Wednesday, April 16, 2008

Cruise News, Part 1

It's good to know that so many of my readers can relate to my vision problems! Wow, did I get a lot of sympathy on my last post! I did end up going back to the eye doctor before I left, and she put me in stronger contacts. Apparently, I am "in-between" lens strengths, and the weaker one isn't enough. Don't ask me why it wasn't enough when I left the first time, because I can't figure it out, either. I guess my eyes just don't fully adjust as quickly as they should. I can see pretty well with the new ones, so I'm going to just go with these.

I think the thing is, since I don't know what it's like to really be able to see perfectly, it is hard to gauge what is "perfect vision". I feel like I should be able to see China when I put my contacts in, so anything less seems too weak to me. But I did a check with CN on the way to Jacksonville. For the first hour of our trip, he had to listen to me asking: "Can you read that green sign yet? Or is it still fuzzy? What about that license plate in front of us? Can you read that?" -- I wanted to know if I was seeing what he was seeing. Since he has 20/20 vision, I figured that is a good test. We were seeing the same things at the same time, so I must be good.

I know you will be disappointed to hear this, but I don't have any cruise pictures yet. I will post some as soon as I can. We took a lot of them on CN's camera, so he has to learn how to upload them before I can share with you. For now, I will give you the first part of the trip.

CN and I had so much fun driving to/from Jacksonville together. We talked and laughed and teased each other. He has a Sirius radio, and I played dj on the trip, which was great for me, but not always great for him--he hates rap. He liked all my serenading, though. I had fun making him guess what song was playing. He knows an incredible amount of music trivia. So we had a blast on our way to meet up with everyone.

CN and I went on the cruise with two other couples: Larva & Sandra and Roger & Grace (yes, these names are totally made-up or nicknames). We had met Larva & Sandra before, as Larva and CN are old college buddies. We were meeting Roger & Grace for the first time.

CN and I met up with the two other couples about halfway between Columbia and Jacksonville, at a Burger King off the highway. The first thing they say to us is this: "Ok, before we head down to Jacksonville, we have to make a pit-stop in Savannah."

CN & I: "Um, ok. Why?"

Sandra: "Well, because Larva didn't get his birth certificate stamped with the official seal, so if we don't get it, they won't let him on the boat."

[Insert VB & CN irritation here.]

It turns out that Larva, who has had WEEKS to get his paperwork in order, thought that he could bullshit his way through security with just a photocopied birth certificate. He had even gone with Sandra to the health department just 2 days beforehand, when she went to get hers. "You're sure you don't need one?" she had asked. He told her "no".

When he announces this little tidbit of information that morning to Roger & Grace on the way to meet us, they told him he was an idiot and that his little plan would not work. CN and I agreed.

I still can't figure out why Sandra was not furious with Larva about this. "If you had pulled this stunt," I said to CN, "You would be dead meat right now. I would get on the boat without your ass."

"Trust me, I would never do something that stupid," he replied. "I practically gave myself a heart attack double checking all that stuff!"

So our plan was to take a detour to Savannah to hunt down a health department, pray they were open and cross our fingers that it would not take too long to get a proper birth certificate. Thank goodness Larva was born in Georgia, rather than somewhere far away, like Utah. After some exasperated sighs on my part, we all get into our cars and drive into Savannah.

CN and I begin to follow everyone through Savannah. We seemed to be going nowhere. When our motorcade did yet another u-turn, CN calls Larva to ask him what the hell is going on. It turns out that no one has a CLUE as to where the Health Department is in Savannah, and they were trying to find it through sheer luck.

More exasperated sighs on my behalf. This is not a good way to start a vacation.

Luckily, CN saved the day and found the Health Department with his GPS system. (Thank you, Garmin company.) A few minutes later, we were at the Health Department and were glad to see that there was no line or waiting period needed to get a proper birth certificate.

Fifteen minutes later, we are on our way to get on the boat. We are about 2 hours behind schedule, but it's no big deal. We still got on the boat in a short amount of time. Getting on the boat was very easy.

While we had been waiting on Larva at the Health Department, I told Sandra how I was worried about getting seasick. She told me to take a half a Dramamine the first day, and I should be fine for the rest of the trip. She's a nurse and an experienced cruiser, so that's what I did. Aside from the first night, when I was feeling a tiny bit woozy, I was totally fine for the rest of the trip. I was very relieved, because that was a big worry on my part.

CN and I got to our cabin. The bed was AMAZING -- seriously, y'all, it is a miracle I ever got out of that bed. It was big, soft and clean, and the thread count on the sheets must have been 500. The pillows were the perfect mix of squishy/firm. Our steward changed the sheets every day...ahhh. It was bliss.

Too bad I can't say the same thing for the bathroom. Now, I was on an old ship (built in 1987), so I knew not to get too excited about the bathroom. But the shower was totally gross: it was tiny, moldy, dark and felt "germy". It didn't have the most effective drain, either. I think it was the rubber mat on the floor of the shower that really bothered me. All I could think was, "Ew, athlete's foot!!!" So I took very quick showers. And I know I'm probably being a little harsh/germo-phobic, but I have a thing about bathrooms. I am picky.

