Other places offered deli sandwiches as thick as your leg, gourmet pizza,Chinese cuisine and fresh sushi.

We opted to eat dinner in the formal dining room, just for a nice change. Although there was one formal night, men were usually asked to wear collared shirts -and no flip flops. Shorts were acceptable. Women dressed casually also.

Our waiters were excellent and the menu varied daily. One night it was shrimp and lobster- and I also had lasagna, stuffed mushrooms and broccoli soup that was delicious. Dessert and coffee topped off the night.

It was all you can drink coffee and tea. Unlimited ice cream cones, too. Be prepared for some major calories.

Warning: All alcoholic drinks and beer cost money. Plus- they automatically add on the tip. A beer was $5.75 and mixed drinks about $8. You can see where that can add up fairly quickly if you drink with abandon. Keep track of what you’re spending.  They don’t take cash. You must present your Sail and Sign card for every purchase on the ship. Then they  charge your debit or credit card that you put on file.

One good tip:

Don’t go out and buy a bunch of expensive cruise wear for your trip. They frown on cut off jeans and slob-wear, but nice everyday attire is what you will wear most days. One or two dressy outfits are necessary.

I ended up buying some dressy tops and dresses- only to wish I had packed more casual tees and comfortable footwear. There is a lot of walking!

Of course, if you have the body for it, you can pretty much spend the day in your bathing suit- (with a tasteful cover-up when you wander too far from the pool area).

We took one excursion on a small boat where we could see the fish on underwater reefs. The little windows were foggy and the water not so clear, so it was a huge disappointment to me. The brochure showed people in awe, watching colorful blue and yellow tropical fish swimming in crystal clear water. Didn’t happen. And it cost us a hundred dollars for an hour and a half. Lesson learned.

There are several bars, a casino, pools and hot tubs, shuffle board, karaoke, (which I actually did perform “Crazy” by Patsy Cline on stage without a drink in me…yikes!),comedians, and special shows.

We just spent most of our days on the deck watching the sun rise or set – or walked around the boat to the different floors.

The pool area was a virtual Spring Break for college kids type of atmosphere with dancing and music and all the craziness that is no longer part of my vocabulary. I tried my best to steer my husband clear of the bosomy babes, but once in awhile we were trapped in the coconut grease of almost-naked bodies as we made our way to the buffet line.

Mostly we ate.

And slept.

And ate again. And napped again. And had us some more ice cream.

On the second night, we laid in bed staring at the ceiling, un-notching our waist bands a couple of inches and we both said at the same time, “I’m ready to go home…”

Later, when we got off the boat to see the islands, it was a bit better. But we missed our home and our dog and our family.

We discovered we are not cruise people. We rather have the feel of grass beneath our feet instead of sand. We prefer the shade of a forest to the hot sun. We like to go barefoot all day and wear pajama pants and put our elbows on the dinner table. We like our country. Our bed. Our life.

But it was a wonderful experience and I will never forget it.

Oh- and Dee- I love me some conch fritters!


I want to apologize for not visiting you all, but I wasn’t connected for over a week. I am going to try to play catch-up for the next few days because I miss reading all my favorite blogs. I appreciate your loyalty while I was away. It means a lot to me.

Now…it’s back to laundry and mowing and all that other stuff that really isn’t so bad after all…

It’s good to be back.