A Family Adventure on the high seas...
aka Clan Corto Takes A Cruise!
What follows is a day by day accounting of our vacation.
All the pictures are clickable to open a 640x480 version in a new window.
Let me know if you find broken links...
And let me know if you enjoy the visit to our holiday.
Thursday, March 10
Away. We have a grand adventure planned - again, thanks to the big-vacation-planner (aka Suzanne). This one is a trip on the newly launched Royal Caribbean "Oasis of the Seas". This is a big ship. This is a mightily big ship.
We're avoiding any possible chance of failing-to-make-our-gangway. So today is Thursday... 'n we don't leave until Saturday. Pretty sure we're going to make it. :) Today started ... on Wednesday, when Suz noticed - totally by chance - that she had failed to notice a change in our itinerary from Air Canada. If we had followed our plans, we'd have missed our flights by hours. As it is, my bro and I moved a stupid amount of luggage in two cars, and our four warm bodies to the Airport. A direct flight from home to Ft. Lauderdale... arriving at 3:00 in the day and the Hyatt Place by 4...
Now, if I'd had more than 3 hours of sleep the night before, I'd have been way better off. As it was, sleepy was me and the bed was comfy. We regained our eyeballs in time to consume vast amounts of food at an Outback Steak house Seriously, the Teriyaki Steak ... was beyond delicious, but I'm about to get on a giant floating 5 star restaurant, so I'm quite sure I'll be re-evaluating "delicious" as the days float by.
We sat on our beds and watched 2012... and found the back of our collective eyelids by 1:00.
Friday, March 12
Well, ok. We woke up to significant rain... which ended and all seemed gray and eh. So hotel "continental" breakfast was good... because we zoned in on the fresh fruit and yogurt. The little mini-muffins ... just do nothing for your appetite.
I needed little weird batteries (for my Jornada c.1998!!) and a hat - forgot my hat -, shoes for Ed and stuff for suz. So we went to the Galleria Mall. This was a 15$ cab ride away... sigh. All went well... until we left the mall to go across the street to the CVS, and Starbucks... You see, the sky decided to open up and POUR BUCKETS on us. We got soaked to the bone... I mean, soaking wet through and through, just crossing the street. lol.
The "mall" visit started with a trip to Vann’s to buy Geo new shoes and for me to gloat about my red Vann’s being totally unheard of by the staff (leather upper, and fake-sued sides) and ended with a trip to Vicki's Secret and there he was... the guy with my dream job. He just stands in front of vast displays and bins of women's under-things, attaching security tags.
Home to ... dry off, and chill. We had fast food for dinner... seeing as we're eating miles away from "fast" for the rest of the week... and btw, McDonalds is better in Canada. This I should remember from the endless times I've told myself this same thing. Seriously guys... when you come to Canada, and your a McD fan, have McDonalds, just once. :)
We're back at the Hyatt... watching TV (watched Pale Rider!! - again) and repacking our vast luggage. Apparently the little sockettes they let you use in the shoe store are not gross enough on their own… the kids decide to stretch them over their faces… (yes, I did it too). Tomorrow we dine on luxury. :)
Saturday, March 13
Today was an OMFG day.
I mean, yeah... we woke up in Ft.L, sweaty and sore from the squishy hotel bed and we ate more fruit and stuff for brecky, but everything after that was all about the pack-up-to-go. We ignored the hotel "to the dock" shuttle because a) the whole freaking hotel empties into these shuttles - crazy! b) we wanted to be early. We were. Our first images of the ship were from craning our necks out the hotel window... but the private shuttle bus ride ... just brought us closer and closer. You simply cannot believe how big this thing is!!! We were something like number 20 in the arrival line... which is to say, we experienced no line-ups. Nothing... just breezed through security, check-in, etc. Four thousand, nine hundred and eighty more people came after us... so yeah, we were early and we totally basked in the glory of zero line-ups. We were onboard by 11:15. You can't go to your stateroom until about 2:00, and you don't expect them to have your luggage to your room before 3:00. So we had time to kill. We spent it in short line-ups to get registered for this and that... we even got three of the eight hundred "royal connect" iphones (see: cool thing!).
