Cruise Archive · 2002 Review

It Was a Lovely Cruise, 2002
by Gwyn Besner

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The sun illuminated the topaz sky as the day began. I had waited for this moment for a lifetime. I had not taken a vacation of more than four days for over twenty-five years. That includes our honeymoon twelve and a half years ago. So, I guess this was a honeymoon for us.

I am a bit of a worry-wart. The motel shuttle was not leaving until 1:00 pm and I wanted to be there earlier than that. We took the alternate shuttle to the airport so we could get on the Carnival shuttle to the boat. When we finally got to the dock it was about 1:30 pm (the same time as the motel shuttle).

I am so glad Eugene tolerates me. We checked our bags and got in line to disembark. As this was our first cruise, the entire process was somewhat intimidating. We had our proofs of birth and citizenship and luggage in hand and set out on our adventure. Our only concerns were that the jug of Captain Morgan and fifth of Absolut that looked a lot like Aquafina would get caught at the luggage check-in. I had done the math, lemíme see...., eight days at sea times twenty-four hours times $5 or $6 a drink. Woohoo, that could add up to more than the cruise tickets.  

No problem. The entire loading process went as smoothly as possible. We landed and went to our room. I am very glad we chose to upgrade to the balcony room. It was well worth it. Sitting on the deck chair with the sky above and the water below, It just doesnít get any better. The boat pulled away from the dock and we were free. Free from the land lines of cell phones, email, faxes, and every other demand that is a part of everyday life. 

The first evening at dinner, we realized we were in good company. Parrot heads are great. When we meet, it is as though we are already old friends. The first night we had a pub crawl. We got a chance to get familiar with the different bars and some of our new friends.

Our first port was San Juan. The word had gotten around that there was a new Margaritaville there. One of the group became chairman of the landing party and went ashore to arrange transportation. Felix was the bus driver. He would take us to this new establishment. We were dropped off with the understanding that we would be picked up at 9:00 pm. Our leader of the shore party gave Felix the money up front. We were dropped off. As it turned out, the new restaurant was actually Margaritaís (Jimmyís attorneys havenít found it yet) at the mall. Let me see, I have driven how many miles to go to a mall? Oh, well, I guess we can shop. You should see the prices in that city. I was impressed. We went across the street to Kmart. Real Aquafina was $3.95 a bottle. The Coca-Cola was only $3.00 a liter. We bought some of that to go with our Captain. We went back to the pick up spot at the designated time of 9:00pm. Oh, oh...Where is everyone? Where is Felix? 

It turned out that all but six of the group chased after the bus driver and had him take them to the Hard Rock Cafť. We met up with four friends that we had not seen since June of 2001 in Alpine Valley, Wisconsin. We grabbed a cab and headed back to the ship. We had just enough time to freshen up to get ready to go to the party in one of the pubs. Latitude was playing. They are awesome. Michelle can get a crowd fired up. They had maracas for us. The conga line was invigorating.

Tuesday we disembarked and checked out the island of St. Thomas. We first went up the tram to the highest point on the island. The shopping there is wonderful. They have not had a very prosperous season and were trying very hard to generate money. We helped them. When you see Eugene, ask him to show you his bracelet. Someone must have thought that he had been very good. Hmmm.

We returned shipboard in time to freshen up for dinner. I showered first and then went out poolside to catch the music. We had a live band that played poolside. They were awesome. They could do anything from Rock to Reggae to Buffett. They had quite a few Bob Marley tunes in their repertoire.

After Eugeneís shower he jumped into bed for a nap. A short time after that he was awakened by the sound of a bucket of quarters being placed on the counter. He opened his eyes and could see in the mirror, someone using our bathroom with the door left open. All he could make out was a pair of gray slacks. Now, he knows I donít own anything gray, so he was a little concerned. An older lady came out of the bathroom and her eyes got as big as saucers. Now, what do you say to a naked man? "Sir?" was her choice. "Yes?" he responded. "There were flowers on the door." she insisted. He couldnít argue with that. She finally said, "This isnít my room," and excused herself. When I got back to the room he shared his story with me. We then got dressed and went to the free Champagne (and whatever else you wanted to drink) party, put on by our host. Who should we meet at the party but Eugene's afternoon visitor, Mary, and her sister. They are new parrotheads. That's her under his arm in front of the flag in the picture.

Tuesday night was formal night. It was great to see all these crazy parrotheads in their formal attire. I had made parrot button covers for Eugene and we had matching cummerbund, bowtie and shawl. We looked pretty good if I do say so myself.

Wednesday our shore trip was St. Croix. I am pretty sure there is no bluer water in the world. After a leisurely stroll around town and a quick stop at the liquor store to sample some of the islandís flavored rum and buy a jolly Roger flag, it was back to the phun.

Time to get ready for toga night. This group of almost 200 didnít really need permission to get crazy. You should have seen the looks on the other passengers faces when the conga line began. Brent lead the pack with his twirling light which read, "Toga, Toga." Eugene followed closely behind carrying the Jolly Roger. The toga party was one of the highlights of the cruise. We met in one of the pubs and compared outfits. Some people spent a great deal of time on their outfits. 

After dinner, we went in to sing along at the piano bar. Joe, the piano player was a very good sport.

Thursday was a day at sea. The weather was perfect. There are so many things I havenít mentioned. A lot of the parrotheads decorated their cabin doors. The most awesome was turned into a lighted tiki bar with little speakers and continuous Buffett music quietly making noise. The last night we went to one of the many photographers on board and got a picture taken as a memento of the cruise. I think it captured the feeling. Before the cruise some were concerned with the fact that we had to dress for dinner. This picture shows appropriate dinner dress for a parrothead cruise!

 After dinner we rocked the night away with Latitude in Concert. Some things are expected on a cruise, fantastic food, great service, sun, water, live entertainment. We had it all.

One memorable part of the trip was the crew. On Friday, we went on a tour of the infrastructure of the ship. There are approximately 1,000 people catering to our every whim. There were dance lessons, bingo, casino, live entertainment. The musical specials were fantastic.

Saturday morning we came into port. While it was kind of sad to leave our newly found friends, it was good to be back on dry land.

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