Tuesday, March 23, 2010

The time i cruised with my dad. Part IV

Morning comes. My dad's yelling at me, calling me a Land Ho. Er, maybe it was just “LAND HO!” I flew out of bed as soon as I saw the island of Barbados outside the balcony. Finally, we get to swim in the Caribbean.

We make it to the gangway, we find our tour bus that was headed to Malibu beach. This was a three and a half hour excursion at the Malibu Rum beach resort where we were able to use the beach chairs, umbrellas, have a complementary cocktail and an optional guided tour of the rum distillery. We arrived to the beach at 9am. The next tour for the rum distillery was at 9:45am. We found our beach chairs. A friendly local hammered in our umbrella and we decided we would just lounge in the shade until the tour. Everyone else on the excursion was in the water. Everyone. I looked over at dad. "You wanna blow off the tour?" "Yes."

I changed into my swimwear. Dad went and put on his thirty year old swimming trunks. As I was waiting for him, the locals began to ask me all kinds of questions.

“Do you want to rent a wave runner?”

“Do you want to take a snorkeling tour to see the turtles?”

“Are you my girl? My girl has tattoos just like that.”

“Do you want to try some aloe?”

“Do you want to buy some palm weaved baskets?”

“Do you want to buy my birds made out of coconut shells?”

“Why aren't you wearing a two piece?”

The Sea Turtle Hosts.

When dad returned, he disclosed that he also was asked a question. “Is that your daughter? You did a fine job raising her.” To my dad.

Dad and I left our beach chairs and swam. I think we were in the water for two and a half hours straight. I was salty, pruney and elated. This is what I had come for. It was nearing the time for our bus to return so I laid back on my beach chair to air dry. As I was getting ready to sit down, I grabbed my phone. One of the locals called out, “He hasn't called you yet!” I didn't flinch. I pretended I didn't hear him and sat down. “Hey you! Girl With the Tattoos!” ...Christ. I continued to shoot of my text message. Finally, he resorted to coming over to my chair to ask more intrusive questions. “Where are you from?” “Do you have a boyfriend?” “Is he your color or my color?” “What month are you?” “Really! I've never had a November Girl before.”

“And you're not going to today.”

“Oh, don't say that.”

“I am saying that. I'm also saying that this window is closed. I don't appreciate you knocking when there is clearly no vacancy.”

“Ahhh, GIRL. You smoka da greenie?”


“Okay, then. You let me know if you're interested in a local.”


Superbly happy to return to port, dad and I shopped around the kiosks that were run by less “interested” locals.

Just before All Aboard time, I was already on Deck 11 on a lounge chair, basking in the sun without being harassed. Sorry, Barbados. You can't take back your first impression. Lucky for you, I'm into giving second chances.

Dinner tonight was lovely, once again. We sat with Mike and Ann again. Also, a couple from California that we met the first night and I failed to mention because they are uninteresting. Funny thing...Californians being uninteresting. But it's true. Sean and Jody are an attractive, young couple, but not very conversational or relatable. This cruise was also a graduation gift for Jody. Curious how she graduated with her BA in Marriage and Family Counseling when all she could say on the first day was how she was “so confused by all of this.” "This" being the layout of the ship.

I digress.

Tonight was lovely, just as I said. The six of us had a great conversation and were highly entertained by the wait staff. They all gathered up the dining room stairs and sang for us, a lovely Italian song. 'Sol Amio.' They sang it in Italian. In forty different accents. And to make it more interesting, only one of them was Italian. I have pictures and a video.

The only other thing I had planned for this evening was to go see “Pets on Deck!” on Deck 5. I'm all excited. I'm really wanting some fur affection. I didn't know what to expect since there can't be any animals on the ship. Dad and I walk over there and it's like a Build-A-Bear workshop. Pick your animal. Pick your outfit. Stuff the hell out of it. It's yours.

Bummed, I was. Really bummed.

*Bonus photo: I found this $4 brownie when we returned to port. It lived only another 3.2 seconds after this photo was taken.

