Location: Somewhere in the North Atlantic Ocean
~ DAY ONE ~
The day started out different to the one before. Today there was a particular sense of excitement buzzing around through out the air. The countdown had finally reached its end and the next exhilarating saga was about to begin. Yes, today was the day we board Royal Caribbean’s Monarch of the Seas and embark on our journey to The Bahamas.
Royal Caribbean’s terminal at Port Canaveral is swarming with people; all as eager and bright-eyed as I to board the ship. The check in line is long and some of the younger guests begin to get irritated by this. As I patiently wait I wonder how many of these guests are first-time cruise-goers like myself.
Check in goes as smoothly as one could hope. The ship is money-less so we are given SeaPass cards which act as our room key as well as a debit/credit card. Once swiped the crew on board can detect our age and verify that the card is ours via a hideous photo that is taken upon entry. Now, let me tell you, this is no ordinary photo. This photo is taken from roughly stomach height looking up toward your face. This is not only the worst angle ever imaginable, but now in my photo, I look like a repulsive, three-chined, sweaty dragon lady; an eager one none the less. Can’t wait to flash that one to my bar-tenders later on tonight when I’m all gussied up. Dragon lady who?
Upon stepping foot onto the ship, we are welcomed by many of the ships crew and an array of alcoholic beverages, all chargeable to our SeaPass card, of course. We decide it would be best to find our cabin, throw our luggage in there and then make our way to the pool deck for a swim before dinner. We are in stateroom 5009 which is down an extremely long hall, away from all the noise and commotion. The room is, well, tiny, to say the least; tiny yet extremely cute. We have two single beds and another set of two beds which fold down from the walls to make bunk beds. There is a small closet, a TV, a full length mirror and another half body mirror on the dresser as well as a small bedside table between the two bottom beds. The bathroom is, well, again, tiny. If you were slightly on the larger side I’m not exactly sure you’d have the most pleasing of times trying to fit not only into the shower, but into the bathroom itself. Despite the size of the room, it really is pretty much all we need. After all, who goes on a cruise to The Bahamas and does nothing more than stay in their cabin? Yeah, that’s what I thought.
Before we can go and enjoy the pool, everyone is to meet on deck for a compulsory safety briefing. I hate this part, just like I hate it when I’m on a plane flying over the ocean. What to do if the ship sinks in the middle of no where and you’re stranded with no land or human life (except those on the ship) for thousands of miles out; ugh, it gives me the heeby geebyz. A life jacket, a whistle and a flash light is not going to protect me from a hungry great white shark that sees me helplessly kicking around in the water and thinks I’m a stranded seal, or worse, the dessert that accompanies the seal. It is at this safety briefing that we meet Mike. Mike is conveniently standing by us with his family when he hears is talking about Disney. He turns around and starts talking to us. Coincidentally he is also a Disney Cast Member on the College Program and lives right across from my old apartment at Chatham Square. Coincidence? I think not! The never ending safety briefing finally ends. Imagine that.
By now, the ship has departed Port Canaveral, en route to the island of Coco Cay in The Bahamas. We get our bathing suits on and head to Deck 11 which is where the pool is situated. It is crazy hot out and the pool water looks so wonderfully inviting minus the horde of children floating around in it. My feet are burning on the hot floor. I can’t wait any longer. Without even thinking, I jump right in. AHHHHHHH! It burns! Upon surfacing I scurry around like a crazy dragon lady to find the pool ledge. My eye balls are burning in their sockets and my throat is stinging as if I’d just downed ten shots of straight up Limoncello. This is not chlorinated water; it’s the saltiest water ever to roam the earth. If I dumped 50 kilograms of salt into my bathtub and then some, this pool water would still be saltier! Gross!
After adjusting to the unhealthy levels of salt in the pool, I later find subtle enjoyment from this. While resting on the ledge, I see completely dry pool-goers, eager to find peace from the fierce heat jumping on it. Little do they know the water is salt city until it is too late. I find happiness while watching them scurry on over to the ledge while screaming out in a salty panic. Call me evil, but I’m sure someone did the same thing to me when I jumped in only minutes before. The next victim is our new friend, Mike. He walks up to the ledge and jumps on in. Poor Mike.
After spending several hours in the pool and looking wrinkly beyond belief, we head back to our cabin to prepare for dinner. Our dinner seating is at 8:30pm in Vincent’s Dining Room on Deck 3. Tonight is just a casual seating so we dress neatly and appropriately. The dining room is rather large. Upon estimation, I’d think it could seat maybe 500 people. There is also another dining room above us called Claude’s Dining Room which too has an 8:30pm seating. Both rooms also have an earlier seating of 5:45pm. Since this is our first dinner, we are escorted to table 91; this will remain our dining table for the next four nights. We are at the back of the room right by the kitchen which means super fast service. We are greeted by our waiters who introduce themselves at Ning, our waitress, and Jonathan, our assistant waiter. Both are very lovely and go out of their way to attend to our needs which they soon become very accustom to: a glass of hot water for Jessica upon arrival, no veggies for myself and Mike, plenty of sour dough bread rolls for us all and never ending glasses of lemonade. They are extremely accommodating and apologetic for the tiniest of things. Tonight I order myself a caesar salad for the appetizer and a flat iron steak with garlic butter sauce and a baked potato for my main, which, by the way was super delicious. Dessert is something similar to a chocolate molten lava cake, just without the lava. The inside is deliciously rich and moist. I also enjoy a side of lemon gelato which goes down a treat. Before leaving, Ning tells us that there is breakfast served in the dining room every morning until 9:30am, but since we are youngens she doesn’t expect to see us there. Between you and me, I think ‘young’ is her nice was of saying ‘drunks’.
We have some time to kill before tonight’s planned activities so we head to what soon becomes one of Jessica’s favourite places on board the ship, yes, that’s right, the Casino Royale. To be honest, neither of us really have any clue what we are doing but we each decide to gamble a few harmless dollars. I sit at a slot machine, put in a dollar bill, press the 20 lines by 3 button, and just like that, the machine howls at me and I’ve won $4.27; I am excited beyond belief… that is, until, I play my winnings and lose it all. Ah, such is life. I can’t let this steep loss get to me though, because tonight is 70’s night and we are ready to boogie the night away!
70’s night kicks off at 10:30pm sharp on Deck 3 right out side Vincent’s Dining Room. The entertainment crew come out wearing crazy big afro’s and florescent, vibrant costumes and start dancing away to some Saturday Night Fever. Not before too long, they are pulling guests out onto the dance floor and we’re all getting down. I’m not one to dance while sober, but the music was too good to refuse. The dancing crew jumped into the transparent elevators in front of the dance floor and started riding them up and down while getting their disco dance on inside. Every time a new guest would step foot into the elevator, they’d make them dance around like crazy; it was hilarious. A massive conga line was formed and travelled around Deck 3 and the Village People even made a surprise visit. If this was the outlook for the next three days then this cruise was going to be amazing!
After 70’s night we made our way over to one of the 18+ clubs on the ship, The Circuit. We head straight to the bar and order ourselves a Bud Light. Beer after beer after beer was consumed. We drank so much that the bar tenders even learned our names and knew what we wanted before we even ordered. Tonight we made many friends while drinking and dancing that, despite knowing yet, we’d bump into many a time throughout the duration of our cruise. We wound down at Sorreno’s Pizza Bar at 3am and somehow made it back to our cabins some time after that and passed out.
Despite only being 12 hours long, day one was nothing short of amazing!
~ To be continued ~