Monday, March 08, 2004

Cruising the Bahamas, Disney-style

I'm afraid I didn't have much internet access from the ship, but I did have a computer which I wrote my blogs on. So here they all are in one big upload.

Seattle (Friday, 27 February)

So Scott and I head down to Seattle to visit Jeff, who's putting me up for the night, as my flight leaves SeaTac at nine in the morning Saturday. Scott is, as is his custom, late getting on the bus. But he does make it, and brings cookies, so all is forgiven. We get to Seattle, a wee touch early, and Jeff and Nicole pick us up at the station. As we wait, Scott heads to the bathroom, but as it turns out, the dude whose job it is to unlock the bathrooms is asleep in the staffroom. And front desk guy has to finish dealing with the hordes (us and maybe two others) so he can't go wake up bathroom guy. Anyhoo, eventually they pick us up and we head to the restaurant. Which, after waiting an hour and a half for our food, and watching numerous kitchen fires occur in this timespan, I'm no longer convinced this is so much a restaurant as it is a bar hiding behind a restaurant licence. This is belief is fortified when they get all our meals wrong. Not an easy feat..I ordered cheese and crackers! Nicole had the daily special - Pear and Walnut salad. They forgot the pears and walnuts. When she pointed out that her Pear and Walnut salad was in fact just lettuce, the waitress brought out two small bowls of the title ingredients, and she assembled her own salad.

Orlando (Saturday, 28 February)

Hour and a half line up for security at Sea-Tac...I was at the airport 2 hours early, and only just got to my gate barely before boarding began. Apparently, booking a flight two weeks before you head out is considered last minute...or at least that's the only reason I can figure they selected me for a thorough search. Not that it was all that thorough. Meh, whatever...after spending an hour and a half waiting to get my bag x-rayed, I wasn't really in the mood for another hour of real interrogation. Changed flights in Pittsbugh...even though my plane landed 1/2 hour early, I only just made boarding on my connection...lordy, the east coast airports are huge. Thank goodness my flight wasn't late...and shouldn't my travel agent have maybe told me I wouldn't have had enough time to make the connection had my plane been on time? Made it into Florida with few problems in the end. Well, I did have a seat-kicker behind me and a whole-trip recliner in front of me for part of it, but nothing big. Not quite as bad as the woman who had the airline lose all her checked baggage...then realized that her carry-on suitcase was picked up by a shuttle driver from another hotel when she wasn't looking. Oops. By comparison, my trip was a dream.

Mickey Sailing Day One - Steamboat Mickey sets sail (Sunday, 29 February) on embarking the ship, I got scooted past the whole lineup and told to go ahead and get right on. I *love* sailing with the crew. I also got to hang out in the officer's mess, meet lots of sailors, and drink cappuccino on the bridge. Definitely the only way to travel. Now I'm off to check out the sail-away party. I have it on good authority that Pluto will be there.
So the Mickey dance team comes out, and I swear, Britney Spears stole all her moves from when she was in the mouseketeers. Still haven't met Pluto. I now have a mission for my cruise.

Mickey Sailing Day Two - In port at Nassau, Bahamas (Monday, 1 March)

Last night was rough...really rough. Waves 4m high, ship rocking side to side...couldn't walk straight down the corridor without hitting both walls. Made it through without getting sick. A small miracle, really. Apparently it was the worst they've seen in a while, so the rest of the cruise should be good. I ended up going to bed at 2030 figuring it better to lose an evening than be sick the rest of the cruise. And Haunted Mansion was playing on TV anyways (really, not worth the price of a rental). Anyhoo, today we're in port at Nassau. Not great beaching weather, but anna's friend Vincent works on another cruise ship and we've been invited to join him for lunch. I'm ship-hopping!
Ferry-side cream by the dock...lost city of Atlantis aquarium (with tattooed fish!)...a good Bahamian day. Kind of windy, but warm and sunny nonetheless.

Update: Have managed to track down Donald. Pluto still at large.

Mickey Sailing Day Three - Disney Island (Castaway Cay) (Tuesday, 2 March)

Small rainstorm and clouds broken by a few scorchingly hot seconds of sun. Did not stop anna from getting a nice burn across her whole face. This afternoon looks like it will turn out better, but I may be alone on the beach as anna is now sun-phobic.

Met a little crab on the beach (Crabby)...digging away at a little hole in the sand. You wouldn't think, but that entertained me for a good hour and a half!

So anna's view on her last week at work? "What are they going to do, fire me?" She has decided that after Thursday, the last day they could deport her off the ship outside of stranding her on a deserted island, she will become a rebel. What will this entail, I ask? Why, she'll...she'll...she'll wear *black* socks, that's what. Not white! Mwa-hah-hah!

Update: Have found Pluto! My hunt was successful.
Having forgotten to bring my moisturizer, I of course nicked the free sampler provided at the hotel in Orlando. Having just spent my day in sand, sun and salt water, I decided to moisturize. Slathering it on, I think "that's a familiar smell...what is it?" Then it comes to me. Fluoride. I'm walking around in eau de dentiste. Splendid.
Got dressed up in nurse's uniform and given a nametag (I'm now Colin) and taken up to the bridge for a night viewing. Definitely a no-no for any non-officer, ergo the Colin-outfit. The First Officer refused me his supposedly world-reknowned Cher song and dance routine, though he did pop in an SotW CD, which definitely puts him in my good books. That, and the awesome cappuccino.