Thursday, March 11, 2010

The time i cruised with my dad. Part III

The crappy thing about cruises is that when you are too tired to write about Day Three and try to lump it with Day Four, so much has occurred that you don't remember all of the important, fun stuff worth writing about. I'll do my best.

I must also preface this by saying that Day Three is actually Day Three of my vacation but only Day Two of the cruise. Day Two of the cruise we were at sea all day.

I believe I slept until 9am. Windjammer Island Grill for breakfast wasn't overly impressive. Quaint and functional as a cafeteria/buffet line with hot breakfast foods and fresh fruit, a small selection of cold cereals and milks. (No soy milk options, though.) After I spoke with the front desk regarding my problem with their WiFi, it turns out i needed to look at a little map of "Hot Spots." Low and behold: I found myself at the Schooner Bar with my laptop.

By 11am, I was on Deck 12 in my bikini taking in the sun. The pools down below looked a little inviting, but I decided my skin needed to catch up with the other, already brown tourists. I laid on my deck chair listening to a Belly-Flop contest. After a lovely nap, forgetting to each lunch and a $9 cocktail later, it was dinner time. Formal Night or Captains Dinner, everyone was dressed up. Everyone. Of course, you have men in tuxedos, but also men in khaki pants and a collared shirt. Women in ball gowns, women in pant suits and woman in a dress that she got for graduation and was completely falling out of the top. Good move, me. Good move. Daddy and i dined alone that evening. None of our table partners joined the formal event and so we enjoyed the table-for-ten and the four attendants by ourselves.

Immediately following the formal dinner, I put jeans on. Much better. In my element. Dad and I went and stood on a lookout point above Deck 5 which was deemed the Promenade. The Promenade was shoulder to shoulder with formally dressed cruise guests getting their pictures taken, sipping the free champagne and eventually listening and watching as the captain introduced himself from a runway ramp on Deck 7. Music and dancing ensued.

The Promenade

Dad and I went to Deck 12. It was as empty as my refrigerator. There were a few standard items (Royal Caribbean employees) serving their purpose and looking busy but generally, nothing special. (No drunk people to observe.) It was a dangerously windy night up on Deck 12. As we were heading towards the front of the ship, the wind was so gusty that neither of us could hear each other and it felt as if I spread my arms and leaned into the wind, the wind would hold me up and take me away! It didn't.

Deck 11

Deck 12

We relocated to our room so dad could puff on another cancer stick. Off into the distance we saw civilization. It was pitch black outside, but we saw thousands of tiny lights. “That can't be Barbados! What island is that?” Dad calls information. “Oh that's Martinique.” FABULOUS! ...Where's Martinique?

Dad went back down to the casino. I went and tried another flavor of Ben & Jerry's. As I finished my B&J, a gentleman in the standard RC blue uniform began talking to me. He is the Senior Beverage Manager, Kenneth. Or the Booze Doctor, as he called himself and I prefer to call him. He suggested that I go see the “Tribute to the Temptations” down at The Lyric Theater. I complied. He led me down the stairs to the theater which I hadn't seen before. It's impressive. It's no Civic Center, but I bet it rivals the Hoyt Sherman in size. I sat there playing Word Mole on my phone, waiting for the show to begin, but I bored quickly and left. I slipped past Kenneth and ran upstairs. It was nearing 11pm. I needed to catch some Z's because I had a Barbados Excursion to catch in the morning.

Don't need no MANgo.

Bonus Photo: The bathroom

Monday, March 8, 2010

The time i cruised with my dad. Part II

Sunday, May 24th, 2009 - Embarkation Day

Day Two.

Dad successfully got me out of bed at 7:00am Puerto Rico time this morning. Only one hour after the first attempt. After consistently cursing and “WTFing” TSA for pushing out nearly all of my deodorant, emptying the solution out of my contact lens case and unstringing my dental floss, I was nearly ready for the day.

