Friday, March 27, 2015

Set Sail | Royal Caribbean Cruise

My blogging hiatus is officially over. You can visit Instagram to see what I've been doing since the New Year began. In a nut shell it includes quality time with my brother, a weekend at Steamboat with our Raleigh friends, a quick work trip to Seattle, and some weekend exploring and boozin' with Mr. B.

I decided to make my grand come back with a post about our first cruise.

Let me first introduce our crew:
  • Steph: The Planner. While majority of us sat back with little to no input, we offered our credit card information and let Steph book and plan our entire vacation. Perks of knowing a travel agent!
  • Scotty J: The Socializer. While two of us were waiting on him to climb the ship rock wall, he was off meeting Penn State alumni and drinking more booze - the one thing the rock wall guide told us we weren't allowed to have before climbing.
  • Danielle: The Sober One. While majority of us were chugging Carona's and chasing beer carts on the island, she was guzzling bottles of water and expressing how dehydrated she was. I am concerned what that made the rest of us - prunes?
  • Chad: The Gambler. While the men on this trip admired his luck in Black Jack, they were too intimidated to join him. Though, it crossed their mind to offer him money to play for them.
  • Sandy: The Napper. While some of us were getting carried away at the pool or beach, you could find her on a lounge chair or in a hammock catching some Zzz's - wearing amazing hats may I add. The rest of us were just mad we didn't spot the hammock first.
  • Bryan: The White One. While the rest of us were getting fried by the sun, Bryan managed to leave more white than when he arrived. Maybe Bryan needs to teach the rest of us how to apply sunscreen because I packed $45 worth of SPF bottles and still came home peeling like a snake.
  • Scott: The Drinker. While we surrounded the piano-man signing Country Road at the top of our lungs, Mr. B was contemplating climbing on top of the piano. I can assure you that would have been a sure way for us to be introduced to the life vests they had sitting in our room - by throwing us overboard.
  • Kylie: The Crier. Rather than swim with the sting rays like everyone else, I was sobbing and climbing Sandy and Bryan like a ladder. Thankfully they were there to remind me to breathe, while my husband was off giggling with the boys and snuggling starfish.

Day one: We arrived at the airport an hour before Danielle and Chad. So how do the B's waste time? Drink beer. We had a rad gay bartender named Mathew, who was born and raised in Danville, Pennsylvania. Mr. B was served his first Lima-a-Rita and the three of us talked about how lucky we were to have moved away from the harsh northeast winters.

Once The Gambler and Sober ones met us with their bags, we made our way to the Hilton Marina in Fort Lauderdale and headed straight for the pool. It didn't take long to meet a "wealthy" couple who had expensive taste - chilled patron with an orange slice. We inquired about their switch from a traditional lime to an orange, and in a matter of minutes, they sent us a round across the bar to try for ourselves. Danielle slept on a cabana at the pool while the three of us celebrated the start of vacation! Understand why she was named the Sober One? Technically, she could also be mistaken as The Napper!

Day two: The other half of our crew drove 12 hours the day before from Atlanta to Miami. Since they had a car, the Socializer offered his taxi service and picked the 4 of us up to take us to Port.  The check in process was unlike anything I ever imagined. In my head, I envisioned a ticket counter, similar to what you see at a fair and a wooden ramp built to the entrance of the ship. Boy was I dead wrong. It's more like airport security with many more stops along the way. Most importantly, one with a professional photographer! We were dressed like leprechauns and held a festive sign that the Planner and Napper made. We said cheese and continued on our lucky way.
Who's who?

Once on board, we learned our way around the 1980's gold-decorated ship rather quickly. It is one of the smallest ships in the fleet, so it didn't take much exploring to find the necessities: our life vests/boat (in the event of an emergency), the 360 bar, the pool bars, the rock wall, Ping-Pong tables, and endless soft-serve ice cream.
Life vests are best worn without pants

The boat set sail at 5:00PM during a downpour, so we washed a few Dramamine down with beers and watched out the windows as we left the port.

That evening we met some of the best servers on the ship - Raj and Di - and found ourselves slapping our legs in laughter during the evening comedy show.

The ladies went to bed. The men stayed out. And The Gambler walked away with more money than he played. #hedidntshare

Day three: We were awoken the following morning by the Socializer. He was whispering "Stranger Danger" and looming over Mr. B's face saying, "you left your door open all night." He wasn't kidding. More than likely triggered by our our non-window'd room and my fear of small spaces, I had a dream that night about being claustrophobic. I got up in a sweat, opened our room door and paced the hallway. I must have never shut the door when I returned and left it open for the rest of the ship guests to parade on in. Good thing it was people we knew and not other sleepwalkers.
A banana should always be served on a platter?

