Wednesday, March 18, 2015

Cruisin' - The First Couple of Days

These last 30 days or so have been so busy that I've had no time to get caught up with blogging and other things.   I'd better get crackin'!

The next big event on my calendar after my trip to Florida was a Caribbean cruise.  I've never been on an open-water cruise before. My only experience sleeping aboard a cruise ship was when I took a Fjord cruise while in Norway in 2002.  I flew from Oslo to Trondheim, north of the arctic circle, boarded a small fjord ship, and set sail south along the coast line, making stops along the way in the cute little towns of Kristiansund and Alesund, where we had a chance to get off the ship and walk the little village for a few hours before re-embarking.  It never lost sight of land and ended in Bergen two days and two nights later.

Flashback to my 2002 Norway Fjord cruise:  Breathtaking views of fjords and
villages nestled into the creases.
Snow-capped mountains in the background

Norway 2002: Afternoon espresso aboard our cozy little fjord ship

My chance to take a 7-day Caribbean cruise on a giant ship came up when a friend put the word out that he was looking for a cabin-mate for a cruise in late February. He was going with a dive group and would be diving in all three ports of call:  Cozumel, Roatan, and Belize.  I don't dive but the opportunity to take a cruise - something that's hard to do for a widowed single woman - was exciting.  The available shore excursion options looked to be plentiful and varied and I knew I'd be able to find things to do.

Terms and conditions of cabin-sharing were agreed to, and I submitted my deposit to the travel agent who was also the dive master and organizer of the dive group.  Fast forward through the holidays, several communiques from the travel agent, and some pleasantly surprising additional discounts, and the trip was soon upon us.
View of the ship, the Emerald Princess, as we arrived in the shuttle bus
On Sunday, February 22, we parked the car at the Best Western, took their shuttle to the ship, boarded, threw our carry-on luggage into our cabin, and then set out exploring.  Did I mention that this is a giant ship?   It will take me days to figure out what's where and how to get there.  But the ship is absolutely gorgeous and our stern cabin, on the Baja deck, with giant corner balcony, is very nice.  Small, but efficiently laid out with plenty of storage space, a mini-fridge, and very decent bathroom.

Huge balcony, nearly as big as the cabin

The real downside to the cabin floor plan was the fact that the bunks were the first things encountered upon entering the cabin and therefore acted as a barrier to the rest of the room. From a practical and convenience standpoint, the larger open area of the room was just not easily accessible or usable for me, since it was on the far side of my cabin mate's bed.  I found that my cabin time was limited to my little tiny bunk-and-one-foot aisle corner of the room.  My cabin mate, whether intentional or not, pretty much commandeered the remaining space, including all of the flat surfaces in the room, the chairs, the desk surface and drawers, and floor space, since all of it was right next to his bunk.

I knew there'd be trouble the next morning when, after the cabin steward moved my neatly folded pajamas and knitting bag from my bed to the chair when he made my bed, my cabin mate demanded that I move my things.  Uh oh... turf war!

I called him out on this demand by pointing out to him my situation, saying, "Wait...why do I have to move my things from the chair?  The only space I have is this little bunk, tiny nightstand, and narrow aisle.  You have all of the remaining 2/3 of the cabin space - the desk, the chairs, all of the floor space - where you can spread out."  I remember my words well, because I took a few moments to compose my thoughts and my words before speaking them out loud.  Though he did apologize for making that demand, it couldn't change the room's architectural layout or the fact that he felt compelled to say it in the first place.  It still hung in the air.

my cabin mate's living space, including all of the open floor space,
all of the flat surfaces, chairs, desk drawers and cupboards.  Even the
open space behind the drapes was taken up with his giant bags of dive gear.
To keep the peace, I just stayed in my own little corner of the cabin...all 24 sq feet of it, and never used the greater space except to pass through to the balcony.

My living space for seven days.  Just this little single bunk, tiny
night stand and one foot wide aisle.
We had a meet-and-greet in one of the lounges and then a casual dinner in one of the dining rooms with the dive group.  The conversation was pretty much all about diving, so I was definitely the outsider, not unlike when a group of IBA members or marathon runners get together.  If you're not part of the "in" group, you're going to be excluded from the conversation.  No big deal.  I would not be spending much if any time with these people, including my cabin-mate.  I had my Kindle, which was loaded with new books, my knitting, my running shoes, and my ability to sit with complete strangers who have no agenda and strike up a conversation.

The next full day was at sea.  I got up early, took a brisk two mile walk around the promenade deck - one lap is equal to 1/3 mile, so this was a whole lot of laps - then had breakfast.  Then I spent the rest of the day exploring the ship, eating, exploring, eating, and then getting dressed up for our first "formal" dining night with the group.

After a fitful night trying to sleep, I vowed not to join the group at our appointed 7;30 PM dinner reservation in the Da Vinci dining room anymore.  It was close to 9 PM by the time we actually had food in front of us and this simple gal is just not used to eating so much so late at night.

Tuesday morning and we arrived in Cozumel!!  I have plans for the day and they do not include scuba diving.  They involve wine and chocolate....stay tuned!


  1. Wow. I too have never been on a cruise or open water.

    I wish your cabin mate was a little more considerate, but that can't be helped. Enjoy the sunshine and shore adventures.

  2. I'll just chalk it up to experience.