Day one: Galveston
We left San Antonio early at 6:30am. It was still dark. I has been a long time since I’ve seen 6:30 in the morning. The drive to Houston was quite quick compared to the last time I made this trip. I think Houston may have gotten closer to San Antonio. Maybe the world really is shrinking. After a quick stop for a snack in Houston we continued toward Galveston to the port. The traffic was pretty dense near the ship with all the people looking for a place to park and trying to figure out what they were supposed to do. The line waiting to board was quite long and snaked back and forth forever but the procedure was fairly efficient. It didn’t really take all that long to go through it.
Once we got on the ship and found our room the rest was easier. My little group was easily confused about directions not realizing which way was fore and aft. I didn’t have too much trouble keeping my bearings. It took a while for our luggage to make it’s way to our room. Soon the ship was underway.
While my roommates tried out the casino I took a private leisurely tour of the ship to see what was what. Considering the size of the ship, it really isn’t very big. The majority of the decks are taken up with tiny staterooms leaving the center area for the common areas that include overpriced shops full of completely unnecessary doodads, jewelry, perfume and liquor. None of that interests me. Avoided.
The ship’s interior overall is brightly colored, flashy and chromey. It kind of reminds me of one of those hall of mirrors. You can’t really tell what you are looking at because of all the reflections and changing colors. Not exactly a classy ride but probably breathtaking for the common people. I would have preferred something nice like the fancy woodworking on the Titanic or the Queen Mary. Times have changed. Get used to it. Seems I heard that they were making a replica of the Titanic. Wouldn’t that be sweet as long as it stays on top of the water.
Around 7:30 was Cruise Director Skip’s introductory show in the auditorium. There was dancing, flashing lights and smoke. Meh. They chose eight random people from the audience to come up on the stage to make fun of. I thought it was interesting to note that out of the eight people, all of them were there with a spouse or significant other. I figure a random selection of eight people from the audience represents the ship’s population pretty well. That means that 100% of the people on this ship, besides me, are attached. The chances of meeting a single white girl here is minimum. I guess I won’t spend much time on that. I hadn’t planned to anyway. Gave up on that decades ago.
Right after the show was our assigned dinner time. The food was fairly good but to really special. After a Caesar salad, chicken breast with veggies, baked potato and a desert of some kind of cake with ice cream I was plenty full.
We went back to the room where my roommates fell asleep. They had planned to go back to the casino later so I went out on the deck near the rear of the ship and sat in a padded chair and enjoyed the fresh air, wind and the night sky. I was hoping to be able to see a lot of stars but the ship’s lighting and the moon prevented seeing much but the brightest stars. It was a nice relaxing place to chill while watching the oil platforms drift by and the occasional tanker and cruise ship going the other way.
It it wasn’t for the platforms and ships you would not even know where the horizon was. Dark on top, dark on the bottom. It must be weird to be driving a big ship into the nothingness. Good thing they have instruments to sail by.
After an hour or something I came back to the room where my roommates were still sleeping. I took a shower, brushed my teeth and went to bed. I was smart to bring my earplugs because my roommates do not sleep quietly. I slept quite well.
Day 2: At Sea
I woke up around 8:00. They were still asleep. I got up, shaved and went up one deck to the breakfast buffet. Not bad. Not special. I sat and watched the ocean go by. It was a cloudy morning and we had moved further out in to the gulf overnight so all the oil rigs had vanished. There was nothing to see except ocean.
It’s amazing to think about how much water surrounds us out here yet places like Texas and California are in such a drought. We seriously need to get some major desalinization going. Water, water everywhere and not a drop to drink.
I came back to my room around 10:00. The roommates were finally awake and scurrying about getting dressed. It was another day at sea so we were free do do whatever we wanted aboard the ship. They went to the casino to play in a Texas Holdem tournament.
They did quite well too. One came in at second place. I am not into gambling and the cigarette smoke in the casino area made it difficult to breathe. I’m surprised they allow it in today’s world.
Instead, I went to the rear of the ship and sat in a deck chair to relax and read a book. The sky was pretty heavily overcast so the risk of sunburn was greatly diminished. The air was warm and fresh. I read half the book in one sitting. I’ve never done that before. It usually takes me months to get through a book.
As I watched the people mill about I noticed that none of them looked like anyone I would want to talk to. None of them noticed me either so it’s just like being home. There are 2400 people aboard this ship but I am the only one here.
