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.
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
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
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
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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