So lately I've been in this funk where I get really jealous of people. People who are skinnier than me. Richer than me. More with it than me. I'll be reading someone's blog, or talking to someone, and back in the teeniest depth of my mind, I'll be like, "That is so unfair." Which is ludicrous, because my life is great. It really is. Then my adorable visiting teacher must have been really inspired, because last month, when we were supposed to choose a General Conference talk to teach on, she shared this one by my Main Man, Jeffrey R. Holland. And I got the mental shoulder shake that I needed. I'm doing much better now.
Sooooooooo, when I show you these pictures, don't be like me. Just do like Elder Holland said - be happy for me. Aight? Aight. Readyyyyyyyyy, OKAY!
So last year was our ten year wedding anniversary, and we really wanted to do something special, but we just couldn't afford it. So this year, our eleventh, Ben decided to just go for it. He booked us on a four-day cruise.
And lest you think we're super rich, don't. We're poor as church mice. But it was at a season for cruises where you can book really cheaply. It was only like $150 for each of us, for four whole days, and then we had all those sky miles from China that paid for our flights, so badda-bing, badda-boom. So a hint for ya if you're wanting to cruise cheaply - do it in January. The people who worked on the cruise line said that, in January, people are still reeling from having spent too much at Christmas and haven't yet gotten their tax refund back. So they make cruises really cheap in January to get more people coming.
We went to the Caribbean. We had two stops, one at an island owned by the Royal Caribbean cruise line, called Coco Cay. And then our second stop was at Nassau. I'll post about those later. This one will just be about the cruise boat itself.
So we had to drive to Salt Lake and fly out of that airport. I stocked up on magazines for the long flights we'd be on to and from the port in Florida. I was reading People Magazine, I believe, in the book review section (my favorite section of People). I was reading a review about some mystery book, and the reviewer called the main character a teetotaler. I was intrigued. What on earth is a teetotaler?? So Ben looked it up on his fancy schmancy iPhone, because I have a stupid Barbie phone. And we found out that a teetotaler is someone who doesn't drink. I decided that I wanted that word to become a permanent part of my vocabulary. And, like a nerd, I decided to use it in a sentence once a day for awhile. (Oh, and by the way, you pronounce teetotaler like this: tea-toddler. Like a toddler who likes to drink tea.)
Yeah, that resolution was VERY easy to keep. I had ample opportunity to use teetotaler in sentences that week. Because I'm pretty sure Ben and I were the only ones on the whole boat who weren't drunk 24-7. :)
It started the second people got on the boat and threw their stuff in their rooms. They hit those bars and got ca-razy drunk. Which was fascinating to me. I'm not often in situations where I see drunk people, so it was really entertaining. At one point, there were two dudes who looked to be in their late seventies/early eighties, dancing questionably with this gal in her early twenties, while the old dudes' wives looked on and laughed. It was really weird.
This was an hour or so after everyone boarded - it was a partayyyyyy:
Once, I went to the pool bar to get a cherry coke for me and a diet coke for Ben, and there was a lady standing next to me who overheard my order. "Well, that's a boring order!" she said.
I laughed and said, "Well, my hubby and I are teetotalers."
She punched me in the arm and said, incredulously, "You KNOW that word???"
I gasped. "Yes!! You know that word, too??"
We got a good laugh at that, and then she wobbled away with her Sex on the Beach drink.
The bartender and I got to be good friends - his name was Samsun. He always remembered me because I was the only one that ordered non-alcoholic margeritas. It was so fun. I would belly up to the bar (I've always wanted to use that phrase) and say, "Samsun, I'm in the mood for something mangoey or peachey. Non-alcoholic of course. Because I'm a teetotaler, as you know. Do you have anything mangoey or peachey?"
He always spoke in third person. "Let Samsun take care of you," he would say, in his cute Bahamian accent.
I noticed that the dudes that went around asking if you wanted drinks and serving them to you poolside always had the cutest smiles. I think the management did that on purpose. Cuter smiles, more drinks ordered. More drinks ordered, more money generated.
I quite literally gained five pounds in four days. They serve you four course meals every night, plus they make a buffet available 24 hours a day!! We seriously ate like 7 times a day. It was ridiculous. And so yummy. I had this salad one day that I really want to find a similar recipe to - with papaya and fresh green beans. It was soooooo good.
And at dinner, if you can't decide between two of the main courses or two of the desserts or whatever, they bring you both. Our waiter was adorable. And if I finished a course, he would be next to me in a millisecond, saying, "Do you want some more? We can bring you more of that." I did take him up on it once - when we had rice pudding for dessert. I'm a sucker for rice pudding. So I did get seconds of that.
I think they were in a fight that first night, because they wouldn't talk to each other. Or us. We only saw them one more time - the final night, and they were in much better spirits then. There was a part where everyone had to stand up and do the Macarena. I'm, like, the Macarena CHAMP, so I got up and shook my booty, and the lady kept saying, "Mmmmm-MMMM...Mama's got her groove on..." I loved that.
These guys were Laotian - they hardly said one word and were only there one night:
And then, not pictured, was a cute gay man who brought his grandma. How sweet is that? She had had a LOT of plastic surgery. But she and her grandson were really affable. We only saw them once, too. We were the only losers who showed up for dinner every single night. :)
In college, I actually considered trying out to be a dancer for a cruise ship. For reals. It was for the summer after my sophomore year. The summer after my freshman year, I had worked at Shopko, and it was, like, the worst job of my entire LIFE. I was NOT going to do that again. There were these flyers up for cruise liner dancers, and I was like, If I don't get in as an EFY counselor, I'm totally doing that. I am NEVER doing Shopko again. But then I got into EFY. And the rest is history.