The most amazing feature of this new ship design has got to be "central park". It's an "open to above" central area lined with shops and restaurants and filled with plants, trees and glorious benches (the most comfortable benches in the universe... btw).
Our rooms: we booked two side by side staterooms with adjoining balconies... The rooms are beautiful. Not big, but absolutely big enough. The boys are in their glory with their "own room". From 1:00 to bedtime, we had about four meals. One was the main dinner and it was - of course - excellent. I had two dinners... the prime rib and, because I was really curious about the vegi-curry... they brought me one of those too. The very best bit of food all day was the roast-beef sammich in a restaurant in Central Park. :)
Note: On the occasion of your first day... first meal... you meet your waiter and your waiters-assistant (aka: bus-boy). The "international'ness" of the whole cruise is always most evident in the wait'staff. Waiter-dude is from the Philippines and his name is Manwar... Bus-boy is from Turkey and his name is Ismail. I'm sketchy on the details and I'm sure I'll sort it out... however, we were in a rush to see an after-dinner-show and despite getting to the dining room first, our meals came last... so we resorted to name calling. Not to their faces, mind you, but... see... if you remember a really bad kid’s show called "Angela Anaconda" you might also remember that Angela's nemesis was a girl named "Nanette Manwar". So we call the waiter Nanette. For no good reason, we started calling bus-dude Robitussen.
We swam... we hot tubbed, we played games, and we went to the "aqua show". That was freaking amazing. Hard to explain, but I'll get pictures. Kind of a Cirque de Soleil in water. I had a drink. This is the first alcohol I've consumed since... the last cruise. Last time I had some fancy rum based fruity drink and ended up with a full day migraine. Last time I was sorta out of shape. This time... I had a single oz of 12 year old scotch over ice and I am telling myself that being great shape and having a fantastic diet is going to make a difference. We'll know by noon tomorrow. Oh, and I have rock'en awesome migraine medications this time too. :)
It's 2:00 AM, (and the clocks fly forward an hour tonight, so it's actually 3:00)and suz and I just came back from a late-night-before-bed hot tub in this beautiful "adults only" zone. They have these gorgeous "private canopy loungers" that seat two, swimming in pillows. We relaxed in one of those, bathed in night sea wind... except we were afraid we'd fall asleep... So now it's now, and we're back in our room... the balcony door is open, and we can hear the waves. It's bed time. Our plan is room service, bringing OJ and coffee at 6:45, and the gym by 7:00 for cardio and ... a full work-out. Today was long... and tomorrow will be longer still. You pay way too much money to be well rested on a cruise. We can sleep when we're dead. :) See you tomorrow.
Cool thing: These are iPhones (3gs) with a custom take-over app that tries to keep you from the rest of the iPhone and lets you stay in contact with any other iPhones on your contract. So you can locate other iPhones against a deck-by-deck, annotated map of the ship, text message or just phone each other and review a pdf of the daily event newsletters. I said "eight hundred"... they sell out wicked fast – 5000 people! We got one for zee and I to share and one for each of the boys. (the "locate" feature is the most key, the rest is fluff! The kids locate us and we locate them and we waste zero time trying to find each other!! – big ship, big problem. :)
Sunday, March 14
Okidoki... we put the "bring us food" note on the door at 2:20 AM... but the time changed and that became 3:20... and you have to have your note on the door before 3:00... (??? don't argue, it's just the way it went down). Needless to say, there was no early morning knock at the door at 6:45, let alone any phone call to tell us dude and food were on their way... Never-the-less, I woke up at 7:10... (gah)
We were in the gym by 7:30. There were a bunch of other people too, and most of them were women... just say'en. We had a great work out, and by 8:45 we were heading out of a packed-to-the-teeth gym. No question, last years cruise - Liberty of the Seas - had a way better gym.
We had a nice breakfast on the boardwalk... open air space and very nice. Suz and I attended a meet'n'greet with folks from an on-line board suz posts too... "Cruise Critic". This was fun and included a visit to the casino with about twenty people to play this collective slot machine game. Everybody kicks in 21$ and it's all played out on one machine. There was no jackpot but the payout was 24$ per person, so no-harm-no-foul.
