At 62 I finally took my first cruise. I decided on a short cruise to get my sea legs and find out if I would enjoy cruising.
Did I enjoy it? YES.
A little of my first cruise experience.
Up early decided to fly in the day of the cruise. May rethink that for my next cruise and fly in the day before. No issues with the flight or connections just made for a long day since I left home at 4:30am from CT.
Took a diret flight on SW from CT to Orlando. As always SW was great not extra charge for the luggage and it had to me the smallest number of passengers I've experienced on a SW flight in some time. 40 passengers, so plenty of room to spread out, expecially since I had the exit row all to myself.
Landed in Orlando and had a voice message from the shuttle service. I did some research and found Florida Express, great deal $59 RT. The company picking me up was Travelynx. I landed at 9:30 and scheduled a pickup for 11am. The message on my cell phone said to call them as soon as I landed. Glad I did because I didn't have to wait to 11. I was picked up by Rob by 10am and at the cruise ship by 11am. Rob showed up with a mini bus and no other passengers. It was just Rob the driver and I. Rob just moved to Florida 6 months ago from Buffalo, NY and we had a great conversation during the 45 minute ride to the port.
I was concerned what would I do until 1:30 since everything I had received said the Monarch would not start boarding until 1:30 pm. To my joy the boarding process had already started. Checked in, metal detector, screening and since I had done the online registration I was in my seat for boarding with 10 minutes of my arrival. 15 minutes later we started our short walk onto the ship.
What to do now because my room would not be ready until 1PM. Not a worry I found a chair pool side and with a refreshing glass of iced tea in hand plugged in my IPOD and enjoyed one of my favorite passtimes....people watching.
1pm arrived and off to my room. I had an interior state room on deck 2. I opened the door and had no suprises. Exactly what I expected. Since I traveling alone the room was more than ample for me. My large suitcase had not arrived yet but I had my bathing suit in my carryon. Changed and started my exploration of the ship.
Of course the first thing I found was the food. A buffet for the boarding parties. Plenty of it and I had a table at the bow of the ship. Could see the large expanse of Cape Canaveral.
Before I knew it was time for dinner. I decided to have the early sitting, 5:45. When the doors opened to the Vincent dinning room I was escorted to my table and met Abdul and Win my waiter and assistant waiters for my trip. I was soon joined by Henry and Arlene from Rochester NY who were also on there first cruise. We had great conversations that night and also the next evening. They showed up late Saturday having fallen asleep and never made it Sunday night but more about that later.
Appetizer, scallops, main entry, Roast Leg of Lamb and some lemon sherbert for dessert. Excellent, Excellent.
Arlene orderd the Riggitoni in a cream sauce and Henry a steak. Henry said he wasn't empressed with the steak and wished he had ordered the Roast Leg of Lamb. Arlene was dissapointed with the pasta dish since she was expecting a red sauce. I told Abdul to bring Arlene the pasta with bolanase which was also on the side menu. Arlene missed that and whe was thrilled and mix her two dinner orders together. Shortly after dessert arrived Abdul, Win and several other waiters gathered round our table with another dessert and candle blazing it was Arlene's birthday. As everyone around us sang Arlene happy birthday an embarrased Arlene kept saying how did they know it was my birthday.
After dinner I started my trek aroung the decks and finding the casino on deck 5 entered with aprehension...I'm sure they don't pay. I sat down at a Penny slot put in $20 and shortly found out I had won $265. I cashed in as is my custom, living in CT and going to Foxwoods and Mohegan I've learned to always cash in when ahead and not play any more.
Then I was off to the Sound of Music for a show. The band played and there was a dance and singing number. Azeem a comedian was on next and kept the crowd entertained, funny, funny.
I then spent time in Boleros listening to some good music and dancing with some charming women.
Not be a real late night person and having started out my day to early I was in bed before midnight.
An ever so slight movement which actully was relaxing.
Up before 6am...yes I'm an early riser....and off to the Fitness Center. It was still dark with sunset expected aroung 6:30am. 20 minutes on the Step Master, 20 on the treadmill and 20 on the bike. I was determined to eat well on the trip but not gain any weight. It was a beautiful sunrise and most appropriately on my Ipod the Beatles started singing "Here Comes the Sun".
After a good work out and shower it was off to the Windjamer for the Buffet breakfast. Anything and everything you could imagine for breakfast and more.
Then is was off to the pool deck to relax. The pool water was a bit cool so I opted for the whirlpool for some relaxation for the muscles and more great conversation with other cuirzers.
Before I knew it, it was lunch time and we had arrived in Nassau. Only one other ship in port. What skill to turn the ship around a back into the parking space.
My excursion orginally scheduled was to be a boat and land/bus tour. Having never been to Nassua as whenever I go to a new place I like to take a tour and then visit anything that I might be more interested in than what was experienced as part of the tour....an advantage to traveling alone is I don't have to worry about what my partner will or will not enjoy.