Breakfast was a limited menu both in the hotel and in the airport cafeteria. (Hotel was in the airport.) Not to worry though, I knew we would be eating well in Old San Juan. Pops and I grabbed a cab to the Fort Castillo San Cristobal, because history rocks. It dates back to the early 17th century as an aid in defending San Juan from landward attacks and is the largest Spanish fortification in the New World. At least, that's what the post card says.

It's pretty dope. Pictures included.

We didn't know it at the time, but that was our ship. (Above)

View from the fort.

Before we made our ascent up the hill, Dad needed a smoke, because that's what you do when you're a smoker. You prepare for a strenuous trek by smoking and you also repair your lungs after a strenuous trek by smoking. I didn't look down at the bench I was plopping my fatass onto. I slid for a quick second and guess what...there was poop all over my white capris. Awesome. Dad, being the doll that he is, used his handkerchief (A handkerchief; He's fabulously Old School like that.) to remove as much of the poop as he could. Yes, he threw the handkerchief away. Then, inside the fort, i tried to scrub off as much as i could inside the bathroom, which only smeared it and made it worse. All I could do was laugh inside my head and berate myself for such stupidity. What else could I do? “White pants, dumbass. Look before you sit.” I put my pants back on and toured the fort with poopy pants. It was only 8am.

Poopy Pants.


Following our lovely tour, Dad and I walked down the narrow streets that were lined with a Crayola assortment of buildings and shops. Mostly, we poked our heads in as we passed by, that is until we looked up at a shop that was called “White Clothes.” Convenient. “Oh, look. A pair of white capris.” I tried them on and left them on. I showed the cashier my “marred” apparel and as he snickered, he gave me a sack to put them in.

Much better.

Crayola assortment of shops.

We continued to walk through the narrow streets, this time stopping in more shops. Mostly to see the paintings, trinkets, jewelry, hats etc. Dad was looking for a straw hat in particular. Every time we thought we'd found a place with an assortment of straw hats, they were women's. I couldn't talk him into getting one of them. While we were in a large boutique, I found a gift that had Megan's name all over it; One gift down. Dad did find a Panama Jack hat right before it began to rain. First the sprinkling was light and pleasant. We continued down the street. The rain became heavy and not so pleasant. Suddenly it seemed like a good idea to find something to eat. Finding an open cafe/restaurant turned into a harder task than it needed to be. When we did find a place to have lunch while soaked, I had a wonderful surprise. My gumbo came with fried plantains. It was like finding an Andes mint under your hotel pillow. It made my rain-soaked clothes worth it.

Plantains + Gumbo + Sangria = A Happy Traveler

By 2pm our taxi had dropped us off at the pier. If you've been on a cruise before, you understand that wonderful feeling of anticipation. Hundreds of people in one line that spread, roughly, forty feet across and appeared to be a half a mile long. As we inched forward, it became visible that there were three lines. And that we were in the wrong one. “Oh, this is the line for after you have checked your luggage.” Great. Dad and I nonchalantly slipped into the line next to us. Smooth, we are. Next were the fourteen checkpoints with your passport just in case someone slipped passed security without one. It was here where the constant eyes on me and compliments about my body art began. As if the stares in the hotel weren't enough. I should have began to keep track as to how many times I heard how “beautiful” and “awesome” my tattoos are. I bet i'd be able to have free drinks all week long if I got a dollar for each comment. I think I'll start charging.

Clusterfuck Pier

Happy Traveler #1

We were on the ship and in our stateroom by 4pm. A queen sized bed. “We gotta fix this.” The bathroom resembles that of a camper. The balcony, though. Very nice. We will both be spending a lot of time out here.

After a quick emergency drill, we found our dining room and were placed at our assigned seats. First, we meet Ann and Mike, a very fun and oddly-paired couple from New Jersey. Ann's accent is killer. I saw her and Mike a few more times throughout the rest of the evening. I have a feeling we'll bounce around with them a few times. At least, I hope so.