I appreciated the fact that my mind was in a wonderful vacation fog. No thoughts about daily life. No thoughts about my future. Briefly my thoughts brought up something at home but it immediately felt foreign and weird. Obviously getting away really does work.
After a few hours I returned to my room to see what was up. We looked through the available shore excursions to make plans for the upcoming stop in Key West. I had signed up earlier for a Catamaran snorkeling trip at our third stop. I didn’t know what or even if they were going to go on any of the excursions. After they read the options they seem to be decided on a segway tour. Meh. I guess I might go along. They are totally not interested in any of the fun stuff like snorkeling, diving or even spending time on a beautiful beach. What kind of crap is that? I guess I am on my own to have a good time for the most part. In Texas, our beaches are brown and the water is brown. I would think the opportunity to swim in a clear blue ocean with nice white sand beaches would be a YOLO level event for sure. I never cease to be amazed to see what other people think is fun or not fun. I don’t think they even brought bathing suits. Mind blown: Boooooommm!
It was soon dinner time. Tonight is fancy dress night at the main restaurant. I don’t do fancy dress so I bid them bon-voyage and went to the anytime buffet just a flight above our room. I had prime rib, spaghetti carbonara, a nice salad and a great key lime cake. I don’t miss fancy dining in the least. Meh. I’m not getting dressed up on a cruise! I’m on vacation. Shorts and flip flops yes. I intentionally did NOT bring a suit.
A nice thing about this cruise is that you can grab something to eat anytime for free. You have to buy soft drinks but tea, coffee, lemonade, water are all free. (Well, you paid for it in the price of the cruise but you don’t have to pay additionally.) There are also some fancier restaurants where you can buy a nice overprice meal if you like. There’s plenty of alcohol if you are an alcoholic and want to waste money on that. I’ll never understand that. Boooom!
After dinner we went to the show at the auditorium. It was a 70s music review. OK.
I’m having a little internet withdrawal problem. They have WiFi here but it is super expensive and extremely slow. Not worth the trouble. It is strange not being linked with my external brain. I guess you get used to it over time.
Day 3: Key West
We arrived in Key West about 9:00 am. We got up early to go see if we could schedule a shore excursion. There were a few openings left in the Kayaking Nature Tour that we wanted to take. There was a long line waiting to get off the ship but right on the dock we found our guide waiting with a sign. After a short wait we boarded a van for a ride across the island. The driver gave us the nickle tour as we passed by local landmarks.
The kayack tour was fun. It was rather hot and humid but not much different than San Antonio so I was pretty much used to it. Our guides stopped us at certain areas where they found things like jellyfish, starfish, sea cucumber, sponges, anemones and stuff. It was nice to be on water that I could see through. The brown water in Texas is so lame.
After the tour we came back to town in the van. We walked over to the Conch Republic Seafood restaurant. The food was expensive but pretty good. With food, there comes a point where it doesn’t really get better to the degree of overpricedness. I guess $27 for a stuffed shrimp plate isn’t totally outrageous but I think it would be more realistically priced at $17.00. Well, what do you expect in a tourist town.
Across the street was a key lime pie place where we got a key lime pie on a stick dipped in chocolate. Interesting. $5.00
There were still many hours to kill before the ship left so we walked down the street looking at tourist shops full of beads and baubles. Not interesting. Pass.
Back aboard the ship. So tired and grungy. First thing: take a shower. I headed up to the deck to get a signal to call my mom to let her know things were going well. The ship was just starting to back out of the dock. Dolphins played in the prop wash. I came back to the room where the roommates were lying in bed. They missed the departure and didn’t care. Boooommm!
We went to the dining room and sat next to a very talky lady. It was her daughter’s birthday. We sang Happy Birthday and ate cake and talked forever. She was also from San Antonio. It seems most of the people on this cruise are from Texas. I guess that would make since because the cruise leaves from Galveston.
Day 4: Freeport, Bahamas
I got up at 7:15-ish, got dressed and went up alone for a quick breakfast at the buffet. I stood on my favorite aft deck and watched the ship dock in Freeport. I thought driving my RV was cumbersome. It must be quite a task to turn the ship around inside the port then sidle up to the dock. They did an amazing job. If you were in bed like my roommates, you would never have known we arrived.
