Tuesday, November 11, 2008

Cruise Part II: Bacon every day, while tasty is bad for you.

In case you didn't know it, cruise ships are giant fattening pens. I would swear that the fat couple in the suite next door were kidnapped and served to me the next day as a steak.

The weird part is this: At any time of day, if I wanted to, I could eat, but for some reason having a 24/7 buffet is like food magic. Everyone on ship worships the Holy Self Serve Soft Serve Machine, and as soon as it's open until it closes, there is a line of happy people. Every time I get one, I get the brain freeze.

Waffles in the afternoon? Awesome! Room Service, No Charge. Afternoon finger sandwiches and pastries, yep it's all there. While most of the buffet is pretty standard, and occasionally surprisingly nasty (hot dogs, hamburgers and pizza no better than High School Cafeteria quality), The main dinner, every night was outstanding.

Our waiters worked their asses off for their end of cruise tips. For all their bustling speed to refill your water, or bring you bread, they were always cheerful with a smile and a joke, while working an early and late dinner seatings.

Don't be fooled though. If you ever see a gourmet menu that says, "Golden Delicious Apple Soup" just remember, that it's glorified apple sauce. Here I was thinking I was being adventurous and it was just fucking applesauce. Escargot btw...snails. Tasty, tasty snails (eaten for the first time by me)

Since the kitchen works it's ass off to make an estimated number of dishes, not everyone shows up to their appointed dinner time choosing instead to go to the buffet for some retarded reason, the waiters would bring us extra plates of unordered food. So when I didn't like my lamb, I had an instant replacement. The only downside of dinner was that the dining room was designed to put me to sleep. You have low lighting, and a piano playing old standards (and in one case Journey's Faithfully). If I had any money I'd go over to them and throw em a wad of cash like Rodney Dangerfeild in Caddyshack and tell em to spice it up.

Don't get me started on desert. Just know that there is a limit to the amount of chocolate I can eat, and it has been reached. On the other hand, all non-chocolate deserts were equally delicious.

You are seated at a table with strangers for the week, and by the time you leave, you are strangers no longer. Luckily for us, all our table mates were young and pleasant to talk to. Get this: they laughed at my jokes (I know), maybe they were lightly retarded. Two of the couples were newlyweds, that weekend, the other 2 years, so that made me and Ale the Old Married Couple. But we didn't try to impart any "wisdom" instead we fucked with them by trying to get to the table first so we could take their seats and force them to shift around. Clever eh? Perhaps we should have tried to short sheet their beds too.

Feeling Irie Mon

Remember kids, if you want an authentic cultural experience, do not take a cruise. All you see is facade, and a poor one at that. You have to voluntarily turn off your brain and your eye. Perhaps thats why people drink so much on the cruise.

At each of your ports you get to either leave the boat or stay on. So you can plan your excursions to while away the time.

Our first stop was Haiti. Yes Haiti, one of the most fucked up countries on earth.. Royal Caribbean has rented a cove and some land to build some bars and some zip lines for their guests. You are surrounded by water and giant walls, as Ale pointed out, "You are inside Jurassic Park.

There the natives try to sell you their native crafts and drinks on the beach. It's an odd feeling. We left the walls to go to up a hill and ride an really fun zip line. 500' vertical, 2500' horizontal run over the water, but on the way up we pass a group of natives sitting by the side of the road breaking large rocks into small rocks with standard hammers for the exterior of the restaurant being built inside the park.

In Jamaica we do another zip line, but this time through the jungle canopy. We see no exotic birds, or monkeys. It's just trees. On the way up the mountain our tour guide Ana Marie tells us this: There are three things you need know what to say while in Jamaica, "Yeah Mon, No Problems and Irie (great)" So on the way, the Hogs practice saying them over and over again to my minor annoyance. Cap'n Whitey don't feel comfortable speaking native.

When we get to the excursion location I am pleased to notice how professional the native guides are with their equipment, especially telling when they ask me not to apply by bug spray near the nylon harnesses because it will damage the nylon.

Walking to the first platform I notice my guide talking in 3 voices. The first is when I ask him how he's doing and instead of saying, "Irie Mon" he says, "I'm doing well thank you." But then as he calls out to the Hogs to see if they are doing ok on the slippery path and they respond, "No Problem Mon!" he calls out back to them in Kind. It sounds like he's playing a role. Of course with his buddies he's talking rapid fire patois mix of french and english. None of the guides on the platforms talk Rasta English to me when I ask how they are doing and what's up. Here is the only place I'm willing to voluntarily fist bump anyone when they say, "How bout some respect?"

This is after US Election day. The Jamaicans are incredibly jubilant Obama won, and we share in that happiness.

Grand Cayman, you know that place where all that money that was stolen from you is secretly hidden? Our snorkel is canceled and rather than snorkel 50' from a cruise ship as replacement we opt instead for a 100' submarine dive.

This is very cool even though we hardly see any interesting fish. Stupid fish. Rumor has it there was a sea turtle by I was looking in the wrong place. A barracuda was spotted on the starboard side, but I missed that too because I was on the port side. I'd love to be a sub mariner on my own mini sub.

Cozumel: Underwater Scooter Diving. More on this later. As previously mentioned, I bonked my head on coral rock while snorkeling. Luckily for me, it was dead or I would have far worse than a scrape on me head. As it is, it's long enough to have to let my hair grow out while it heals so I don't keep tearing the scab off. Hindsight makes it frightening when I realize that I could have involuntarily taken a double lung of water then drowned. That would have sucked, ne?

We don't leave the port area, pursuing the shops. They are each and everyone identical. Later we hear the onboard comedian make his only funny joke: Nothing like taking a half a billion dollar boat to a garage sale." His other jokes are so bad we walk out while he is doing get this: The Wizard of Oz starring Woody Allen, Christopher Walken and Robert De Niro as the Cowardly Lion. Really, he stooped to Di Niro impressions.

The Wonderful World Of

After the cruise Alessandra and I rented a car in Orlando go spin off to Downtown Disney so Ale could get a breaded steak at Gloria Estefan's restaurant Bongos. It's weird. If you don't really plan for it or get your head in that particular game, going to a Disney property is even more surreal than it normally is. There was an art and crafts fair going on, so we saw a lot of laughably bad and/or tacky art.

One vendor was interesting though. He does photo collage ("but I haven't gone digital"), and he made one recently of Obama which he super imposed over the Constitution and highlighted, "All Men are Created Equal". He discovered that people were either very moved, and in some cases to tears, or really put off by it. He was hanging around his stall with a camera hoping to catch that elusive shot. He told us that the Disney Grapevine was working full force because employees were coming by to buy him out of his smaller prints.

To kill some time between breakfast and what would obviously be supper, we took in a movie. Zack & Miri Make a Porno. We thought it was both funny & good while being tickled that this was showing on a Disney Property. The last movie we watched at that particular theatre was Fight Club. After our dinner we went back to the airport to await our long, sad flight home.

Photo highlights to follow

Your title spoke to me. After our first cruise, I came to the realization that just because I *could* have bacon for breakfast every morning, didn't mean that I *should*. :o)

When we went to Ochos Rios, we took a chance on one of the "tour guides" (basically a guy who owned a cab), and let him take us around. It was the best excursion! For $80.00 he took us all over, and we got to see sights and meet people that we would never have had the chance to otherwise. He was well versed in the flora and fauna of the area as well, which was very cool.

Anyway, it sounds like you had a great time. Royal Caribbean is a wonderful cruise line, their ships are beautiful, and we've never had a bad trip with them.
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