The second show we saw was this guy from Mexico who plays, like, fifty instruments and does all of these rope trick things. He was also really, really, really funny.
We steered clear of the comedians. Their shows were always at, like, 11:30, and we old farts were too tired by then. And we figured the comedy might be a little...seedy. You never know with comedy shows. As Trevor Graydon says to Miss Dorothy Brown in Thoroughly Modern Millie, "We can catch a vaudeville show at the Hippodrome. Unless, that is, the comedians are on. Their kind of humor can be a little too crass for a lady's ear."
Sorry. I'm still obsessed with that movie. And with Julie Andrews. I'm reading her biography right now - fascinating.
A Weird Phenomenon
We kept seeing this weird red thing in the distance:
We could not figure it out, for the life of us. Was it an island with a weird red light on it? Was it another cruise liner on the distance, with a weird red light enveloping it?
Then we finally figured it out as it rose into the air. Duh. It was the moon! And it was blood-red. I've never seen anything like it.
Oh my goodness. So you leave in the morning, and your housekeeper dude changes your sheets, cleans your bathroom, etc. Then, if you're gone in the evening as well, he comes in AGAIN! He turns down your sheets, adds a decorative throw blanket, checks your bathroom again, puts out a schedule for the next day, and leaves you with a towel sculpture:
For reals. They would sculpt our towels every single night. It was really weird and super funny.
We are Lazy-Arses
So when we boarded the boat and got the schedule for the on-board gym, I was like, aw yeah. Look at all the time I'll have to work out! I'll get my jog in every single day!
Turns out, not so much. I packed workout clothes for every single day, and every single day, I did NOT work out. :)
We loved sitting by the pool and reading. I read a non-fiction book about the murder of Marilyn Sheppard in the 1960's. Told you - I'm a non-fiction junkie.
One of the elderly questionably dancing dudes got his hair braided at one of the islands. You know how you can do that? Get cornrows braided into your hair? This old guy with white hair got just one tuft of his hair braided, right at the tippy-top of his head. Hilarious.
This one family group brought cards and spent their down time playing card games. It made me wish my siblings and parents were there with us. I think a cruise is fun with just your spouse, but would also be a kick in the pants with a larger group of family or friends.
An Unfortunate Event
The second morning we were cruising, we were woken early by the captain speaking on the loudspeakers that go into each and every room of the whole ship. He informed us that a crew member had jumped overboard in the middle of the night, within view of another crew member. The other crew member immediately informed the captain, who turned the boat around and led a rescue effort for several hours. A few other cruise ships in the vicinity also stopped on their routes and came to help look for him.
The coast guard finally made it out to where we were in the middle of the ocean, and they were able to pick up the search and rescue effort, while we moved on. We waited to hear if he was ever found. The captain never re-announced that he was. We would ask crew members now and then, and they all would tell us that, nope, he hadn't been found. All we heard was that he was from India, and that his parents had been notified.
What a scary way to die - in the middle of a gigantic ocean, in the pitch black of night.
That Cruise Ship in the Mediterranean Had Nothing On Us
Ironically, we received news about that ship that hit some rocks in the Mediterranean and sank the day after our cruise ended. As Ben and I learned more about it, we were so shocked to hear about that ship never having done an emergency evacuation practice session. We did it before we even left land. We had to go to our assigned section and get counted, and we were told to go to our little section again if there was an emergency, etc. Everyone had to be there. And it took awhile. We grumbled a lot, but looking back, it's an important thing to practice.
We were stuffed in our section pretty tightly and got to know two cute couples. One was a cute little newleywed couple from Florida. They were super-friendly. And they were usually drunk. The wife wore really skimpy clothes. They were funny. And the other couple were a Chinese couple who live in the midwest of the U.S. I tried out some Mandarin on them, and they were impressed with me. :)
So the second night, they had this thing where you wear formal wear to dinner. Ben and I had gone shopping a few days before and just picked out a nice dress - it wasn't very fancy at all, and truth be told, it was wayyyyy too tight for my liking. I felt like a stuffed sausage:
So I felt really fancy, but dang. Ben and I were almost underdressed. There were tuxedos and full-on prom dresses. There were a few people like us, but mainly, everyone went all OUT. Which, in most of the younger ladies' instances, meant skimpy. Very, very skimpy stuff.
And you know, every night thereafter, lots of girls continued to wear prom dresses. It was funny. A chance to dress up, I guess.
It felt weird to me that people would get all gussied up just to eat dinner, but whatevs. As soon as dinner was over, I changed back into my loungewear. My shoes were killing me.
Loooooved it. Loved it, loved it, loved it. And how great that Ben and I were able to take this fantastic trip together before he left for China. Actually, at the time, we didn't know he was leaving so soon. We came home, found out he was going to China, and two days after that, he was gone. So this time we had together is very precious to me.
The cruise itself was too short for me. I could have comfortably done a seven-day cruise. Those ships are a little larger and have more shopping and more things to do. The shorter four-day cruises have smaller ships and not quite so much to do. I mean, if you gamble or drink, there was ALWAYS something going on. But if you're a teetotaler, you need to bring lots of books and card games.
So would I do it again? In a Bahamian Minute.