Day 1: It Rained on My Paradise

It’s 10:00 PM and someone already puked. Strangely enough, I hope it’s alcohol related. At least then I can assume that the culprit was having a good time. The seas have been extremely calm. Only the occasional sway. Not even enough to get my mom sick. Must have been alcohol related.

Nearly stepping in someone else’s vomit caps an otherwise disappointing day. I’m on my own, enjoying a fine alcoholic beverage in the Schooner Lounge, the equivalent of a fancy hotel bar. The band plays Jordu, a jazz standard every wannabe jazzman knows. They play louder than the room can really handle. Makes it difficult for me to hear my CD player. Woe is me. Sitting in a lounge on a floating paradise. My life really sucks…

It looks like I’m on my own for the rest of the evening. Evan and Joelle went to bed early. They took the red eye in from LA. They showed up at my uncle’s house at 6:30 this morning. They’re going to bed more pissed off than anyone. They hauled all of their SCUBA gear expecting diving excursions at Cozumel and Grand Cayman, two places I’m told has the most spectacular diving in the Western Hemisphere. Hurricane Isidore has since rerouted our trip to Labadee, a Royal Caribbean owned island off the coast of Haiti, and Ocho Rios in Jamaica. If this cruise happened a year ago I’d be really excited to go to Jamaica but I have since been told that it’s not as nice as the pictures would have you believe. We’ll see. I’m most disappointed that I won’t get to see the Mayan ruins at Tulum. That would have been part of the Cozumel stop. Instead, it looks like I’ll be climbing the Dunn’s River Falls in Ocho Rios. I’m sure I won’t have anything to complain about in the end. I’ll probably be on my own for that trip. Evan and Joelle are trying to force Royal Caribbean into sponsoring a diving excursion in Jamaica. Mom’s knees are flaring up and my grandparents are lucky to be alive. Not so much because they’re 90, but because they haven’t killed each other yet. I guess 65 years of marriage will do that to you.

The bickering among the family started early. My grandmother freaks out about my grandfather, fearing that at any moment he can just collapse and that’ll be that. My grandfather refuses to listen to anything my grandmother says to him. He’s got it easy. He can just turn his hearing aids off. Mom has the medical degree and thinks everyone should do as she says (even though she hasn’t really practiced medicine in 20 years). Evan believes that Grandpa has lived a full life and should be able to do what he wants, even if it kills him. Joelle stays quiet. Must be nice knowing that you are only family by marriage. Me… I do what I’m told and get yelled at for not knowing it needed to be done five minutes ago.

In spite of the family, I’m going to enjoy myself. I love cruises. They’re fascinating cultural collages. You’ve got everything from rednecks to aristocrats. Bingo to wine tasting. And the atmosphere feels like it was taken from the “Self Help to Paradise” hand book. It’s everything you were told it would be. Lots of sun. Crystal clear water. Tropical drinks at every turn. Women in bikinis dancing (though that’s not as pretty as it sounds.) Like a really fancy day camp. “Well… there’s mini golfing at 9:00, bingo at 10:00, arts and crafts at 1:00 and surf and turf for dinner at 6:00.

I’ve found myself wondering what a nodermeet would be like on a cruise. I’m thinking that it’s good the booze is expensive. Although the duty free shop is selling two litres of Absolute for 18 bucks. The party wouldn’t leave the staterooms.

This afternoon was uneventful. There’s nothing planned until everyone gets on board. I took a nap until we had the mandatory emergency drill. That’s a comical experience. No one seemed to understand why we have these drills. The lady next to me was screaming in frustration that she couldn’t wear the life jacket without ruining her hair. Others were jumping out of line to snap a picture of their friends looking silly in their life jackets. It would suck if we drowned and they never got to see those pictures.

I had too much garlic at dinner. Roasted garlic soup and pasta in garlic sauce doesn’t sound like a recipe for sweet lovin’. Makes me glad my girlfriend’s not here.

There’s an older woman sitting alone at the bar. She’s waiting to get picked up. Every guy that’s come within 5 feet of her has been engaged in conversation. None has lasted very long. My father used to recommend this strategy to the lonely women in Cape Cod. I never thought it would work. Looks like I was right… for tonight anyway.

It’s still only 10:30. I’m getting old.

The Voyage Continues

Day 2: Ernest goes to Sea
Day 3: Labadee, Labada, Life Goes on, Bra!
Day 4: I seis the Rios, I siete the Rios, I Ocho the Rios
Day 5: The Voyage Home