Okay so I promised that the next post would be about the cruise so here we go...
On Monday, I got up and straightened my hair. Eventually Nick got up and he packed his stuff then we were ready to go on vacation! We did a quick run to Publix for a couple of things and got lunch at Quiznos before driving to Port Canaveral. We decided to park at Park'n'Cruise rather than the actual official parking lot which meant it only cost me $30 for 4 days instead of $75 (win!)... it's one junction earlier than the cruise terminals off the main road, we just drove in there, took the bags out and parked the car. Paid and then got on the shuttle bus with our bags and about 10 minutes later we were ready to check in. When we got off the shuttle, the cruise staff took our bags with the relevant tags on and they arrived at our cabin an hour or two later on. We went into 'customs' and our hand luggage went through an x-ray machine... really they were just checking for alcohol they could confiscate. We headed upstairs where apparently we were "gold members" (they thought we'd cruised before when actually it was just because I'd used a coupon code which had dropped into our postbox from a previous housemate of my apartment as they had cruised before...LOL) and meant we skipped the entire queue waiting to check in. We were on the Monarch of the Seas in a matter of minutes, and our stateroom was ready as well so we just went straight there to check it out!
It really wasn't as small as I expected it to be and our window was bigger than I thought it would be too! I'm glad we went for the window option... it was nice to be able to see outside all the time and I think an inside cabin would have been too claustrophobic! The bathroom was really tiny though! Once we'd checked out the cabin, we headed up to the pool deck and walked around there exploring... before finding the bar at the top of the ship on Deck 13 and getting our first cocktails there! At 3.45pm we had our Muster Drill which just meant we had to walk to our emergency station (where our lifeboat was) and be counted, stand in lines for a few minutes and then eventually get dismissed at about 4.00pm. We wondered around again and at about 4.40pm we set sail!!
We watched Port Canaveral disappear into the distance before going back up to the top pool deck to get another round of cocktails in :D (see a theme appearing here?) We explored the ship a little more after this before heading back to the room to see if our luggage had arrived which it had. We unpacked and had showers to get ready for dinner for which our seating was at 8.30pm. We headed down there at about 8pm and joined the line of people waiting to go into the dining room (it was actually the only line for dinner we stood in for the whole cruise in the end). We went in and we'd been sat on a table which actually would have sat 10 people but it was never full - in fact, I don't think the ship was at capacity either because it definitely didn't seem busy enough. On the first night there was 3 other couples at the table besides Nick and I... a couple to the right of me who were quite hilarious in the end but we didn't see on the last night... a couple on Nick's left who were at the table every night (we chatted to them quite a bit in the end) and a couple opposite us who were quite odd... there was definitely an age gap of at least 15 years involved and they ordered Long Island Ice Teas (to the tune of $20 per round FYI), ate appetisers and entrees before abruptly leaving the table (and their almost full drinks) and we never saw them again...! Bit odd!
I am struggling to remember what I had to eat on the first night (might be something to do with the bottle of Cava we drank...!) but I know it was really yummy! After dinner, we went up to the front of the ship and sat out feeling the wind (!!) before Nick got some pizza. Seriously - all we did was EAT for 4 days!! I wanted a whippy ice cream on the way back to the cabin and this is where we encountered Ice Cream Man. This man tried to tell Nick how to operate the whippy machine (this did NOT go down well!) and he was rather annoying so we joked about him on the way back to the cabin... (more on him later!)
The second day (Tuesday) was our day at CocoCay - Royal Caribbean's private island. They docked at 8am and we wanted to be off the ship pretty early to avoid the crowds so we ordered breakfast room service and were on the tender ship by 8.30am (impressive for us). It was very overcast - with a very weak sun behind the clouds so we just found a quiet bit of beach and laid around napping really. At about 11.15am I wanted to go and find the hammocks because the weather still hadn't improved (it actually spitted with rain a couple of times!) so we played around in the hammocks for a bit before going to see when lunch was going to be. We sat around on the main beach for a while because the sun was trying to come out and as there was no wind, it got really hot around that side of the island. I noticed people eating so we got up to get food - they did a nice BBQ with hot dogs, burgers, salad, pasta and a few desserts including rum cake. We also got a couple of Coco Loco's! These are cocktails with unknown ingredients but it definitely involved pineapple and coconut as well as a generous helping of RUM! They were only $8.75 so not bad. We decided to walk back to the quiet windy beach to go in the sea... well in true Florida/Caribbean style, there were a few drops of rain on the way back to the beach and then suddenly it was a downpour! We ran into the sea (cocktail in one hand, waterproof camera in the other!) and it was very strange being in the sea in the rain! Once we got out about 5 minutes later, it was thundering as well so we were soaked, covered in sand and trying to carry everything without dropping anything on the beach we tried to find shelter (failed) and eventually decided to go back to the ship to shower and get changed. So obviously everyone was trying to get back as it was raining and storming but it didn't take too long. On the tender boat, we were sitting two rows behind... Ice Cream Man!! And he literally didn't shut up the entire journey about himself! He was talking to the man sitting in front of me and this poor guy couldn't get a word in edgeways... the best part was that when we all got up to get off the boat, EVERYONE was laughing at how annoying this man was - so Nick's judgement was totally right!
