“What Time is the Midnight Buffet?”

Brilliance of the Seas
Creative fruit carving in the cruise ship dining room
In a prior blog post, I rated vacation options and gave cruises a B+. My wife and I returned earlier this month from a cruise on Royal Caribbean and here are a few low and highlights.

As a cruise line, Royal Caribbean provides a very good experience, compared to Carnival and its assortment of gastrointestinal maladies and exploding ship parts. We also like Princess Cruises, despite its uppity, pretentious name. And we’d recommend the U.S. Navy if you’re looking for a more long-term voyage and commitment.

In general, I’m a jolly traveler and easy-going tourist. On occasion, however, my vacation behavior deserves a reprimand. For instance, one island cruise stop included a beach party in a deep, beautiful lagoon. About 50 feet offshore bobbed an inflatable iceberg tethered to the lagoon. The eyesore attracted a lot of kids, mainly 8 to 14 years old, who climbed the berg’s ladder rungs to the top and then squealed as they slid and plunged into the ocean’s crystal blue waters.

No age restrictions were posted on the inflatable toy, so I swam out to the huge, protruding beach berg and waited for my rightful turn on the behemoth. By guess, I exceeded most swimmers’ ages by 40 years or so. It was slow going and the line extended well beyond my water-treading skills. I became impatient as our departure time on the island was fast approaching. So, I made an executive decision and line-jumped by telling 15 kids that my grandchild was frozen in fear at the iceberg’s peak and his “Pa-Pa” needed to rescue him.

I felt a little bad about the deception, but got over it as soon as my backside slid down the berg’s slippery surface, ending with my perfect cannonball into the refreshing abyss. I justified my actions by concluding that young minds need a lesson in tolerance and respecting their elders. I’m all about mentoring kids.

Like many vacationers, my wife and I enjoy people watching. In particular, sunscreen application techniques are fun to observe. One guy caked such an enormous amount on his face that he looked like the villain from the Scream movies. I could have squeegeed his cheeks and forehead and used the excess sunscreen to coat the space shuttle tiles for successful re-entry into the earth’s atmosphere. In contrast, there are other people who will only apply sunscreen after solar flares erupt on their bodies' surface.

And the clothes combinations that people mix and match! I counted 27 colors not found anywhere in nature on one guy’s beach smock. An old guy’s paisley shorts were pulled up so high that he had to cut out eyeholes in the fabric to see where he was going. Another guy wore a shirt and pair of shorts with such contrasting designs that his outfit was hypnotizing people as he walked by them. “I will cluck like a chicken whenever I hear the number 15.”

In one island port, we visited Jimmy Buffet’s Margaritaville, a wildly fun establishment where the waiters and waitresses poured alcohol shots down your throats, directly from the bottle. My, that was delightful. Next thing, we were competing with 10 other much younger couples in a weird balloon bursting game that we won’t tell our grandchildren about, when we have some.

What’s your stance on peeing in the ocean while snorkeling? Just curious. No reason in particular.
Royal Caribbean Cruise Line
More cruise ship creativity: the towel animals

As we waited to disembark the cruise ship for an energetic kayaking eco-adventure through a mangrove forest, we chatted in line with some vacationers who were going to an indoor tour of a house made of seashells. I thought to myself, “how lame” compared to all of the outdoor beauty awaiting at our more adventurous destination. After we paddled in our kayaks for 10 minutes, an ocean storm blew in and turned our eco-quest into a rescue mission. Cold, shivering and bobbing in the ocean, I wondered about the vacationers at the seashell house and if their tour included any free rum punch and crackers.

Cruise ships are notorious for several features, all of which become readily apparent once you try this type of vacation. The toilets operate with such suctioning force and velocity that, if you attempted to stay seated during a flush, any fillings in your mouth would end up in the ship’s septic system. Throughout the ship, food and dining opportunities are relentless. And the individual who coined the phrase “there are no dumb questions” never vacationed on a cruise ship. My favorite, although I didn’t hear it directly, is “What time is the midnight buffet?”

Personally, I like the ice carvings they sculpt for the dining room shrimp and lobster claw display. I wonder what they do with the carvings after they melt?

(next post: "As Melvin Strutted by the Pool, Women Dressed Him with Their Eyes")