Thursday, March 7, 2013

Love Birds' First Cruise Recap Pt. 1: Days 1-3

I'm so excited for the enthusiasm expressed after my preview post about our first cruise! My mind has been swarming as I've been obsessing about doing the trip justice so I'm going to dive right in. This first three parts are going to be picture heavy (and FUN!) by day then I'll follow-up with nitty gritty for those of you fellow Type As who love alllllll the details . . .

There is only one word to describe our first cruise experience: 


Here's the basic info so you're oriented. . . .

Cruise Line: Royal Caribbean
Cruise Ship: Mariner of the Seas
Nights: 7
Ports Visited (in order): Roatan, Honduras; Belize City, Belize; Cozumel, Mexico

Pre-Cruising Expectations 

Royal Caribbean used to be a client of the ad agency I first worked for out of college, and I used to tell myself I'd take advantage of the employee discount but never did. At the time we were running a new ad campaign that showed the cruise line to be fun and hip, but in my mind I still thought it was something meant for the elderly. 

Additionally, being the cleanliness freak that I am I knew cruise ships had a history of illness outbreaks which was a major turn-off for me. Then there was the recent news about the Carnival mishap. The latter didn't concern me as much since after certain indsutries experience things like that it often makes the overall industry more vigilant and some argue that the best time to travel is after something like that occurs. 

Anyway, I went into the cruise mostly concerned about it not being a fit for my demographic and the cleanliness issue.

Beyond that, I knew I had the Cruise & Crop experience built into my cruise as part of my prize as well as having Mr. Love Bird there of course who is always a fail-safe plan for fun regardless of the circumstances. 

I'm a planner, but Mr. Love Bird and I both agreed we didn't want to pre-book excursions and really just see how we felt each day. I knew there would be a couple formal nights, and we brought an outfit just in case saying we'd at least go the first night and re-evaluate for the 2nd night. I also took into consideration the comments some of you left on my pre-cruise posts with great advice so thank you for that!

The social and cultural psychologist in me also has to point out that I was incredibly fascinated by the crowd dynamics aspect of cruising. With over 3,000 passengers and over 1,000 crew members the thought of organizing all of them onto a virtually floating city with everyone getting along for the most part was something I was intrigued to witness firsthand. Additionally, from a responsible tourism perspective with my first experience to the Caribbean being a 1 month stay in Jamaica in college as part of an Africana Studies course I was also interested in the socioeconomic aspect of cruising. I will touch on some of these issues in regards to what I witnessed during my trip - it left me wanting to delve deeper . . .

* A special note about photography/video*

You may have noticed in the preview post that I did not include any DSLR pics. I decided to leave it home as I didn't know exactly what to expect regarding an in-room safe, excursions and what it would be like lugging the camera around with me. All pictures and video were taken with my Galaxy S3 (which sadly cracked and I just had to pay another $130 deductible to receive another arriving today; exactly one year ago I dropped my original S3 BlackBerry Bold in the toilet (UPDATE: I later remembered this so I feel slightly better). I obviously have an issue with phones O_o)

Day 1 - Sunday, February 24

NYC>>Houston on time (welcomed by perfect weather)...
Followed by shuttle bus to port at Galveston, TX
Cloudy and cool at Galveston

We made a quick video while we awaited our dinner . . . 

{notice my brief comment about having "issues?" oh boy did it get worse; stay tuned . . .}
My first night's dinner of pork chops and grilled sweet potatoes was divine . . .
But it was just a means to an end (blueberry peach cobbler and chocolate almond cake to be exact!)
This sounded so cool...
But the weather ruined it so I watched indoors =(
I stopped by the Cruise & Crop conference room for a brief meet and greet
We hadn't slept the night before since our flight was so early so we both crashed HARD!
Day 2 - Monday, February 25

I was the dodo who thought the elevators were named O_o apparently it's easy to lose track of what day it is
Weirdos overachievers go to workout class at 7a.m. . . .
So they can indulge at breakfast
I liked being up early because it was relatively empty and quiet
Apparently shopping is a big deal at the ports so it has to be discussed beforehand...more thoughts on that to come ...
Mr. Love Bird and what turned out to be his and my favorite drink of the cruise
I had an afternoon scrapbooking class and we were given materials to make a cruise album and journal - that's the cover on the project guide on the left. I've kept a journal since I was 7 so I really appreciated this project!
Blurry but oh so sweet: Mr. Love Bird retrieved me from my scrapbooking class with an origami rose he learned to make at his own class!
We ended up buying the professional picture of us at dinner, but this was our DIY before shot
Corny but cute: I actually really looked forward to finding one of these upon returning to our room and this was the first of 3 our steward made!
Day 3 - Tuesday, February 26

Remember what I said in the video above about my "issues?" Well, they were in full force post workout and breakfast and I spent the entire day in bed. 

I have no pictures to account for this day. AT. ALL. I was laid out completely out of commission and even told Mr. Love Bird I was pretty sure I was going to have to be removed from the ship.

What I experienced most closely reminded me of going into labor. Yes, it was that bad.

I rarely ever get sick and can only remember one time in my life when I was close to being that sick and while I thought it was sea sickness (the rocking the first couple days felt so violent to me but not to Mr. Love Bird although a few veteran cruisers told me it was more rocky than normal) it may have been the norovirus we were all warned about constantly. However, I didn't have a fever or chills. There was so much hand sanitizer all around the ship including attendants constantly inspecting and reminding us to sanitize prior to entering the restaurants. I also washed my hands with hot soapy water constantly.

As an extra precaution I took a couple doses of the seasickness medicine available for free onboard but I couldn't seem to keep it down. Somehow the side-effects of drowsiness still kicked in. Or I just naturally conked out because I wanted to be put out of my misery.

Despite all this, days 1 and 2 were so fun that I wanted to power through the sickness, but I wasn't sure if I could. In my mind it was about to be a very looooong week . . .

Next up . . .

Days 4 -6