Thursday, August 04, 2005

Part II: Sailing Takes Me Awaaaay

So, we got on the ship without too much fuss. It takes about 90 minutes for the whole check-in process. There was a minor scare on my part when I realized my passport was still in my maiden name. I just put it aside after our honeymoon and figured I wouldn't be using it again anytime soon, since I had gone my whole life before that without ever setting foot outside the country (aside from Mexico). We had plenty of warning from the cruise line that we'd be needing our passports, but I was thinking instead of how we'd get unlimited food and lots of liquor. There wasn't any room left in my head for beauraucratic crap. I wasn't sure if I should be relieved or scared that my passport passed inspection.

Once we got on the ship, we went to our room and opened every drawer and cabinet, I flung myself on the bed (ow, don't do that), looked out the window, hurled ourselves against the walls, squealed at the free stuff in the bathroom, twirled around, danced a jig, checked out what channels we get on the TV and what movies they'd be showing that week (two words sum up the selection: total crap). Ahem, we did all the important stuff that mature adults do when they check into a room.

I had a hard time convincing the Mr. that just about everything on the ship was free. The whole first day, anything we did was followed by the question, "And this is free?" One thing that totally isn't free is the shore excursions, which we were able to book from our room. "I'll tell you one thing I'm not doing," I said, "is scuba diving." You've seen Open Water, right? I think I referenced the movie about 10 times the whole week. The Mr. thought I was crazy, but how would you like to be stuck in the middle of the ocean as shark bait? I plan to take every precaution to ensure that never happens. In fact, when we were snorkeling later in the week, I popped my head out of the water every few minutes to make sure the boat hadn't sailed off without me. No matter that the shore was right there. Also, no matter that the Mr. would probably not let that happen, unless I were being hella crabby. That movie scarred me for life, I'm saying.

They shippy-powers-that-be made a big announcement that we'd have to meet at our Muster Station (which the Mr. decided would sound much cooler if they called it the Monster Station) for a mandatory safety briefing. There were only two interesting things at this meeting: 1) some girl passed out because they made us stand out in the heat forever while waiting for this thing to get started and 2) they said that if there weren't enough lifeboats for all the passengers, then women and children would go first. "They're still doing that?" I asked the Mr. "Well, then, I guess I'll see ya. Good luck with your swim!" It made me wonder, if they're still doing that, does the captain also still go down with the ship? We saw him at dinner a couple nights during the cruise, and I so wanted to ask him, but I chickened out. He probably doesn't like to think about it. Maybe he saw Open Water, too.

After the safety briefing, we learned the sushi bar was open. And to the Mr.'s delight, also free! Yum.

A few hours after that, we had dinner. You can choose to either eat in the casual restaurant, which is pretty much cafeteria style, or you can seat in the nicer full-service dining room where the table you're assigned is your table for the entire cruise, and you have the same waiter, drink steward and busboy for the duration. We were alternately nervous and excited about the dining room because often, you're seated with other people, and if these people suck, you're stuck with them for a week. Or you have to spend the week hiding from them by eating in the cafeteria.

We arrived and the hostess took us to our table: a two top. We exchanged looks as they seated us. After they left, the Mr. and I just kind of stared at each other for a second.
"We're not seated with other people. I'm confused," I said.
"I know. What's going on?"
"Did they give you some kind of personality test when you got the tickets that revealed us as kind of antisocial? I mean, how did they know?"
"They didn't ask me anything! This is so weird."
"I'm kind of relieved. But a little sad."
"Yeah, that couple behind you [on a four top, both couples were youngish] just shook hands and introduced themselves."
"Aw, man! They made friends! Now they're going to be BFFs."

It wasn't really so bad. The Mr. and I do like talking to each other, so it wasn't a big deal. But I think a part of us were kind of hoping that in an ideal scenario, we'd meet a really cool couple around our age to have nice meals with every night. We still had nice meals, a lot of conversations and we also spent a lot of time gossipping about our fellow diners and giving them nicknames. There were the aforementioned BFFs, who the Mr. would give me updates on each night, like, "They don't seem to have much to say to each other tonight." or "Man, they're really having fun over there." or "The guys are really talking, but the girls aren't saying much." There was Coke Fiend, a girl who went to the bathroom about 8 times during one meal, and showed up one night completely hungover. There was Delroy Lindo, at left, who we were convinced was actually him, but now that I'm comparing this picture with ones on imdb, am not so sure. What do you guys think?

The question of whether we were meant to sit with other people was answered one morning when we decided to have breakfast in the dining room and you don't get your usual dinner table. We were seated with a pretty nice family, but it was 8 a.m., and the dad seemed really intent on having a conversation, while we were intent on merely waking up. Although he did tell us about one "cool" snorkeling trip he and his sons took where you just float out and let the current carry you and the boat eventually comes and picks you up, often one or two miles away from where you first started.

Obviously, he hasn't seen Open Water.