Thursday, February 17, 2011

Sis Boom Bah

I haven’t written in this thing in over a week.  I was testing out the volume of complaints.  There weren’t any.  Someone did tell me I needed to tell the whole story.  I don’t like talking about other people in my stories because of accidental trouble which it may cause.  I’m going to try to tell mostly the whole story without incriminating anyone.

As many of you know, I went on a cruise to the Bahamas over the weekend.  I actually left last Thursday morning and arrived home Monday evening (for the detail minded folks).

They should allow a different font for useless details.  It would make reading blogs a lot easier.  Of course, there may be several blogs that wouldn’t even get read that way.

My cruise to the Bahamas left out of Jacksonville, Florida.  I had enough “SkyMiles” with Delta that my flight was free.  Delta is affiliated with Alitalia (the Italian airline) so I had lots of miles.  However, Delta goes through Atlanta and Carnival recommends you book your flights to arrive before noon.  My flight was scheduled to leave Dallas at 5:45.

I was up at 3:15 and had a cab reserved to pick me up at 4.  Yellowcab in Dallas is officially on my sh*t list.  I reserved the cab Wednesday evening.  I called at 3:45 Thursday morning and was told that one hadn’t been allotted yet.  Whatever that means.  At 4, this cab driver called and said, “I just got a request to pick you up and I’m about 25 minutes away.”  He proceeded to quiz me on my promise that I’d wait on him if he continued his drive to my house.  I declined the offer to make promises and secured other arrangements.

Everything went well up until the flight from Atlanta to Jacksonville.  The attendant kept saying that the flight was going to be “very full”.  I had to harass him mercilessly.  How can something be “very full”; it’s either full or not.  It can be almost full.  It can even be nearly full.  But how can it be very full?  He was persistent though that the flight was very full.  They still let me on to sit down and occupy space on the very full plane.

The only cruises I’ve taken up until now have been out of Galveston.  For some reason the embarkation process in Jacksonville is much simpler than the embarkation process out of Galveston.  About the same sized ship.  About the same number of people.  I have no idea why the difference.  I’ve spent over an hour trying to get through the embarkation process in Galveston.  I think it may have taken 10 minutes in Jacksonville.

 image In fact, I got onboard so fast that my room wasn’t ready yet.  This encouraged me to go sit out on the Lido deck where my Serbian bartender, Sanja, proceeded to fill my cup with the drink of the day.  Then Eka came by and got me a 4 pack of beer for $2 off.  Ignore my sunglasses.  I don’t know why they weren’t covering my eyes.  Maybe someone hot was taking the picture and I needed a better view?  I also don’t know why I wasn’t offered a picture with Sanja.  She was much better looking than Eka.  By the time the beer was gone, the room was ready.

When the room was ready (at 2 PM), I had already been up for almost 12 hours.  Jacksonville is an hour ahead.  My partying, happy, motivational energy reserves were already starting to dwindle.  I had to be at dinner at 6.

For dinner I had a table with Lisa, Terry and Cathy.  Interestingly enough, Lisa’s birthday was the 11th, mine was the 14th, and Cathy’s was on the 15th.  Three Aquarians and one Cancer all at the same table.  All I remember was a heated discussion about football and trying to utilize enough of my meager football knowledge to fan the flames.  Because that’s what I do.  I fan.  The flames.

On Friday we were in Freeport.  Since it was Lisa’s birthday I agreed to show her around Freeport.  I had obviously never been there before, so I just found the first little rundown BahamaBar I could find and made friends with the Bartenders.  It was the best day of the cruise.  I dubbed my bartender the Queen of the Bahamas and she was quite proud of her title (she’s the one with the camera – she wouldn’t let me take a picture so I had to sneak it).  They turned up the stereo and did happy birthday wishes.  It was called Seaman’s Rest which I thought was an odd name for a bar, but funny in more ways than not.

When we left the bar, I saw this sign in the middle of the grass.  I also found the sign rather amusing.  I don’t know that it is quite as amusing now, but it might be.  It said, “Stay on pavement.  Avoid uneven surface.”  Was it a warning for the bar patrons?  Was it a warning for old people with their walkers?  Now I kind of wished I would have walked across it.  I probably would have broken an ankle.    Why do I obey signs?  I think it’s a curse.

Interestingly, once back onboard the ship, the entire “Lido Deck” had turned into a party zone.  At one point I was innocently sitting at the bar when I decided to go procure a towel.  I left to go get a towel and when I got back there were shots sitting at the bar purchased by someone calling himself one of the five.  There were women in bikinis playing motorboat games.  I decided right then and there that I should have left to procure the towel hours ago.  I was allowed to take pictures, but I’m not comfortable posting them.  I’ll post a couple of the more innocent ones.  Here you can see one of the five brothers ordering two players to drink their shots…
And in this next photo you can see one of the players in action along with one of the five with a sh*t eating encouraging grin.  I might have to put a paypal link for people wanting to see the other photos.  There might be serious money in this.  This is just a small taste of the insanity on the Lido deck on day 2 of the cruise.
And all because I took the time to go get a towel.  It’s like they missed me and were trying to get me to come back.

Day 3 was in Nassau.  It wasn’t nearly as much fun as Day 2.  When we first left, Nassau was supposed to be sunny and 80 degrees.  I think some front came in faster or slower than expected and it turned cloudy and windy.  It still may have hit 72, but I’m not sure.  I just roamed around mindlessly for a bit, had lunch, and went back to the ship.

I did manage to grab a picture of the local McDonald’s.  It’s become something I do.  I don’t know why.  It started in Milan because I thought that McDonald’s had such a unique location.

Day 4 was a “fun day at sea”.  When you sail out of Galveston you always get two days at sea.  From Jacksonville there was only one.  I enjoy the days at sea which is why I’m thinking of taking a 16 day Transatlantic cruise in October.  That’ll be a lot of days at sea.

I met Noel on Day 4.  He and I shared the same birthday.  Both of us being unfortunate enough to be born on Valentine’s day.  I harassed him a bit about being born on Valentine’s day and being named after Christmas.  He said at least he wasn’t Valentino which is what my dad wanted to name me as well so I could see his point.  But then Val might be cooler than Gar.

The debarkation process in Jacksonville is another mystery that must be solved.  When I debark in Galveston, there are about 2000 passengers, 10 department of homeland security officers to check documents and welcome you back in the USA and it takes about 2 hours minimum.

When I debarked in Jacksonville, there were about 2000 passengers, 2 department of homeland security officers to gather the claims documents and it took about 5 minutes.  I kid you not.  I’m still curious how this level of efficiency missed Galveston.

It may have been because it was my birthday.  Maybe that was a gift to me because I was dreading standing in the torturous line of getting my passport and claim form checked.

I ended up having to stay at the Jacksonville airport for 8 hours because of their efficiency (I booked my flight at 5 because of the SkyMiles bit and to allow enough time to get off the boat).  But, I found a little bar and had some breakfast, some lunch and some birthday beer.  A guy down the bar from me shared the same birthday so we discussed how we celebrate our birthdays on the 14th and Valentine’s day on the 15th.  This has the added bonus of allowing us to buy clearance items on the evening of the 14th for those special gluttons for punishment in our lives.

1 comment:

  1. Geez, I can't believe I have to explain to you why getting on and off a boat was way more efficient in Jacksonville than Galveston. Jacksonville is in Florida. Galveston is in Texas.