There was endless sunshine today, so the pools and sundecks were the place to be. When you put five thousand people in bathing suits and turn them loose in relatively close proximity to one another... well, there's little to zero chance a people watcher like me is not going to enjoy the view. Edward and I played mini-putt, we all swam a lot, I went wave-surfing (google: Flow Rider) with Suz and we all ate a great deal of very good food!!! and this was all just par for the afternoon. :D
Tonight was the first of two formal nights. Suz was beyond gorgeous in a new black and white dress while the boys and I complimented her in black suits and colourful shirts. There are all these photo stations on formal nights with photogs and backdrops and ... small line ups of people dressed to kill. Now... you have to work with me on this: It's one thing to dress several thousand women (and there are more women than men on the ship) in bikinis and drench them in sun, but omg... it's another thing altogether to see them all dolled up in beautiful dresses with hair and heels to match!!!!
We had tickets to the ice-show (yes, "ice show") at 7:30, so dinner-at-six needed to march. Last night's dinner included a short, private conversation with Nanette about my being disappointed in things having gone so slowly. Well... tonight was a different story altogether. Nanette had us swarmed with helpers. Every time you looked up another server was bringing us something or asking us what he could bring. :D Caesar salad, shrimp cocktail, filet of beef (you could cut it with your fork!!!) and for dessert? I couldn't decide between the special cheese cake or the dark choco soufflé... so I had both. :)
The ice-show was spectacular, but Geo slept thru it... he has developed a heck of a cold (sore throat, etc.), so we're keeping him hopped up on Advil cold-caps to mask his symptoms - poor guy... he's very stoic... no complaining but you can see it...:D This lovely couple in front of us had two obviously adopted Asian children with them, old enough to walk and talk, but still, just so little. We were in the second row... so they were front-row kids. They got picked in the audience-participation moment... and, of course, they were in a miniature suit and little princess dress... mom and dad were over-the-moon at their children’s excitement and totally forgot to snap pictures... So, of courses, I snapped a few. :D I got her email address after the show and I loved watching mom's face light up when I showed her the pictures I will be emailing her when we get home. :D We did lots more walking around, some hot-tubbing and man... I was (we all were...) so tired that it was impossible to stay up later than 12:30. So the boys went to bed and I spent the next little while letting Suz know she was - is - the most beautiful girl in the universe. :)
Tomorrow we see the big show, "Hair Spray"... full Broadway production.
Monday, March 15
Well so much for setting our wake-up call... As usual, I wake up around 5 and find a clock to confirm that it is, indeed, around five, and then establish a perfect snuggle with my sleeping Zee. The wake-up thing (something you set on your ship-board "Cisco IP phone") was set for 6:30... and did it go off? No way. Nothing... I mean, if it did and it didn't wake me... that would be a total FIRST in my adult life. I wake up for alarms - in fact, if it's the same time on multiple days, I wake up seconds before the alarm, starting on the second day... And today, Suz and I cracked lids at 7:30. The gym would be packed by the time we arrived. So we put off gym until the lunch hour (another good candidate time for available space in the gym).
Geo was (is) still feeling bad... he wakes up feeling awful, but he's 100% by lunch. So we spent the morning swimming, sunning, and relaxing. Yes, we did go to the gym at lunch... a great work out was had (I'm taking cues from Zee and her awesome workouts on some new stuff to do...). The afternoon was spent taking pictures, eating great snacks, and ... lots more swimming, sunning, etc.
As I wonder about all the people that are on this ship... let alone that an entire new group (five thousand strong) shows up every single Saturday... Suz explains that a lot of the people that come on this kind of trip are doing that because they can earn points on a Royal Caribbean. Master Card... a shit load of companies offer these cruises as work-place performance incentives and another big shit load of people are here because they are in the military and there are special packages offered to them (and their families). Not everybody onboard... paid the full fair themselves. That being said, there are a vast number of very wealthy people on this ship.