We unpacked and freshened up and went up to the pool deck to meet everyone else for lunch.

All of my hopes about the kick-ass cruise food were quickly destroyed. The cafeteria on the pool deck smelled like a mixture of fried food, mold and body odor. It was so bad that I had to cover my nose every time I went in there. It literally made me nauseous. I grabbed a burger, some fries, some pasta salad and a couple other things. I did not eat a lot of food from this cafeteria again, instead opting for the dining rooms, which at least didn't make me want to barf. That smell was seriously unbearable.

This first meal was no different from all the other meals on this trip: average to bad. Half the food on the boat was totally disgusting, to the point that it was inedible. (Example: the caesar salad tasted like fish. Now, I know that caesar dressing has anchovy paste in it. But this tasted like it was 100% anchovy paste. Ew.). A lot of dishes were overcooked or flavorless. The rest was ok. I didn't eat any veggies the whole time I was on board, because everything from the salads to the steamed veggies were just awful. A lot of the seafood was overcooked and rubbery. The fruit was not ripe. The pizza was soggy and tasted funny. The escargot was cold. The mashed potatoes were stiff as a board. The desserts were average at best. The cakes, cookies and brownies were all dry and bland. The sandwiches, eggs and pancakes were so-so. The French toast was not very good. The cheesecake was gross. The only things that waere pretty good were the beef and the pancakes. So I ate beef almost every night for dinner, and pancakes for breakfast.

How do you mess up cheesecake and pizza???!! This completely blew my mind. CN agreed with me about all the food. Everyone else thought I was nuts as they chowed down. Maybe I am nuts. *shrugs*

I can't tell you about the chocolate buffet, because it was held at midnight that night, and I missed it. But I doubt I missed much, based on the forgettable desserts I had the rest of the time. By midnight most nights, I was enjoying the heavenly bed in my cabin. I'm not much of a night owl.

The only thing that really impressed me was the coffee -- it was perfect. Oh, and there was this chocolate lava cake that was really good, too. But that was it as far as food excitement was concerned.

Overall, the food was average/bad at best. I can cook better food myself. The food I get in restaurants here in Columbia beats anything they had on their ship hands down. So if you are going on a cruise, don't get excited about the food if you are used to yummy Southern cuisine.

The good news is, I only gained two pounds--and I think that was more from not exercising than anything else! :)

After we ate lunch, the ship left the dock. We all agreed that you can feel a lot of motion in such a small cruise ship. CN and I went to the front of the boat to watch the huge bridge go over us. It was pretty cool.

We hung out by the pool with the rest of our group after that. Everyone proceeded to start drinking heavily! We had a good time just people-watching, hanging out and dancing to the music played by a dj. I really liked Roger & Grace right away. They are super fun and friendly, plus, they are hilarious. After a bit, we went to our cabins to change into dinner attire.

Dinner was apparently forgettable, since I don't remember anything I ate. :P

After dinner, CN and I were pooped. We had been up since 6am, so we were exhausted. I think we went to bed by 9:30. I slept like a rock!

Ok, I will write more tomorrow!


Caz said...

Sounds like you got off to a rocky start and that's too bad about the food! I guess maybe because on a boat that old they don't have the greatest kitchen equipment and need to cook for a whole heck of people all around the same time. Not like a reataurant that has seperate meals for each diner, stagered across the evening. I also am pretty picky about good food and/or cooking though so it's something I'd pick up on when not necessarily everyone else would care.

Someone like Larava would totally piss me off too. I have no patience for stuff like that!

Megan said...

Can't wait for pictures!!!

Becky said...

omg i cant wait to hear the rest!

RWA said...

OK, so the food was nothing good.

Did CN like his bed too?

Or, wait ... was there only one...

Uhh ... never mind.

Virginia Belle said...

caz-- yeah, i have no idea why the food wasn't so great. it really was a big let down.

megan -- um, you might have to wait. i don't think i will get any before this weekend.

becky -- yeah, your envy will wane quickly, i'm sure...

rwa-- yeah, there was only one bed. one BIG bed! CN was glad, because my cold feet were nowhere near him. :)

Dixie said...

Jeez, what cruise ship was that?? I want to make sure I avoid it!!

I went on a Royal Caribbean one last year and the food was delish!!

Phantom Hater said...

Wow, Larva sounds like a fucking idiot. I mean, really, that's just a pathetic display of planning. I don't mind if people want to procrastinate on their own stuff, but with other people involved, that's just plain douchebaggish. And fucking Mapquest or Google map the place before you leave home for God's sake. Wow. Just wow.

I have a feeling you might be over-reacting on the food. Are you the type who complains about the food everywhere you go because "you can make it better"? Remind me never to dine out with VB. :)