Day One: Cocoa Beach, FL and At Sea
The hotel van deposits us at the cruise terminal. As soon as we get out of the van, surly attendants rush up to drag our luggage the 10 feet from van to cart. For this they demand “gratuities”, gruffly and often. Left to my own devices, I would have told them to “go do bad things to themselves”, but Marylu is kind-hearted and the nearest one gets a few bucks to put in the jar. I hate “service” people like them. They are a turd in my ice cream.
As the tourist throng boards the ship, it is transformed into a mighty herd. Food is presented and the feeding frenzy starts. Calves grab little bites and run around franticly sniffing everything. Adults stream this way and that, exploring, looking for nesting sites. The old cows and bulls waddle slowly and purposefully toward the richest grazing spots and settle in for a good long chew.
Having eaten enough to last until the next feeding time, I search out a comfortable resting spot in the shade where I can observe my fellow travelers. Just a pure ballpark estimate, but I would say the crowd is composed of the following proportions; small children – one tablespoon, teenagers – one cup, young adults – two cups, middle age adults – two cups, seniors – three cups. There seems to be a big percentage of very large, fat people. Huge slabs of gelatinous flesh protrude from bathing suits that are obviously exceeding their load limit. The poolside area (next to the bar and grill) looks like a pod of walrus that has invited the neighbor hippos over.
The mighty ship roars to life and sails free. The passengers have been fed a few more times. The drinks have been flowing freely. But not free. Nothing with alcohol is free onboard. Night falls, accented by the sky glow of Miami off in the distance. In the theater, the Cruise Director hosts the first show of dancers, musicians, acrobats, and a comedian. The lounge runs a musical trivia karaoke contest where everyone wins. The cruise is underway.
Day Two – at Sea
It is a long sail from Port Canaveral to Costa Maya so we will spend the entire day on the sea. The herd is settling into their favorite spots. Teens rove the ship in little packs, enthusiastically sniffing butts and establishing alphas. Young singles preen around the poolside bar, maximum oiled flesh and tail feathers on display. Older singles take up residence in the whirlpools, chin deep like crocodiles, using their wit for bait. The ponderous old waddle slowly down the hallways between the pool area and the buffet. Uniformed crew members scurry about their appointed tasks with genuine (or at least realistic) good humor and cheer.
Day Three – Costa Maya
Our excursion is aboard rented ATVs for a romp through jungle and beach. There are remnants of road, paths hacked through palm tree forest, and steep banking trails across the sand dunes by the beach. We haul ass, faster than prudence or wisdom would dictate and have a great time. Stand up for the bumps and use the legs for shock absorbers. I manage to keep up with the leader and only hit one tree.
After the ATV run, we are bussed back downtown and deposited on the main beach. Our wristbands allow us open access to the bar and our server, Ezekiel, helps us abuse it. From weak margaritas and decent beer, to straight shots of tequila, ‘Zeke keeps them coming and manages to have several himself. We limp back to the ship for a much needed nap.
Day Four – Georgetown, Grand Cayman
The bus driver for our tour is a funny old guy named Waldo. He tells us about the various sights along the way, historic statues, the government buildings, the famous mailboxes where trillions of US Dollars take their tax-free vacations. First stop is the Seven Fathoms Rum Company. We herd into the bar room at the front and begin our assault on the rum. Bottles of rum line the bar: Aged, Gold, Spiced, Banana, Peach, Coconut, and others. We are handed little cups and shot glasses and again, the feeding frenzy is on. After about a half hour or so, I guess, the actual tour starts.
Our last stop is at the Caybrew beer brewery. We are running a little late so we decline the actual tour offered and just settle in to drink mass quantities of beer. The beer is lightly hopped and light to medium malty, very drinkable and refreshing. We abuse the free beer for as long as we can get away with it. Back to the ship for another nap.
Day 5 – Ocho Rios, Jamaica
The Bamboo Beach tour is a very professional operation. The buses wheel the tourists into a central plaza where they must walk a gauntlet of photographers, souvenir shops, hair braiders, massage tables, and rum sellers. Our group is escorted to a clearly marked slice of the beach, where our hostesses settle us into flimsy plastic lawn chairs. Then they start making repeated trips to the central kitchen for trays full of food and drink to hand out to us. Plantain, callaloo, fritters, and jerk chicken on one tray. Rum punch, mojitos, and beer on the next. Repeat as needed until the tourists are satiated or it is time to go. Between sun, surf, chicken, and beer, it is a full day and we drag butt back to the ship for a nap.
Day 6 – At Sea
About the same as Day 2, but now everyone has established favorites. We know we can get fancy food, cold and slow, in the main dining rooms or buffet food, cold and promptly in the main buffet rooms. We know where to go and when. The people watching is still interesting but, for some reason, the teens rarely appear except as fleeting groups enroute to something.
Day 7 – Great Stirrup Cay, Bahamas
Norwegian Cruise Lines actually owns this island and they use it to best effect. As soon as we disembark from the tender, there is the obligatory souvenir shop. A little further on we see a broad expanse of beach with hundreds of beach chairs, concrete indoor restrooms, a big cafeteria, and a few shops that rent wave runners, paddle boards, snorkels, and various other water toys. We spend the day bathing in shade, sun, and water, then chow down on some good BBQ ribs and chicken. No beer today so no nap required.
Day 8 – Back to Port
We are up at the break of dawn, packed, fed, and herded onto dry land. It has been a nice week, away from everything, but it will be good to get back to Gypsy, the internet, TV, and the Mainland.