Hairspray was amazing... an hour & a half long show on a cruise ship is long... but it was worth it. It was performed spectacularly by the cruise "players" with a couple of Broadway stars added on. :D
We went to the "Quest" show after Hairspray. This was a more "adult" themed thing that is basically a scavenger hunt. They fill this studio (think "game show") with adults and break the audience up into sections and give everyone a series of "quests"... for example: "Bring me ... a man, without a shirt, wearing a bra, carrying a handbag and wearing lipstick"... with the result that dozens of women instantly rip off their bras and begin tossing them... lol. It needs to be said that when the request was for "two men’s trousers, carried by a woman, without the man!".. I had my pants around my ankles before our team met it's quota... my pants then came back up. :D The "stupid-human-tricks" part was pretty fun too... from the middle aged lady that sang "Tequila" in a Howie-Mandel like baby voice to the just-fell-out-of-a-playboy awesome-blond-boob-job girl that could make her implants dance. No matter how goofy I'm making this sound... it was really great fun.
Geo had a great time with other kids his age last night... He's feeling totally better. There was a dance in the teen lounge and lots of time spent just being kids. Edward, although still refusing to integrate with the other kids, continues to be in his own special kind of heaven... heading out on his own to get pizza and explore or play late night games in the arcade with other kids or just play in his stateroom. Ed came to Hairspray with us, while Geo "did his thing". :D
Cool thing: This ship!!! See pictures!!! Geez! D’ya know… the original name for the ship was the Genesis. But after a contest that is (was) the subject of much debate, the name was changed… Hence the sculpture on the main promenade deck of two guys apparently painting over or cleaning off the name “Genesis". The aqua-theater is this the 17 ft deep pool that the water show was staged at… Note the climbing wall to the right… five stories! The “Central Park" area is a real-tree park in the middle of the ship. The large glass structures in the middle of it are the skylights on the promenade deck below…
Tuesday, March 16
St. Thomas, US Virgin Islands
Today was a perfect day.
Despite the dire weather reports that we scanned (over and over and over) prior to leaving on this adventure... today dawned with brilliant sunshine, and it never stopped. We ordered coffee and juice for "please bring it to our room" for 7:30 and, as it was a "port day" we were able to capitalize on a mostly empty gym. So after a great work out, we came back to the rooms and woke the boys up at 9:something, had showers, and a big breakfast in the buffet restaurant. We loaded up on sun block, grabbed knapsacks, and found our way to the "gang way" We have only pre-booked one "excursion" this trip (swimming with sting-rays and beachy’ness in the Bahamas - which is on Friday), so our adventure into St. Thomas was pretty much just a “get off the ship and souvenir shop at the pier" kinda thing, (bought another hat… but not this one) and then get the heck back on the ship. Oddly ‘nuf, there was a giant George on the dock.
We spent the day on the ship with a handful of other passengers. :) It was nice to have the pools to ourselves and wander around sampling food from all the different restaurants. Suz and I had an excellent lunch in the "solarium dining room" which is a so-called "healthy option" venue - so, big salads, etc.
I spent some time taking "pinky" around the ship and snapping pictures. "Pinky" is this inflatable flamingo that Suz got from her old co-works and we're doing a bit of a Travelocity-gnome-type-thing with pictures of it enjoying the cruise. This included spending some time in front of the Oasis-of-the-Seas webcam so my co-workers could catch a wave and hopefully screen-cap a copy of the picture. If there's a picture of that here... then you know that worked out just fine.
I went to the gym a second time to bring Edward and let him get a work out, while I did a lot of stretching. (Children must be accompanied by an adult in the gym.) My shoulder is just not doing great (still nursing a rotator cuff injury from last fall) so any time I can get in a gym to work it, stretch, etc. ... is time well spent. We wore our brightest colours - including gaudy, colourful leis to dinner (surf and turf with garlic shrimp and steak, chicken dumplings and banana cream pie... sigh... so much good food, it's just crazy). Our evening was centered on a vegas-style headliner show (Earl Turner) which turned out to be mightily lame indeed, but who cares. :D Suz and I finally went to the casino... (I love playing craps... love it, but, of course, it's deadly dangerous, unless you can control yourself). We brought in 60$, expecting to spend it all and ended up doubling our money after having close to two hours of outrageous fun. I know I was up to several hundred at one point, but I don't play to "earn"... I play to play and if we lost the 60... I'd have been fine with that. Our night ended with a 2:30 AM hot tub ... It was close to 3:30 before we turned ourselves off. sigh. Today was just ... perfect.