We got back to the ship and had a good shower before getting dressed and heading up to the deck to sit out and relax. That night was formal night so I wanted to get ready with lots of time, I washed and dried my hair and then straightened it (literally one of the banes of my life) and then I got ready. We looked pretty dapper by the time we went to the dining room I think! We got a bottle of white with dinner (I had a curry, it was amazing! I also had scallops, a caesar salad and then I think I got key lime pie for dinner... all the food merges into one!) Another amusing moment happened when they had these random violinists going around the dining room playing dittys like Happy Birthday... well, they came to the table next to us and played My Heart Will Go On from Titanic - LOLLLL. Not the most appropriate music for a cruise ship! After dinner, we went to the Schooner Bar (our favourite after dinner hang out) and had another bottle of wine (yeah...) and a really good chat, I enjoyed it. We went up to deck for a bit (standard) and then crashed out as the next day was Nassau....
So, Wednesday the ship docked at Nassau at 8am but we slept in. That was the day they decided to do all the crew emergency drills in the morning so we were woken up by announcements into the cabin which was a bit annoying! We had a late breakfast at about 11am and then got off the ship to go into Nassau. I was a little wary about it because people had told me it was rough and people bugged you all the time, offered you drugs etc. However, I didn't see any of this and had quite a pleasant experience really. We wondered around all the designer shops and the straw market where I bought a bracelet and Nick bought a wooden clock (it was very nautical). We got a Starbucks and mid-afternoon decided to go back to the ship for a snack. We ended up staying on the ship because we just wanted to laze around (this was definitely a relaxing holiday not an action-packed one!) but we actually resisted alcohol this time! We went into the casino and wasted a few $$ on the slot machines and wondered around the shops onboard. We got ready for dinner and this time we had a bottle of red :D Yes, I actually voluntarily drank red wine! I had a calzone thing for my entree, scallops again for starter I think and then I don't remember the dessert. We went to the Schooner Bar afterwards again and got a bottle of Rose but we only drank half of it so we took the rest back to the cabin (I had it before dinner the next day!). We then headed up to the deck to watch the ship pull out of Nassau and into the dark dark night!
Thursday was our day at sea! Our plan was to get up, have breakfast, find sunloungers and TAN. However, this plan was slightly scuppered when we got to breakfast, looked out of the window and saw RAIN. We had breakfast and then still went to get sunloungers, via the towel stand - we got enough towels to put over our heads as well! It actually began properly raining! We stuck it out though and after the rain had cleared it actually got SUNNY!! For all of about 3 hours so we sunbathed, watched the Belly Flop Competition (big LOL) and chilled out. I was well aware at this point how expensive my bar tab was becoming so we didn't drink...! Well, that was until the wine class we'd signed up for at 3pm! We got to try four wines from an area of Bordeaux in France (I was definitely in the minority having actually visited it!) and we got a bit full on wine and cheese, fabulous. We had an afternoon snack before going back to the cabin to chill out, pack and I washed my hair again before preceeding to curl it (again, a long process - it was weird having the time on my hands to make this effort!) and get ready for our final dinner in the dining room. We went to the Schooners Bar for a cocktail before dinner and then went in... I had pasta for my entree this time and an amazing chocolate pudding which was soooo good. We didn't have wine with dinner this time - I stuck to my peach schnapps and sprite :P After dinner we went to the deck for the final time and watched a lightening storm from a distance. It was so peaceful up there, I loved it. Eventually we had to retire to the cabin as we had a super early morning the next day :(
On Friday it was the day to leave the ship - really didn't want to! We got up at 6.30am and we'd already docked at Port Canaveral. Our bar bill arrived to the tune of almost $400! Oopss!!!! We got breakfast in the dining room and were on a table of four with two ladies (one of whom had spent a few years working at Disney so we chatted about that) and then we went back to the cabin to get our final few things before going to our designated waiting area. That was kinda boring because we just sat around for an hour and then got into a line. On the up-side we got our phone signal back so I played on my phone. Nick had some bad news from home earlier in the week so he had to deal with that too... it was a bump back to reality sadly. Eventually at about 9am we got off the ship and picked up our luggage... went through "customs" (nothing like an airport) and then got the shuttle back to the car. It was very painless, I was impressed. We drove back to Orlando and Nick dropped me off at Commons - I was home by 10.30am. Sad face.
It was a wonderful break away from Disney and life in general really. Something about having no phone signal and getting to spend four days with my best friend here really cheered me up!
I was very efficient, unpacking straight away, did all my laundry and cleaned/tidied my apartment before getting ready for work. Once I got there I found out I was on lower deck at 707... this would have been fine if it wasn't forecast to pour with rain all evening! I needed money to pay back the cruise!! I had the grand total of two tables, four guests and made $23. I got cut at 8pm when it was really pouring and ended up back at home by 9pm. To be fair, I was pretty tired as it had been a long day but unfortunate on the money side!
Yesterday, I got up and called my Mum for an hour. Then I went to Panera Bread with Tyler as we had to catch up on the week. We got the bus to work where I saw these massive blue/black clouds rolling in... got section 303 which was good because it was inside and I had no risk of getting cut! I had some good guests, some demanding guests and there were many computer issues all day... we were on manual for most of the shift with the assigning and seating so that was fun (not). The heavens opened at about 5pm and we had a massive thunderstorm with some of the most impressive rain I've ever seen! I had POS's as my sidework on my own as my sidework partner was lower deck and got cut early on... this is the hardest sidework to do on your own so that was great... my guests had all left by 9.30pm and I got home at 11.40pm - YAWN. I also found a live cockroach in my section which was vile and I nearly vommed because I touched it!! One of my transactions got stuck in the computer even though I'd finalised it (like I said, computer issues) so basically I was really glad when I finally got home. I did earn quite good money though so that's nice.
One more PM today and then I'm off to Georgia tomorrow night! Jet set life style, eh?