I changed to my bathing suit and packed my supplies for a Bicycle Tour of the island. We got in a van and drove a few miles to a place where we met our guide and picked up our bikes. They were old and run down but the island is pretty much all flat so a lot of breaking and shifting was not necessary. It was a 12.5 mile ride and we stopped every mile or so to rest under a tree and learn some history from our guide. He was very knowledgeable having lived in the Bahamas all his life. Near the end I was about to die. The temperature was in the 80s and the humidity was super high. Much like San Antonio. I don’t ride bikes in the summer in San Antonio. Nobody in their right mind does. Still, it was a tour so I braved it. Fortunately, as I lagged behind, we reached our final stop. There were four of us. An older couple, myself and a girl perhaps close to my age and single.
It was a nature preserve kind of thing with shops and a place to eat. A simple meal was included in our deal and I had a Tuna sandwich and Cheetos. As we ate, a group of ducks begged at the tables and were always rewarded. One poor duck had a misshapen bill and got my sorrow. He had a hard time eating and often got his meal stolen by one of the other ducks. Still, I was able to get him a few bites.
Our group walked around the shaded walkway enjoying the plants and animals. The shops were pretty much like any other shop on any other island. Full of knick-knacks that I had no interest in. I feel bad about not buying anything from these shopkeepers but I really don’t want any of that. Seriously!
We got into our van and were dropped off at a beach with a bar. There were a lot of other groups there. The segway people and the jeep people were all there. I would much have preferred maybe a scooter tour. Manual bicycling labor was rough even on flat roads.
The beach was nice. White sand and blue clean water! We were there for about an hour to enjoy the beach. At least I got a beach fix on this trip. Our van was having engine trouble. It would start but wouldn’t stay running if the driver released the accelerator. It was an old van so it was probably a carburetor clog. He got us back by restarting every time it stopped, gunning the engine and shifting to drive. I hope he made it to the mechanic.
When I finally got back to the ship I was desperate for a shower and clean clothes. The girl and I walked up the gangway to our ship and used our cards to get in. She was suddenly gone without saying goodbye. I was like. OK…….
Day 5: Nassau, Bahamas
We got up a little later. My scheduled catamaran and snorkeling trip didn’t leave until 10:30 so we had breakfast together in the dining room. We barely squeaked in. For some reason it closes at 9:00. I had some pancakes, bacon and fruit. Good enough.
After lunch I got ready and headed out by myself to the waiting area for the excursion. After 10:30 we all walked over to the catamaran which was docked right near the ship. It was a rather large boat which was a good thing because it was a large group. I would guess at least 40 people. The boat headed out for a 45 minute ride to the reef. I wasn’t really very far. You could see the top of our ship in the distance but we were heading into the wind so it took much longer. If you don’t like to get wet, don’t sit in the front on the mesh. It is a splash zone for sure.
Once we got out into the ocean it was rather choppy. It was a bumpy ride but nobody got seasick and blew chunks or anything. We were only a few hundred yards away from land anyway. I usually have no problem with near-shore boat rides. It’s when you’re out in the deep ocean bobbing up and down with no sight of land where things get uncomfortable.
We arrived at our reef. Another boat was there already. We had 60 minutes to snorkel the reef which went pretty quickly but was long enough. The reef was very nice. There were lots of different corals. Brain coral, Finger coral, Fan Coral. I even saw Christmas Tree anemones. There were plenty of tropical colored fish too. Large and small. I had a great time.
Most of the other passengers were noobs. There were a few seasoned snorkelers who, like me, brought their own gear. The noobs bobbled around in the water making it a little difficult to get around. I was able to dive down to get closer looks at the reef. I wished I had a waterproof camera to take some nice photos.
After everyone boarded we raised anchor and headed back. They offered complimentary rum or punch. It didn’t take long to come back as we were headed with the wind. They even opened the front sail. Cool. It was a nice trip. Totally worth $56.00.
After we docked we all got off. I gave them a $10.00 tip and headed back toward the ship. It was about 2:00 and I really wanted to partake of some local cuisine but I didn’t see anything except bars and doodad shops. I was salty, sticky and wanted a shower so I went back to the ship. We depart at 4:30 today so I didn’t feel there was time to leave the ship again and go searching for a nearby restaurant. I kind of wish we had two days in each port. I guess it’s not really necessary. So far what I’ve seen of island food is not really anything especially different from regular food. Maybe it is just because I’m in the tourist areas. If I had more time I would like to have eaten at a local authentic place off the beaten path. Maybe in my next lifetime. At least on my bicycle trip in Freeport we ate a few fruits right off the trees. That was cool.