Cool thing: There's a "gangway" button on all the elevators, but depending on the port-of-call, the ship-exit can be on the second, third, fourth or fifth decks. So they set the "gangway" elevator button to just go the correct floor).
Wednesday, March 17
Happy St. Patties day. :D
Ok... so I'm not a big fan of the green day. I like Greenday well enough, but the international excuse for people to drink green beer and act rowdy... just wears on me. Never-the-less... this was one seriously green ship today. :)
Suz and I let the boys sleep in while we had breakfast on the Boardwalk (Johnny Rockets again - easily the best place on-board to have a classic breakfast, with fast service and eggs actually cooked the way you want them.).
Today was port-of-call St. Maarten. This is a strange and likely beautiful little island split down the middle between Denmark and France. I say "likely" because all we saw was the cruise-ship-port... and cruise ship ports make you think that the Caribbean is one big freaking jewelry shop. We didn't book any "excursions" here, so we had no opportunity to see anything except the edge-of-town. The edge-of-town was dirty, cramped and packed to the teeth with people trying to get you to either come in a buy cheep souvenirs, or very expensive jewelry. The fact that it was about six hundred degrees Celsius and so humid that Suz was sporting a 'fro... likely didn't help with the whole appeal-of-St.Maarten. :)
We got off the boat... went to town... imagined doing the beach for the afternoon and ended up saying screw it (five dollar chair, five dollar umbrella, six inches of beach - there were six massive cruise ships in port - and ... swimming in the ocean on a muggy super hot day is a sticky proposition - and I mean "sticky" via salt water). So... we were back on the boat two hours later and enjoyed the free deck chairs, free food, drinks and pools. Best part? Most of the passengers were off, sweating it out in St. Maarten. Suz and I did another session at the gym, and we totally made a day of being relaxed and surrounded by luxury. :) Dinner was lamb... I'm not normally a big fan, but I decided to try the "rack" and it was fab. We had a white chocolate fondue for dessert. Note: when I say "dinner was..." I mean, I chose the lamb. We get a new menu each night and there are six brand new amazing meals to pick from and a new assortment of appetizers too. There are stand-bys - like the Caesar salad or the angus steak, etc. - but generally speaking... there's a whole new game plan every night.
We gambled away our previous night's winnings (and then some) and we went to the "love & marriage show" for our evening’s entertainment. This was about three couples - one newly wed, one 10 year vet and one 45+ year couple - doing a guys versus girls thing. It is very entertaining. :D
The intense humidity and heat of today took a toll on a lot of folks... you could see tempers and impatience in many aspects of ship-board life. Thank goodness for air-conditioning. :)
We had another very late night... bed around 3:00 with a 7:00 AM wake up call... which comes in the form of a knock at the door and a steward bringing in coffee, juice and fruit - so there's no ignoring it. :D Best part is the steward not laughing at me, standing there in my ftl's with bed-linen-lines all over my body.
Cool thing: The ship's captain made some announcements about the intensity of the drills that the staff were going to be doing today and for us passengers to not-be-alarmed. When we were safely docked and peeps were heading off to their excursions... the ship was a total buzz with "bravo bravo bravo" drills (BBB is the most urgent of emergencies... and staff go into a kind of robotic freak out when it sounds). The big 370 person life boats along either side of the boat were deployed - packed with staff as guinea pigs - and we could see them cruising around beside the Oasis as we made our way to St. Maarten. The level of professionalism in the staff is quite impressive. With something like 2500 staff and a large part of that dedicated to security... this ship pretty much has its own private army.