At dinner, we began to feel like Royalty. Napkins were placed in our laps. We could order as many entrees or appetizers on the menu as we wanted. When we get back to our room, our bed was fixed and we noticed a menu to have breakfast delivered in the morning. As dad was having a smoke on the balcony, we realized that San Juan was slowly moving to the left. I hurried him up so we could view our departure from the top deck.

I had been aloof and somber since I had woken up. I hadn't felt a lot of excitement until our ship began its voyage. Immediately I was in a mental state of disbelief. "This is so effing cool. Damn." The twelfth deck was a happenin' place. A Jamaican band was playing familiar Rastafarian tunes, mostly by Bob Marley. A few by Shaggy. People were drunk and dancing merrily. Some people were sober and dancing merrily. The Caribbean air had intoxicated them.

Dad and I stood by the railing, watching the water splash some hundred feet below. When looking out at sea, you could tell where the horizon was, but it was a black abyss after the Mount Fiji-sized, dark cloud had passed. Eery, amazing and phenomenal. Nearly four thousand people at the mercy of the sea. After dad left down to the casino, I walked to the other end of the ship. Against the railing I could see the tiny lights of Puerto Rico slowly blinking out. I don't know how long I stood there.

Wednesday, March 3, 2010

The time i cruised with my dad. Part I

Nearly a year ago, my dad and i decided to take a cruise together. We left my poor, CPA mother behind to whittle after tax season. Neither of us had been on a cruise before. And other than Canada, my father had never experienced the world outside of the US.

The highlight: My 68 year old father swam in the Caribbean ocean with me.

I tried to keep a log each day and of course they are from my point of view. When i could, i posted them onto my facebook page for my friends to read. Re-reading them now, i realize what a cheeseball i am.

The evening of May 23rd, 2009

Day One.

When this trip was planned, there were over one hundred days until embarkation. Being the type of person who counts down to the last hours, i knew that it would make the waiting period drag on even longer. Somehow i waited and didn't log into the Royal Caribbean site until last Monday. "6 days until embarkation!" Oh shit.

Tuesday i ran to Target for the obligatory "Trip Shopping" that many of us females use as an excuse to buy...to buy whatever, really. I got some "Jackie-O" large, obnoxious sunglasses that i had intended on buying and a big, floppy hat. I needed some jewelry for the dresses i got for the cruise and some SPF70 sunblock spray. Also, an eight-ball of coke, four tabs of acid, a cabana boy and probably the girliest pair of flip flops that i will ever own. (Just kidding, Boss! I didn't get a cabana boy!)

At that point, i was pretty well set. Friday comes and i've left all other trip preparations to the last minute. Naturally. I work better under pressure. Laundry, superfluous errands, obtain luggage from storage, boyfriend time, etc. Check. Check. Check. And check.

Saturday the 23rd @ 3am: Alarm goes off. Do any of you know what NPR airs at 3am? Nothing important. I shower. I fall asleep in the shower. I wake up in the shower. I scramble like a frantic ant that lost its "Mound of Dirt Home" to some asshole who swept it away while walking by. Fifteen minutes, two packed bags and one shoddy makeup-job later, i'm kissing my sleepy kitty goodbye.

Flight to Chicago was made pleasant by the toddler who sat in front of me. No, really. He was a very good baby. He flirted with me from time to time and never made a sound. The five hour flight to San Juan was smooth. Now Papa and i are relaxing our exhausted bodies in our room. Free WiFi. Check. Bringing the laptop was a good move.

Next mission: Food.

Update: Dinner hit the spot like sperm to an ovum. What did i have? I'm so glad you asked. What would i eat every day of the week if given the chance? ....SUSHI. Papa and i went downstairs to the hotel bistro and there it was, as customary as french fries. It had its own little section on the menu like soups, salads, entrees and appetizers. "Sushi." It was like showing up to your surprise birthday party. You can't get over such a lovely thought.

Do all the menus in San Juan have its own sushi section? Gawd, i hope so. That is a world that i want to some day live in.

The happy toddler who kept flirting with me.

Post landing-and-luggage-retrieval smoke.