I have to share with you... I went on a cruise last week. My very first cruise ever. I've always wanted to do that, but I guess I figured I'd need to wait until I was going on a honeymoon or some such crazy event like that in order to sign up to go on a cruise. But I assure you, that is so not the case with this trip.
My cousin was going with three of her co-workers. But due to unforeseen circumstances, one of her co-workers had to back out. Some time after that, I was extended the invitation. So, I went with my cousin and two women that I'd met, but didn't know all that well.
And I had a GREAT time!
We sailed with Carnival on the ship Fascination out of Jacksonville to the Bahamas. All of Carnival's ships have a theme. The theme of the Fascination was "Experience Hollywood". The staff of the Fascination come from 58 different countries and every name tag included where that person was from. For instance, our Cruise Director was Trevor from Canada.
Our cabin was on the Verandah deck. We didn't have a balcony overlooking the water or anything like that. But we could go out to the bow of the ship for a gorgeous view. The Verandah is one of the upper decks on the boat, so we felt like we were right in the middle of things. And then there was Aldrin (sorry, I can't remember where Aldrin was from), taking care of our rooms and making us towel animals for our beds when he turned them down every evening.
We spent a lot of time on the Lido deck. There we could sit pool-side in the sun (under a sun-brella, of course) visiting and reading...and enjoying some of the entertainment. The Lido deck is also where you'll find all of the buffets. There was a grill for hamburgers and such. There was a stir-fry grill where you could choose your own ingredients. There was a pizzeria, a deli, and a salad bar. And there was even a dinner bar with eight different options of bread and gourmet foods with long titles...like "Bourbon and Honey-Glazed Roasted Spring Chicken" and "Beef and Barley Soup with Diced Root Vegetables".
We attended the Captain's Dinner three of the four nights we were there. Talk about lovely. We were fed in the Sensation Dining Room, which was on the Promenade deck. The food was divine! And the wait staff was wonderful. We had Yuda from Indonesia and Ranilo from the Philippines as our servers. Not only were they great waiters, they could sing and dance. I know this only because they performed for us a couple of times. And Elvis from Croatia was our Maitre D'. He was entertaining...and GORGEOUS!
We sang karaoke, visited the shops, looked at all the pictures, danced, played bingo, and watched a couple of comedians (HILARIOUS!!!) and the fastest juggler I've ever seen. Much of that was on the Atlantic deck. And we stopped at Freeport (which we didn't get off to visit) and Nassau (which we did).
About the Bahamas... I have to admit, I enjoyed my time on the ship more than my time on the island. I'm not much of a shopper and didn't fully appreciate the magnitude of the Bahamians desire to sell their wares. Talk about overwhelming. There seemed to be little opportunity to simply 'window shop'. Every sales person wanted to engage us, know our favorite colors, our sizes, etc., in order to perfectly meet our needs...or theirs...so they could make a sale. Like I said, I found it all very overwhelming.
Case in point: In one of the shops, they were selling Cuban cigars. One of the girls I was traveling with wondered if she could purchase one and take it back to the States for her husband. We knew we couldn't purchase one IN the States, but didn't really know the rules about taking one BACK to the States. So, she asked the lady behind the counter. Needless to say, this woman neither knew the laws pertaining to such things, nor did she care. Her suggestion, "Don't tell them." We decided against the cigar.
As we were discussing it outside while sitting on the sidewalk waiting for our other two traveling mates, a young girl of maybe 10 years of age, who was selling wooden turtles on a leash, offered this advice. This is very nearly a quote. "You can take 12 with you. If you want to take 50, you have to get your friends to help you. Each person can only take 12. But you have to take the labels off."
I asked in my I-can-speak-to-a-10-year-old voice, "Wouldn't that be considered cheating?" She simply replied, "No." And there you have it. The rules of commerce according to a Bahamian 10-year-old girl.
We later learned that if any Cuban cigars were purchased, they'd have to be smoked and/or disposed of on the ship prior to passing through Customs into the US.
All in all, I had a wonderful time. Suffice it to say, I will definitely be going on a cruise again. And I'm looking forward to it already!