I was out of town this past week on a cruise. We went to the Bahamas. I think this was perhaps the sixth cruise I have been on. I have honestly lost count. It does not matter. It is not like we all keep track of the amount of vacations we have had in our life. So why must a person keep track of the number of cruises he or she has been on?
It started out pretty well. We left the house when we said we would and got to the cruise terminal in plenty of time. Parking was easy, as was the shuttle ride to the terminal. Check-in went more smoothly than I had expected. In no time at all we were on the boat and eating lunch. So far so good. A little while later they opened up access to our rooms, allowing us to put what bags we brought on board with us (we had the option to check baggage, that would later be delivered to our rooms) in there. We all then relaxed in the rooms for an hour or two before they called the safety drill. The safety drill is a mandatory thing all people who take a cruise must do. Essentially they say “This is where you meet when there is an emergency” and “this is how you put on a life jacket”. Yeah, okay.
Anyway, the drill ceased and we were on our way! The first day was as expected, busy but slowing down nicely. The first full day at sea on the boat was okay. It is a newer ship, but honestly, the layout was not all that great. This is especially noticeable in the casino. They have a smoking section and a non-smoking section. Several of the “fun” penny slots are in the smoking section. Sure, if you smoke, that is a good thing. I however do not. So do I wish to hang out over there with people who are imitating an old coal burning train? I think not. My personal preference. I do not mind those who do. If that is your thing, go for it. I just do not wish to be next to you while you do it.
One thing I noticed was the dining room service was not good. Normally that is the highlight of the cruise. For some reason this time it was the killer. It could be that we might of had newer people in our section, making them new to serving. I have not ruled this out. However, out of the three servers we had, only one was on top of things. It did seem he was trying to pick up their slack; a very difficult task when you are serving several tables that seat at almost identical time.
Due to the good service by one and bad service by two (I have to admit, one guy was trying to do a good job, just could not get it together), I give it a half strike. So 1.5 strikes thus far.
The next blah thing was they offered a motorcycle excursion in the handout they placed in the room. I was looking forward to this since it was the highlight of my last cruise. I tried to book it, but the interface in my stateroom did not have it available. I went down to the excursion desk and they said it was not available. I explained that it was in their handout, they stated it must have been a misprint.
BIG strike there. That was the ONLY excursion I wanted to do. The Bahamas is beautiful and I love cruising around it on a motorcycle. I was also upset that they did not offer a golf excursion. Apparently since only a handful of people book that excursion, there is no need to have a golf pro on the ship, thus not needing a golf excursion. Booo!
To top it off, I tried to book another excursion, and they cancelled it. Okay, it was not the ship’s fault. The people who ran the excursions cancelled it due to high seas/wind. That is ok, it happens. It just really stunk.
Aside from those setbacks, the cruise was really great. I enjoyed having a room with a balcony. I could sit out there, listening to the wind and the seas beat against the hull of the ship, all while reading a book. It was really relaxing. Honestly, I would have been totally happy just sitting out on that balcony and enjoying the peace and quiet. I give back the half strike for that balcony.
So only two strikes. I would do a cruise on the ship again, I just will have to think out several alternative excursions to prevent issues if one is cancelled.
On a side note, the water park on the ship was amazing. Two slides, each were a blast to ride down. I was running around like a little kid. It was really fun. Also, when you come back sweating from being outside, nothing feels better than to just hop on that water slide and make a splash when you hit the end. Sure, you could just jump in the pool, but that would not be nearly as much fun! Opposite of the water park, there is an obstacle course that sits about 20 feet up. You are in a harness and you try to negotiate the obstacles the best you can. Not a super easy feat with the wind on the sea and the boat rocking. Still, everyone had a big smile after doing the course.
There was also a great pub on the ship, I spent some time there during the cruise. It had a very nice atmosphere. Now do not go and think the cruise was a bust, it was not. It was good. It just did not work out the way I hoped it would have. That is life and I have accepted it. Other than the few small issues, it was a good vacation. It was a bit long though, 7-days. I do not mind long vacations, I just think I tend to do better when I am not confined to a ship.
One item that did make the last full day of the cruise excellent was the soccer tournament they had on the boat. They closed off the basketball court (which is enclosed completely by a big net) and moved some small goals out. It is like a soccer game on crack. I always bring my soccer shorts on a cruise to work out in. Luckily for me, I did wear my indoor soccer shoes on the ship. Talk about being excited, I had not played a soccer game in over 10 years. I was having a blast out there, and my team won the most games. However, the winners were determined by the total number of goals, not game wins. I had the most goals on my team, but we still lost. Oh well!
There was one downfall to the soccer tournament. Injuries. I got bumped pretty good while trying to advance the ball past mid-court. It was perfectly legal contact, I just fell backwards. My left hand struck the ground pretty hard, but I got up and played on. Later I found out that I sprained my wrist. It took 4 days to fully recover from that.
I also noticed a blister forming on my left foot. I could not tell exactly where it was at, but it felt like it was right around the ball of my foot. That was during game 2 of 4. By the time we hit game four, I was having a very hard time cutting to my right. I started playing right midfield/forward because I could not cut to the right hardly at all. Due to compensating for my lack of a left foot for changing directions, I started using my right foot more. By the end of the fourth game, I noticed my right foot starting to hurt in the same general area as my left. Normally I would not have that foot issue if I played on a full pitch. It turns out that it was more than a blister, it was a complete skin tear. My left foot had about a 2-inch skin tear due to friction. My right foot fared better with only a 1-inch tear. Still, it was worth it!
The problem was caused by a lack of space, resulting in a crazy fast play speed. My educated guess is that we averaged 10 seconds of ball possession before a goal or the other team won it and moved back to the other side of the court. Back and fourth, back and fourth, over and over again. Very quick and very tiring. It was like we were in a permanent sprint for the 5-minute long game.
Sure, you may think 5-minute long games is not tough. The competitive nature of all of us out there had us pushing hard and fast and often. It was relentless and it was painful at times. It also pushed me far beyond anything I have done in recent memory. However it was pure and insane fun. I was exhausted after the games, but I would not trade it for anything. It made the entire cruise worth it. My work schedule prevents me from participating in cycling events and anything else that I am interested in. My wife even thinks I should participate in a adult soccer league in the area. I’ll keep on the lookout for a local league that can work with my schedule, until then, I will just keep doing my solo cycling and my soccer training workout.
Keep sweating away my friends. The hard work is worth it.