Mickey Sailing Day Four - Day A'Sea (Wednesday, 3 March)

Lots and lots of lounging around today. Lying in the sun, reading, and eating junk food. Have been eating terribly this whole trip. Hot dogs, nachos, I had ice cream for dinner. What's the point of a Disney cruise if you're going to eat like an adult? I mean, I did try...I had scrambled eggs for breakfast. And what did it get me? An allergic reaction! Who puts seafood in their morning eggs, I ask you? Back to the bacon and doughnuts for me!

Have managed to come down with a cold, too. Disney brings the kids, and with them, the germs. And so I am now stuffy and sniffly. Thank goodness for the NyQuil family of drugs.

Mmmm...Pixie Dust.

Mickey Sailing Day Five - Disembarkation/ReEmbarkation (Thursday, 4 March)

Had to get up for a 5:45 immigration thing this morning (entering US from Bahamas). Woke up from a drug-induced sleep to anna telling me "I turned off the alarm in my sleep. You have to be at immigration NOW!" Well, I scramble into clothes, rush upstairs, wait 1/2 hour in line, and get my pretty stamp. Then I come back downstairs to sleep. There's really nothing else to do today, as the ship is essentially closed. First cruise passengers disembarked by 9, and the second set isn't allowed on until 12. I could go explore the port,'s a port. We're an hour's drive from the city. I must find some way to entertain myself.

So, the other day I'm sitting up on the deck, pretty much alone as it's early evening...just before sunset...and kind of cool and windy. Not really sunbathing weather. So I'm sitting there reading my book, when this woman comes by singing to herself. Then she starts poking around in the bins. At first, I think nothing of this; coming from Vancouver and spending many years at UBC, this does not seem an odd sight to me at all. Until I process the fact that there are probably rarely homeless people on a cruise. Later I discover that this, too, is for the comfort of the passengers. You see, Disney recycles. But I was unable to find any pop-can recycling bins around. Asking where they were, I was told you throw your cans in the garbage. Someone then comes around and digs them out to recycle. There is something very, very wrong with that. I don't think Walt would approve.

Mickey Sailing Day Six - Nassau Part the Second (Friday, 5 March)

Started off the day with a mad scramble...last minute booking on to the snorkling excursion. Headed 45min out to sea (well, towards another island) on a catamaran and then swam with the fishies. Did not manage to find Nemo, but I was surrounded by a school of fish that befriended me and followed me around. Saw some very cool fish and coral...tatoo fish, angel fish, rainbow fish, brain-shaped coral, Dories (can you tell I don't know the real names of almost any of these?).

Then came back to my cabin and got to play cinderella. One of the previous nurses here hurt her back and left a pair of brand-new-but-too-high-heeled shoes behind. Being that she had big feet, they didn't fit anybody else. I, however, waltzed in here in my size 10s, and the glass slipper fit! I got me a pair of pretty new shoes :) Now where's that Prince Charming?
Got a tour of the Engine Room. Very cool...well, quite the opposite, it was bloody hot. But it was definitely neat to see all the engines and doohickeys that run the ship.

Mickey Sailing Day Seven - Castaway Cay Revisited (Saturday, 6 March)

My last day here! Anna had to work today, so I meandered over to the island by myself. As I'm not really up for beaching on my own, I went for a 1 1/2h walk around Disney Isle. Pretty standard...palms, bushes, trail...but it was nice to stretch my legs out a bit. Then I came back to the ship and discovered that when everybody else is on the island, the ship pool suddenly becomes a very attractive prospect. Me and about half a dozen others spent the afternoon lazing by the pool. Now I must go pack up and get ready to leave.

For a final send off, the bridge officers entertained us today. I not only got to hear the first officer sing, I also got accompanying back up dancing from the third officer, and even got to hear a Finnish rooster impersonation! Oooh! *And* I got to press important buttons on the ship. I got to acknowledge something - not really sure what...another ship in the waters, I think - but that's not important. I got to press buttons on the bridge!

The Return Home (Sunday, 7 March)

Mostly uneventful, overall. Got up at 5:45 (EST) for the customs/immigration thing...said goodbyes all around, left the boat at 8:30. Much travelling later, made home by 2:30 (PST) Monday morning (that's 23h45m later, for those keeping track). I was dizzy with exhaustion by this point, but otherwise not too bad. Well, until I got to Central Station here, that is. Being 2:15 in the morning, the station was locked. This itself was not surprising. What was, however, was the fact that all egress from the bus parking lot at the back (where the Greyhound stopped) was blocked, and someone had to break open a gate to get us to out in front of the station. And it was raining. And there were no cabs. And no payphone. And my cellphone had one itty bitty bar of battery left. Just enough, happily, to call the taxi dispatch (who seemed shocked to hear there were no shocked, apparently, she thought to send me 5!).

And that, folks, is the end of my tales from the Bahamas.