Thursday, February 12, 2015

Caribbean Running Cruise Day 1 - Embarcation Day

After a lazy morning (breakfast by the pool, a long walk on the beach, and browsing at a very large, very strange gift shop full of tat), we took an Uber to Port Everglades. We had a nice chat with our driver about running, cruises, San Francisco, Florida's flatness, and Morocco, of all things. 

Wil had received an email telling him we should arrive at the cruise terminal at 2. Which seemed absurd, since we needed to be on board at 3. It was also absurd that the email was sent to Wil, rather than me, since the reservation was primarily in my name. So… since *I* hadn't received that email, we just decided to head over at 11.

Arrived to slight chaos, but eventually cleared security (unwittingly "smuggling" a liter of fizzy water through) and then joined the check-in queue. 

We started to notice a lot of "unexpected" folks -- nerds and geeks and folks with colored hair, and lots of PAX and video game shirts. So, me being me, I asked. Apparently we've stumbled across the JoCo Cruise Crazy #5, named after Jonathan Coulton -- a singer/songwriter who "specializes in songs about geek culture" (saith Wikipedia). More on that later, I'm sure. 

More amusement at check-in -- I happened to give the clerk my credit card for shipboard expenses. He then laboriously filled out a form for "WILLIAM DELANEY" to sign, and I was told to sign on the back. Umm.

But we got it sorted out, got our SeaPass cards, and headed upstairs. We fully expected to enter a big waiting room to sit until our boarding group was called… but we found ourselves in the obligatory pre-cruise photo gauntlet, and then headed up the gangplank. Nice. 

We were scanned aboard (beep!) and then we were at a complete loss as to what to do next. We went exploring first… admiring the Royal Promenade (and, um, stopping for our first pint at the Dog & Badger pub...

... giggling at the decor in the Labyrinth (googly eyes on the ravens don't quite work, but who doesn't love a gogo-dancing Yeoman Warder-ette)...

... wondering at the suitability of some of the art for a cruise ship (though, to be fair, a lot of it was super cool) ...

...and, eventually, breaking down and braving the buffet for lunch.

Then it was 1:00, so we headed to our cabin -- we had splurged on a balcony and within five minutes we knew we had made the right decision. Glorious! (Though we may have spoiled us for any future cruise, I'm afraid!) 

Later we took our first dip in the hot tubs cantilevered off the side of the ship (awesome), had the drink of the day ("Miami Melon" -- and, look, no matter how terrible it sounds, you HAVE TO DRINK THE DRINK OF THE DAY -- every day. Rituals are important.)

When we arrived back in our room, our luggage had been delivered, so we set about unpacking. Now, I love unpacking into a hotel, even if we're just going to be somewhere for 2 nights. So this is one of my favorite things about cruising.

Also attended the obligatory muster drill -- definitely lessened by the lack of orange life vests -- and that our muster station is a dining room. But whatever. 

We had our welcome reception with John and Jenny at 5:30 -- where we saw some old friends - BJ and Janet, Rick and Belinda (from Alaska), Deborah (from Peru), and of course Mila, who greeted us with a big hug. I was surprised by how big the group is -- 127 people! -- which is awesome. A lot of the cruisers are repeat offenders -- apparently, a lot of people do this cruise every year as their winter sun getaway. 

John gave us (and Brooks) a shout out, which was nice, and told everyone about the bronzed shoe. 

Ernst -- a TEN-YEAR trip veteran -- was honored with a Marathon Expeditions jacket (awww); the newcomers (not the Newcomers, ha ha) were given special attention, too. A nice get together … and not just because we had a couple of glasses of wine. 

We all marched to dinner as a group in the Macbeth dining room -- sorry, the SCOTTISH PLAY dining room -- having received special dispensation to arrive late because our meeting had to be scheduled after the late muster drill. (And we may not have been dressed appropriately, but them's the breaks…)

On this cruise, we had a block of tables, and every night we are assigned to a different one, so we get a chance to meet our fellow runners, occasionally dine with John or Jenny, and just generally mix it up. This night we were at an 8-top with Nancy and Roger, Ken and Laura, and Tom and Kathy.

When we put in our dessert orders, Roger said he wanted nothing for dessert. And he received it... IN ABUNDANCE!

After dinner we heeded up to Olive or Twist for an after-dinner drink… or two. We had a chance to talk with Tone and Dawn from Coventry, as well as Gary and Leshia, who had read our blog before they went on their Alaska cruise. Awww. 

I'm really excited about this group -- everyone seems really lovely. 

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