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Recapping our cruise: The good, the bad, and the ugly

We’re back after a relaxing weekend at sea, but I have to say, after experiencing it? I don’t know if cruises are for me. It could be that we just had a bad experience with Royal Caribbean, but for a number of reasons, I can’t say I’ll ever do another cruise. Here’s the rundown of our weekend.

The Good

Cruising was definitely affordable. If you’re able to drive to your departure port and avoid the “extras” on the ship like alcohol, the total cost of the trip will like be much less than if you flew to a destination, booked a hotel, and paid for food separately.

For the most part, the rooms were comfortable if a little small. But it’s really true what they say about your room on a cruise ship — you spend very little time there. Even though we spent an above average amount of time trapped on the ship, we didn’t spend the time in our room. We were on the deck looking out at the water or reading.

Being at sea surrounded by nothing but deep blue ocean and sky was amazing. My favorite part of the trip was watching the sunset from the deck on our final night at sea. We went parasailing on our first day off the boat, which was definitely a worthwhile experience.

I also found it easier to relax on a cruise ship than I have any other vacation. Perhaps it’s because everything is taken care of for you, but I didn’t feel the urgency to go-go-go that I normally do while traveling. I read an entire book, which is unheard of for me on vacation. I never take the time to read while traveling unless it’s on a flight, and even then I’m usually too excited to really focus.

Since this trip was meant to be a chance for us to relax and recharge, that part of it was great. We mostly just read, slept, and ate, and I really enjoyed the relaxation. It was just what we needed.

The Bad

Honestly? I wasn’t at all impressed with the ship’s activities. Aside from drinking at the bars (expensive) and gambling in the casino (also expensive, and boring in my opinion), there was very little to do. We’re admittedly pretty anti-social when it comes to group activities, and after catching part of the ship’s comedy act on the closed circuit television, we decided to skip that, too.

Our second port of call ended up being cancelled due to high winds. They were unable to shuttle us safely from the ship to shore, so we spent our last day at sea. The ship definitely felt claustrophobic on that final day. I was frustrated and angry that we were stuck there when I’d been looking forward to getting off the ship and exploring the island — especially since our three-day cruise only included two ports of call.

For the record, the Royal Caribbean crew and staff of the ship was pretty rude about the cancellation. Their attitude seemed to be, “We just canceled half your vacation, but that’s not our problem. Spend more money at the bar! kthnx.”

I would have rather been off the ship in another country exploring rather than feeling trapped surrounded by other American tourists. It ended up being okay for us since it kind of forced us to relax for the day, but it was still a bummer. I felt stuck on the ship.

The Ugly

I debated whether I should share my feeling on this subject, but I’ve decided to give an accurate depiction of our experience. And honestly, I found the cruise culture to be a little disturbing. It was extremely strange to me to be surrounded by so much excess. Excessive food, excessive alcohol, and excessive spending.

I really don’t want to get on a soapbox here, and believe me, it’s not like we didn’t overindulge on the cruise. We ate way too much, probably drank too much (mostly because we felt like there was little else to do), and spent too much in the process. But on future vacations, I think I’d rather avoid that kind of temptation. It’s hard to resist eating and drinking too much when food and alcohol are literally every. where.

I think our biggest problem was our choice of destination. The only place we stopped was Nassau, Bahamas, which was a pretty bleak place. The entire city seemed to center on tourism, which honestly just isn’t my style when it comes to travel. I want to explore another culture and experience another city. I didn’t like being surrounded by other tourists and people seeking to cater to tourists. As Tony said, the part of the Bahamas that we saw was a lot like the beaches of North Carolina during the heavy tourist season.

By the end of the trip, when this towel animal appeared on our bed, I was ready to get home to Howie.

The Conclusion

I can definitely see the appeal of cruising, and I think it would be a good vacation idea for a family (as long as you pick a better destination than the Bahamas). If you’re someone who enjoys complete relaxation on vacation, you’d probably really enjoy a cruise to a tropical island. If you’d rather do and see more, I’d recommend choosing a destination with more to do and see than a tropical island.

It’s also possible that I just had kind of a crummy experience for our first cruise. For another perspective, read about Kacie’s cruise to Alaska. From what she’s told me, it seems like an entirely different experience than our cruise to the Bahamas with more interesting sights and experiences.

I definitely can’t wait to see how this experience differs from our trip to Europe in two months. The two trips couldn’t be more different, and I’m thinking the freedom of Europe will suit us a little better.

Have you ever been on a cruise? What was your experience like?

Feels like home

This year, my Valentine’s Day gift came a day early. We woke up to six inches of snow on the ground in our typically temperate beach town. It’s nothing compared to what we used to get in Indiana — or what the upper East Coast is currently digging out of — but we enjoyed a little piece of home on Saturday.

I’ve missed it.

Pixar & pain killers

I made it through the surgery just fine, and as all of you predicted it wasn’t nearly as bad as I thought it would be. I can’t thank you enough for sharing your experiences with me. The scariest part was not knowing what I was getting myself into, so your encouragement and advice helped calm my nerves more than I can even express.

I’m swollen and sore, but I’m content because I’m all cuddled up with a very concerned Howie, and Tony has canceled classes today to take care of me. A Pixar movie marathon and lots of pain meds are the only thing on my agenda.

Happy Friday to all of you, and eat something delicious tonight for me! It’s nothing but applesauce and ice cream for me for the next couple days. :)

Christmas through the lens of my point-and-shoot camera

Unfortunately, my camera didn’t return to me until yesterday afternoon, so I shot Christmas through my AA-battery-powered point-and-shoot camera. I was dying to take photos, though, so I’m thankful I had it (even if finding batteries for it was a last minute struggle that took over an hour).

We spent the weekend drinking cocktails, watching movies, eating too much chocolate and playing Beatles Rock Band. Just as I anticipated, it was heaven. However, I’m not looking forward to my not-so-triumphant return to the gym tomorrow (or today if I can actually force myself to get up and go).

Click on the unfortunate family photo below to see our Christmas slideshow. You should know that this poorly timed family photo was not taken for lack of trying to get a good shot. However, when it comes to photographing animals, you’re largely at their mercy. Getting Howie to sit still and look at the camera as we sat on the floor next to him was impossible. We finally bribed him with treats, but the result was just photos of a dog staring at the floor.

And now back to the real world. Sigh. I’m counting down the days to the New Year.