I'm back from the cruise, and if you've never been on one, you must try it at least once. For the lovely service if nothing else. Where else can you go that has people tripping over each other to grant your every wish? Our room was cleaned/straightened three times a day by a friendly Phillopino man, Arman, who created towel animals each night and left them on our beds. A comedian on the ship predicted that we'd take two pictures of the sunset and seven of our linens. He was right - only I missed the sunsets because I was either at dinner or at a show. I am a horrible picture taker, considering I once was a "professional photographer." I dread the loading on a computer or developing process because I know I'll never put the photos in an album, let alone a scrapbook.
A cruise is really a haven for hedonists when it comes down to it. All the food you can eat, and it is GOOD, liquor (pricey, but flowing from every tap and comes delivered on trays cocktail-party-style 'round the clock), an all day and night gambling casino and a dedicated cigar bar. If you're just a girl who can't say no, you could run into a lot of trouble!
My son and I went with a group of 48 from the high school - seniors and their parents. The kids had a heyday exploring the ship and islands, avoiding their parents like roaches running from sunlight. Who could blame them when given this new-found adult freedom on a ship with 11 decks to hide? Well, I could. I really meant for this trip to be a special memory for my college-bound son and me. Something he could look back on as we grew older with a misty eye and a lump in his throat. I did see him across the room at dinner time and even sat with him twice. Made me yearn for the old days when he was lashed to my back in a pouch and I always knew where he was. Although, back then, I was probably yearning for the days he'd be able to get along independently without any assistance. Why can't we mothers ever be satisfied?
Luckily, my friend Joanne and I and the rest of the adults spent quality time together. We explored the nearby shops on the islands and loaded up with souvenirs and tequila. Amazingly, there's more than José Cuervo in Mexico. I had to sample several different kinds to determine good quality, and the shops were willing to comply. Imagine going into a liquor store at home and getting samples! There would be standing room only!
Revelations from the trip:
1. Be prepared. I didn't read any of the material about the trip or excursions until I was on the first flight. I really had no time for the research, and missed out on some exploration due to lack of knowledge. I hate getting ripped off, so I played it too safe.
2. Lay down ground rules with your kid before you embark the boat. I thought I did, but evidently they didn't register. Alternatives - an imbedded GPS system. Cell phones didn't work on the ship.
3. Make sure the travel company, or yourself, plans the flight route. There is no earthly reason to have taken a flight north to Detroit, then one to Ft. Lauderdale for a ship departing from Miami! We almost missed the boat. Literally, we were the last ones on the boat due to flight delays!
4. Resorty areas like Cozumel are stocked with bi-lingual Mexicans. I heard more English in those stores than I do back home in our Mexican stores! My español was useless. I need to travel inland next time.
5. Bring sea-sickness medicine with you. That first day was awful. Not a great way to lose weight.
6. Ask questions about the spa treatments before you plunk down your money. The detox red algae treatment was nothing like I imagined. Instead of getting a relaxing massage and toning treatment, I was rubbed with goo, and had 4.5 inches electroshocked away from my belly. Think labor contractions and you've got the picture. Hey, but it was an experience I'll never forget!
7. Don't zipline if you're afraid of heights or falling. I loved it, but once you're there, there's no going back.
8. Use sunscreen. Lots of it, or your face will be unrecognizable to even you.
9. Find a peaceful place to get away when you need to.
10. Go for the desserts every night. It's vacation! My favorite - chocolate melting cake :)