Thursday, March 18
At Sea... again. (Seriously... best part of this trip is the boat itself, hands-down no-contest, so the more "days at sea" the better. :D)
We're motoring towards the Bahamas and should arrive tomorrow at noon'ish. Today we spent our time doing ship-stuff... we went boogie boarding on the flow-rider, climbed the massive rock wall, and went on the stand-up surfing flow-rider (there are two flow riders on this ship... wicked cool). Edward totally scaled the rock wall - kind of a wow moment there!! and, true to form, I scaled it quickly enough (with zero shoulder problems, btw) and then, at the top, ... I looked down. You can see down to the starting platform, but you can also see down to the boardwalk deck a story below that and then down into the amphitheater, another story down, and - just for kicks - you can also see off the back and sides of the ship, down to the water, ten more stories below the amphitheater. I enjoy my "fear of heights" because I'm a bit of a masochist. So, just say'en... I rang the bell at the top of the climb, looked down, and immediately broke out in a full body cold panic. Just... wicked. Wicked!! No worries, I did the proper repel-down thing and all is well. :D
Suz slammed into her boogie board when she wiped on the flow rider. Her board was perpendicular to the cushioned back-wall, and she hit it dead on the edge with her rib-cage. :( She hurts. No visible injury... but she hurts for a little while. Poor sugar!! :)
Suz and I had signed up for, and today went to... a cupcake decorating class. The ship has a dessert venue called the "cupcake cupboard" with expensive cup cakes. We, and six other folks, sat and made an adorable dog out of a plain vanilla cupcake. It was good fun... not terrifically new, but I feel inspired by the ideas of what they were teaching. :) Oh, and Ed sat in with us to watch and the instructor gave Ed her cupcake. Gold dust accenting and all.:)
Today was the second formal night, so we all played dress-up. !!
Tonight we're going to see "Come Fly With Me"... an aerial show delivered in the main theater. But that's not till 10:45.... so it's time to give Zee some advil and see if the big ol’strawberry daiquiri at dinner helped with the ouch.
(blink... it's tomorrow morning now)
Geo - as per usual - took off with friends and had himself a great night of "hanging out" and (surprise to me) singing karaoke with the other kids in the "On Air" club - nice bar, big stage and broadcasts throughout the ship.
Suz, Ed and I played games, went for walks... Ed played with perspective and the camera, and we fingered through the tables of jewelry on display (for sale) on the grand promenade of the ship (nice deals for semi precious stone jewelry... but in the end... no.) The big show tonight was short, but freak'en amazing. They have these Russian aerialists on the ship-show-crew who are outstanding...
Cool thing: There are 5000 passengers on this ship. there are dozens of pro-photogs wandering around snapping pictures... there are seemingly impromptu "insta-studios" for portrait photogs that pop up all over the place at night... especially on formal nights. For some pictures, they take your ship-card (ship board everything card) and swipe it... so the pictures are linked to you. No charge to snap pictures... have as many taken as you like... but you pay about 19$ for an 8x10 glossy print. Sometimes the pictures are very random, with no association to you. So there is this amazing gallery that: has touch screen kiosks for you to review all "id linked photos" (with the default check-out features), there are walls of photos to stand and review... AND there are these cool carousels with box-folios - hundreds and hundreds and hundreds... yet they are organized so well that we could just walk in, walk up and presto, we have our folio. In the folio box we can "put" pictures we've grabbed off the random walls, but we will also find actual prints of all the id-linked pictures as well. In the end, we selected three pics to have them re-print (finger print free) and they will have them packaged and waiting for us by this evening. :D
Friday, March 19
Today we make port in Nassau, Bahamas at 12:30 and depart at 6:30. We have our only actual pre-arranged shore excursion today... a secluded beach with a "swim with the sting rays" thing. That's from 2:00 to 6:00. Wee... There was another awesome parade through the promenade today…
We have been amazingly lucky with the weather... sunshine and beautiful every single day of the trip (not counting the downpour in Florida before we set sail). Today is once again, beautiful, although it's a bit chiller than the last few humid days. We'll see how that plays out. :)
So we almost elected to bail on the excursion (felt cold out and were worried that it'd suck to freeze), but - fortunately - decided better of it and off we went... lined up with the seething masses on the docks in Nassau to board a shuttle boat that took us to "Paradise Island" to play with stingrays and a beach... the stingray deal was marginal compared to the awesomeness of the stingray adventure in Grand Cayman last year, but cool never-the-less because this time it was in two feet of water, so we were surrounded by the rays at our feet (versus swimming in 5 - 6 feet of water). The beach was glorious and, overall, it was kind of short - just three hours of rays and beach and travel back-and-forth. There is really nothing good to say about any of the cruise ship ports of call - because they're so over-the-top packed with sell-you-crap people (and I mean crap!)... and I'm guessing they are (the ports) poor representatives of the actual locations... like St. Maarten must be a beautiful place... buuuuut you don't see any of that in the port-of-call. And Nassau... is just ick.
