Monday, January 18, 2010

Cruisin' Jan 11-15th

Sas, Phil and I have experienced some absolutely amazing stuff on our journey. The intensity of New Years Eve in New York, the stunning snow at Mont Tremblant and all the flashing lights of Las Vegas – they were all incredible. But, the three of us unanimously agreed that our 4 night cruise through the West Caribbean was the best of all.

This was our first cruise, and I can’t be 100% sure but I’m willing to bet that most of you who are reading this haven’t been on a cruise before either, or if you have, you were too young to remember. It doesn’t matter, I can only describe it the way I experienced it.

OK, when I hear the word cruise, I think sundecks, pools and cocktails, but all on a big boat, and not much more besides that. Oh but there is SO much more. The closest I can get to capturing the experience is this: think Titanic – yeah, elegance, class and all that good stuff, then imagine that it all takes place in the high-rolling, outrageous setting of a huge Las Vegas mega-resort with all of its amenities and bits and pieces. Now you have to recall that this huge wonderland is meandering through the Caribbean, stopping at various exotic islands.

Onboard, you’re never short of things to do. In fact I kept a copy of one of the daily programs which gets slid under the door of your cabin every evening, accompanied with pillow chocolates and fresh towels folded into little animals. Our ship, the Imagination (aptly named), had it all. A casino, two theatres, two clubs, multiple lounges and bars, two formal dining rooms, a poolside buffet and grill, a shopping level, gym, spa & sauna, mini-golf, a running track (in case you missed dry land), and of course the outdoor pool and hot tubs. Oh, did I mention the huge water slide on the back? Activities and events included ping-pong tournaments, hairy chest competitions, deck parties, themed clubbing nights, theatre shows, stand-up comedy and of course shore excursions whenever we docked at a port.

Dining was just too good to be true, especially after our steady diet of subway foot-longs during the road trip. Everything is all-you-can-eat, not just the buffet section on the pool deck. So that means the grill, where you choose the ingredients and the chefs wok fry it in front of you is also unlimited. Yes, it also means the sushi-bar, the deli, the pizza bar, and afternoon-tea in the piano bar is also unlimited. Amazingly, the policy extends to the formal dining.

Formal dining was really something. There’s usually a dress code on the ship, and elegant nights are stricter than others. It was nice though, just keeping with that classy feel. Anyway, like I said before, even formal dining is unlimited. So yes, every evening our headwaiter, Sir Edgard (he’s not really a knight but still gallant nonetheless) would present us with the unique menu, and we could pick multiple starters, mains and desserts. You could turn a standard 3 course meal into a 12 course pig-out. Shit, you can order the whole menu – 3 times over if you want! And no, this isn’t standard cafe-bistro food, this is seriously fine dining you’d expect to pay over $100 per head for if it was just 3 courses. Trust me, the pictures don’t lie (neither do the scales – ask Sas).

Soft drinks and booze on the other hand will cost you. The prices were standard, so it was still good, but that is obviously where they make the money (oh and the casino and bingo). However, juices were free, so pre-mixing was definitely the way to go for us. We managed to smuggle on ‘magic water’ (the Bacardi we bought for Sas’s failed Pina Colada mix on New Years) and that served us well.OK so you can see I could probably spend another couple of pages going on about how awesome the cruise was. I can’t even begin to tell you all the shenanigans we got up to. But here are some memorable and interesting bits:
  • The first people Sas made friends with were two huge bootified black chics from New Jersey.
  • My gym clothes and underwear got stolen from the change rooms by one of the janitors. I call him Mr. Pierre the underwear hoarder because when I asked him about whether he had seen my clothes, he immediately went to the dirty towel bin, scrounged around the bottom and pulled out my clothes from his stash.
  • Singing the SNL parody song “I’m on a boat” with all the drunk passengers in the karaoke lounge.
  • We also met Erika, the seemingly innocent girl from the family who were allocated to sit next to us in the dining room. It turns out Erika is a crazy chic who likes to start fights, not least of which with the 30 member black family who sung ‘We are family’ for karaoke.
  • Going deep water fishing in Cozumel, and getting the largest catch out of all the boats that went out today, and then getting to cook up our catch back on shore.
  • Phil and I dominated sports trivia against the yanks, despite the fact that most of the questions were about American sports.
Of course, there was just so much more. The point I’m trying to make is this: go on a cruise. You’ll love it.

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