I got back to my room, took a shower and went up to a little buffet called Tandoor. Indian food. I had been wanting to try it but they close after lunch for the day and I kept missing it. It was pretty good. Not special. I don’t know what it would take to impress me foodwise anymore. At least it was different. So far nothing I have eaten on this trip impressed me. Maybe I don’t know how to be impressed anymore.
I really didn’t see anything in Nassau. My roommates went to see the Atlantis Resort which is supposed to be fancy but I just went snorkeling. I probably missed a lot not seeing more of the island but as usual, you mostly just see the tourist traps. You can see that anywhere. Snorkeling on a reef is not something you can do in your backyard unless you are really lucky.
Not having anything else to do, I grabbed my book and glasses and locked myself out of the room. Ooops. Left my key card. Oh Well. Nothing to do here. I went on up to my favorite deck and read for a couple of hours. I love being outside. I love feeling the wind. These are two things I can seldom do at home. I read and watched the fat people swim until my roommates got back from their island tour. We had a snack and went back to the room. I watched some news on TV while they slept. They sure sleep a lot, huh?
We eventually went to the dining room. Another meal. I’m so stuffed. I’ll bet I will have gained 10 lbs by the end of this. Passed out in bed.
Day 6: At Sea
Having nothing important to do, we got up late and had brunch. We often share a table with other people during breakfast and brunch. I sat next to a beautiful Ukrainian girl who was on the cruise with her mother. She was way out of my league. I couldn’t help dreaming having her as my girlfriend or wife. Yeah. Right.
We came back to the room where they slept more. I went out on the deck to read. It was sunny and hot with less breeze than you would expect on a ship going 37Km/hr. (Whatever that is in real measurements.) By the time I came back down they had gone off to a digital scavenger hunt. I was going to go but forgot what time it was to start. Whatever. No big loss.
We then wandered about a bit and did some stuff I can’t recall because I didn’t write it down right away. Eventually it was time for dinner so we hit the buffet at 6:00. They were going to the elegant dining experience tonight but I wasn’t so I had a large meal and they just had a light one.
Our next appointment was a show in the theater called “Win!” It was pretty good. Kind of a mishmash of game-shows and stuff. It was sufficiently entertaining. Afterwards we went back to the room so they could engage their elegance for dinner. I just took a shower, watched a movie on my laptop and waited for them to return.
We then went to another show then came back to sleep. I was tired from not doing anything. I wonder how that works? There was an outdoor movie in the central pool area on a large, bright, LED screen. Super compressed video. We watched “The Faults in our Stars.” about a girl and her friends with cancer. Good.
Day 7: At Sea
Got up around 9:00 and lounged in the room watching a Bourne movie that runs infinitely. Lunch was at the Cuchina del Capitan or Captain’s Kitchen I belive. What am I? Italian? They have a free pasta lunch that was not bad. Select your pasta, your sauce and extras. Not really a big meal but that was OK because they had a Chocolate Extravaganza with lots of chocolate deserts. Nice.
We stopped at the shopping area where I bought a souvenir t-shirt for $16.95. You could get two for $20 but I didn’t want two. It was hard enough finding one that I would want. They of course gave me a hard time about it.
We went to the top deck where they have a obstacle course up on poles. It was scary fun. I bought a coke for $2.80. Good thing I don’t drink a lot of soda or alcohol. I’ll bet many of the ship’s majority of alcoholics spent more buying drinks than they did on the cruise itself.
We went to the auditorium to play bingo. It was fun. $25 for three cards. We got close but no wins. Bummer.
We stopped back at the room to pre-pack our luggage for departure tomorrow. I pretty much lived out of my suitcase so packing was simple.
Dinner at the Dining Room at 7:00. A movie at the pool theater. Maleficent.
Day 8: Galveston
We woke up back in Galveston. We had left our luggage outside our doors the night before to be picked up in the terminal. Good thing because a million people lugging 3 million bags downstairs would really have sucked. They had an orderly procedure for leaving the ship that took a long time but was relatively painless. We were almost last of course.
My roommates are Vietnamese and wanted to stop in Chinatown in Houston so we had a Vietnamese sandwich (Very good) and some phở. (Extremely good. I’ve had it a number of times before. It’s a big bowl of tasty soup.) We picked up some Asian groceries and headed home. The drive seemed to take forever but eventual we got back.
Hallelujah. A cruise is a nice thing but being back home is nicer. I enjoyed it overall but don’t think I would do it again for a while unless I can find more exciting roommates or go alone to a more exciting place. Still. I recommend going on a cruise at least once in your life. It’s a different experience.