Check out the pictures… see the one of the full-frame white ship with a red-spoiler… this appears to be a huge ship that pulls into the dock right outside our balcony. (hence the picture). Now look at the next picture, taken from the ferry, looking back at the row of docked ships… That’s the Oasis on the far left and the little tiny boat beside us? That’s the white-with-red-spoiler ship beside us… !!
Our last evening was gorgeous... a chill in the air and an excited "get it all in while you can" mood through the ship. The kids (there were 1200 kids on this ship) were zooming all over the place. :) While Geo spent the night with the friends he'd made (and he made such great friends, he was really quite down about having to say goodbye), Suz and I played around with Edward and did some ship-board-shopping. Booze is apparently an outstanding deal... I bought two one-liter bottles of 12 year old Dewars for 50$ (the limit of our bring-back allowance). Suz bought a tote bag, etc. My sum-total purchase of souvenirs was to buy shot glasses for a friend at work... (and I got an "inaugural season Oasis-of-the-Seas" glass, which should be a big deal to a collector. :D) My real souvenirs are the pictures we've taken ... and this journal. We packed after dinner - our bags have to be in the hall before midnight - so we could just relax for the rest of the night... which, once again, went on until 3:00.
Oh, and Suz and I ended our night with yet another trip to the casino and, surprise surprise... we had a great run at the craps table and pretty much won back everything we'd lost and came out on top overall for the trip. :D I'm almost embarrassed to admit how much fun I have playing that... but make no mistake, I play to play, not to win.
We set our wake up call for 7:00 - we have late-check-out because we're not flying away on Saturday - which is about two hours later than most everybody else onboard, and shut our eyes on the ship for the last time.
Cruise Advice: The whole ship is licensed. There are many bars and many servers and booze is not cheap. As early in the cruise as you can… pick a bar and a server to be the one you always go back to. They will tend to minimize the charges and maximize the drinks for you. We picked a young woman from China (Lyling). We came back to her four times to order a “special coffee" for suz and a single 12 year old scotch over ice for me (Yes, I know… we are not big drinkers.) The thing is… my 4.95 single scotch was about 4ozs for all but the first one and suz’s coffee had three different types of booze in it and she only ever charged us for one of them after the first one. :)
Cool thing: If 5000 people ride the Oasis every week, at an average of 4000 per person (dude, there are a lot wicked expensive staterooms on this thing, so 4G is a reasonable average)... that's 20 mill per week... that's over a billion dollars in ticket sales per year.
Saturday, March 20
Ug... sofa king tired, I can't believe it.
We were up at 7:00 and done eating and carry-on-bag-packing by 8:30. We walked around for the last time and we were off by 9:30. With several ships disembarking at the same time, let alone the 5000 people coming off the Oasis... Port Everglades was a mad mad mad mad house. I'm typing this through sleep soaked eyes in the lobby of the hotel we will sleep in tonight... waiting for a room to become available. Ed is asleep on a chair in front of me, Suz is unconscious beside him and Geo is watching Fight Club (again) on his iPod.
We fly home tomorrow and ... I wish we were going home today (but there were no flights.. at least none that we could have booked or afforded to book). So, one more night away from home.
Cool thing: Check out the “deck plan" sign below. That is decidedly low-tech by comparison to the rest of the ship. Every where you look (well, at main intersections, etc.) there are these 42 in. touch-screen tvs. One of the pics is of a touch-screen showing how busy different restaurants are, and the other is the main menu… I like the “how to get there from here" display after you locate something on the ship. :)