The land part of the excursion was canceled becuase only 3 people had signed up for it. But the boat tour was great. Was passed by Paradise island and saw Atlantis and the guide provided us with many interesting and funny description or what we were looking at. Such as the battered small shipe loaded with everthing imaginable, from cars to mattresses. These ships were taking supplies back to Haiti. We saw Atlantis with what appeaeed to be a bridge between 2 towers and actually is/was Michael Jacksons Suite...you can rent it of $25K per night minimum 4 nights. We also saw the home of Lolyd of Loyld's of London, Tom Cruises place and Oprah's 2 homes side by side and many more. We then met another boat which part of our tour. It was a boat with a lower level below sealevel with seats an large glass sides. We then were take to several reef areas were we saw corral, all types and sizes of fish, sea turtles, rays and large sand sharks.
Then back to the city of Nassua where I explored the streets and shops such as the Straw Market. I now know where many cars that don't meet the USA emmissions standards end up.
Nassua was very hot and humid.
Back to the ship and time for a short nap. The custom's agent wasnt' in a sort of hurry. There was a French woman in front of me with her mother and 3 daughters. When I arrived there was no one behind me. The custom's agent was talking and talking with the French woman. I think at one time he proposed marriage to her. I looked behind me and now there were 50 people behind me...Nassua definitely slow paced...no hurry man.
On to the ship and nap time.....then supper
Waited for Hanry and Arelene....and waited....it was Formal night....wished some had respected the tradition and at least put a sport coat on.
Henry and Arlene did show up...they fell asleep and lost track of time.
No problem man...I had some great conversations with Abdul and Win. Abdul had been doing the crise lines for 12 years and sailed around the world 4 times. Wind was new and only on the ship of 1 month.
Not being one to lack for conversation I found out from both what their working days were like and what they did between time.. They both worked about 14 hour days and spent the off time in their rooms and actually enjoyed working because they met so many different people.
I ordered Roast Duck and Henry followed my order with Arlene ordering a Salmon entry. Both Heny and Arlene enjoyed tonight's dinner mucch more than last nights.
After dinner is was another great show, and more time listening to music and dancing.
Into bed before 11 and sound asleep.
We arrive at Cococay, the private island owned by Royal Carribean. Breakfast and off to the island on the first tender (the ship anchors off shore). 8am onto the 1st tender and 15 minutes later on the island. Explored and found perfect place with lounge chair feet from the water. Then went in search of my floating mat and snorkling gear.
A few but very few people were now showing up and those in the water said it was cold. Into my fins and mask and I plunged in...yes a bit cold but 20 feet out the water was 70 plus degrees. 2 hours of snorkling exploring the sunken cannon, boat and airplane.
Back on land and time for lunch. RC brings form teh ship a lunch buffet. Burgers, dogs, chicken, ribs, corn, salad, rice dishes and more.
Back in the water to just float around on my mat. Then spent the last 2 hours(we had to be back on the ship by 4:30pm) snorkling again...said I wasnt' going ot gain any weight.
3:30 back on ship and nap time.
Then is was supper time and Arlene and Henry were no shows. I then joined Mike and Francine at the next table and had a great conversation with both husband and wife who had retired from the NY area to Florida 12 years ago and were also on there first cruise. Mike was a elevator tech in the NY area and had installed may of the elevators in NYC including those at the WTC.
After dinner, more music, dancing and another show.
Could'n make it past 10.
Before going to sleep packed my luggae and put then outside the room. They were picked up by the crew during the night and would be ready for pick up when I went ashore. I could have elected to carry everything off myself and get off earlier but elected not to straing my back.
The only "trouble" I encontered with my cruise happended that night as a very loud woman decided to have a conversation with a couple in another room shouting at the top of her lungs about going to the 11:30 comedy show...as this conversation went on an on....I had to open the door and tell this woman that people on the 6th deck could hear her...whe took the hint and shut up.
Arrival back at Port Canaveral...my travel receipt was delivered and no unepected charges....Off to breakfast and then back to my room to pick up my backpack. My room had alread been converted over from a single large bed to two twin beds. That was quick.
Lucas my room attendant was seldom seen but very efficient.
Off to my disembarkment waitng area, the Sound of Musci Theater. Found out my disembarkment time was scheduled for 9:15 am. Since I had scheduled a pick up for 9:30am I was concerned I'd be late and have an issue.
I called Judy at Lynx and she said no problem she had me on the list and would see me when I got off.
9:15 rolled around and I was checked out, thought customs and had my luggage before 9:30.
I met Judy and she called for the van...who shows up but Rob again and we had 6 others with us. I had the front seat and Rob along with a fellow from Arizona who was on the ship with his wife and young daughter and were entertainers who did the puppet show Saturday night. Peter from Arizona sat in the next row behind Rob and I and we had a great conversation to the Orlando airport which may the 45 minute ride go by in no time.
Dropped off at the airport, onto my SW flight back home at 12:30pm to Hartford, CT. Arrived safe and sound at Bradley 20 minutes ahead of schedule.
Home rested...took today and tomorrow off to recover.
As you can see I enjoyed myself as a first time cruiser. I had a great all around trip from my plane rides, airport to ship connections, excursions etc.
My only question is....how do you fit 15 meals into one day.
OH! Almost forgot....I lost 5 pounds on the cruise.