Nonetheless, The Planner was right behind him with mimosa's in share :)

Following our nice wake up call, we got in line to get off our ship and onto another boat. It's called a tender and takes you from the big ship, to land, when the cruise ship can't anchor near land. We were off to CoCo Cay island - an island that is only for Royal Caribbean cruise guests. Jealous?
Tender ride

To waste time before our excursion, we wandered the island. Then we were off to swim with 42 very large stingrays. Everyone wanted to do this excursion, but me. Majority rules when you are with a group of people. So off we went. Each and every one of us could share stories from that experience, but I will summarize it for you: They loved it, I hated it. They laughed, I cried. They held them, I ran from them. While they swam in search of more sea creatures, I swam for the dock. It nearly gave me a panic attack, but gave my dear friends some of the best memories of this trip. I am thankful so many in our crew had go-pros or water-proof cameras to capture the footage.

After that adventure, we spent the rest of the day lounging on the beach, attempting hand stands, taking pictures, jumping around (a lot), meeting Penn State Alum, shooting air-shots on the basketball court, taking naps, eating pineapple, having inappropriate conversations, chasing cocks (the rooster kind), and drinking rum punch and endless coronas.
The said hammock and The Napper

At this point, Bryan and Sandy wished we would have dropped our cameras in the ocean. 

That evening on board the ship was reserved for formal night. So we dressed our best, ordered multiple entrees (per person), ate some very good and very bad desserts, and swayed with the ship during a very poor comedy magician show - who knew that even existed?

Day four: We arose alone this morning, without the Socializer looming over us and found ourselves off the boat and ready to roam Nassau - AKA a sketchy-without-power city in the Bahamas.

After taking 317 photos in front of the ship, we wandered our way to the straw market. It was here where we learned the city was without power. The generator|power plant that electrifies the entire city, blew up a couple of days prior. What a fine way to greet guests, Bahamas! Although, there was enough light coming from the open-air walkways that we continued looking at all the junk the locals were peddling. Well mostly junk: walking turtles, wood carved penis bottle openers, knick knacks, license plates, masks of all kinds, and of course straw goods.

After The Napper negotiated a gorgeous straw hat, we headed straight to the Hilton British Colonial Resort in hopes that they would have their own generator. They did, for a short while, until theirs also blew up a few hours into our visit. You may be asking yourself who needs power when you're sitting on the beach? People that want food for lunch, cold beer, and don't want to use their iPhone flashlight to use the restroom. First world problems! They did however get their generator issue figured out and we thoroughly enjoyed their outdoor amenities while they did - beach chairs, kayak racing and pier jumping!
Personal Fav: Photobombed by a 7 year old (that we didn't know)

On our way back to the ship, we stopped for some local conch fritters. I can't really tell you what they are, but they're deep-fried and anything deep-fried is worth trying. Once back on board, three of us [The Planner, Socializer and Crier] decided to give the rock wall a try. Can you even comprehend a rock wall on a cruise? Being a cruise virgin, I couldn't. But it's there and it was real my friends. We approached the rock wall guide with booze in our hand and were told, "Drink that and come back." Climbing a rock wall under the influence was not advised, but this cruise man must have been feeling like a rebel that day. We climbed like pros and rang the bell. #beercourage

We knew our weekend was nearing an end, so we went out with a bang. We toasted with champagne in the hallway outside our room, danced in a conga line at dinner, made one of our servers blush from all the attention we gave him, sat around a piano singing at the top of our lungs and learned more than we ever wanted to know about each other during a live-interactive-adult-only game called Quest. I won't ruin the surprise for you in case you have plans to travel on a future Royal Caribbean Cruise, but if you ever have the chance to participate, don't think twice! Let's just say, one of us was seen on all fours barking like a dog, one with an empty purse, one with lipstick on his face, one dressed as the opposite sex, one in their favorite sex position, one without a bra, and one holding a strangers false teeth!

That's a wrap guys! It was a long one and involved a lot of jumping, beaching and drinking. But that's what I like to call a successful cruise vacation with friends.


PS. If you are looking for a travel agent, that will help you find the perfect destination, plan a daily agenda (if you want one) and provide you the best travel advice - pick the best, my friend Stephanie Gensamer:

PS2. We added another Pennsylvania native to the group and two new Terrible Towel Photos to our collection!

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