I am happy that I cannot watch the sunrise from my stateroom. My room is on the starboard side of the ship (i.e. the right, when facing forward), meaning that it is the sunsets that I get to view on the first half of the trip. Watching the sun rise will mean that I am headed home, and I am not ready for that yet.
While they charge for most room service, coffee and pastries are still free, as in ‘tip your delivery person, but no charge for the food itself’ kind of way. It’s why I ensured I took a complement of $5’s with me. The coffee isn’t spectacular, but I woke up with a headache. Say ‘hangover’ all you want, but I had two glasses of water after my one shot of Fireball with Nick last night. No, this was one of my classic “lopsided nostril” headaches that are just plain annoying, and happen regularly. My dad has been telling me to get that taken care of for years; this may well be the year I finally decide to do so. This headache also made me poignantly aware that I didn’t pack any Advil this trip. Thus, my first order of the day was to take care of my headache, so yes…Advil…from a gift shop…on a cruise liner that serves a LOT of drinks…yeah, I debated whether to just live with the headache, but I did cave. Once that was taken care of, back to my stateroom to get ready for the day.
My morning routine is generally crap, inconsistent, and half-done. Amongst the things I intended to do on this trip was to ensure that I do everything, every time, and so far, I’m off to a pretty good start, albeit a slow one, due to the aforementioned headache, that took about 90 minutes to subside and sent me back to bed for a little while.
Once done, I headed downstairs to get my internet situation squared away. I hear you judging me right now, to which I say, “…and how, exactly, did you want me to post the update you’re reading right now?” I was pleasantly surprised to find that I had a 1GB plan, rather than a 240-minute plan. I say this because I’m pretty good at keeping my bandwidth usage down – the use of noscript and flashblock takes care of a lot of bandwidth-heavy content on websites, I’m pretty good about keeping my background data using apps off when I need to conserve, Remote Desktop for the unavoidable data pigs, and e-mail clients over browser based access, every time – I still haven’t hit 50MB yet. Even more notably, the internet on the ship, while certainly having high latency, seems only slightly slower than my internet at home. Whether that’s a compliment to the on-ship internet or an insult to my home internet will be an exercise left to the reader. Either way, I spent my morning wrapping up last night’s blog entry and uploading it, then playing Mass Effect for a bit.
I did my “one fancy meal” last night, so lunch was done at one of their standard dining rooms…and by ‘standard’ I mean ‘still upscale and excellent’. The tomato soup was good, and reminded me that I do need to make my ‘unhealthy tomato bisque’ again soon, because it’s amazing. The fish and chips were also fantastic, though unsurprisingly, seemed to have been forged in the fires of Mordor and took some time to cool off, though tasty once it did.
I spent my time at lunch thinking about exactly how much data is crunched by Norwegian, and what kind of profile they have on me. In theory, they know when I wake up and approximately when I go to sleep. They know when (and what) I eat and drink, they know when I’m online (and possibly, what sites I’m visiting), and what I buy and where. Depending on whether they’ve installed beacons on the ship, they may well know exactly where I am, within a few dozen feet, and how I traverse the vessel…to say nothing about the (literally) thousands of cameras throughout the ship. Over the course of a week, it’ll end up being a pretty detailed profile, with virtually no way to opt out. I’m not sure I’m okay with that, but at least this week, I’m short on choices.
I had some time to kill, so back to the wonderful game of “not all who wander are lost”. Of course, the corollary to that would likely be, “they may not be lost, but they frequently don’t blend”. Y’know…because it totally makes sense to be on the pool deck wearing jeans and a button down shirt. Even so I think I learned a lesson today: all those nerdy/technical T-shirts I considered unfit to pack…I should have packed them. I say this because I passed an individual wearing a shirt that said “N7” on it. If you’re uncertain of the significance of N7, Google it until you do. What was intended to be a passing comment ended up turning into a lengthy conversation with the first friends I’ve made on the ship. Jon, his lady friend Lauren, and I ended up talking for nearly an hour regarding games, trips, life, occupations, and plenty of other topics. So, here’s today’s lesson: wear something that can very easily help strike up a conversation. Its corollary would be this: “…just be prepared for a highly specific person to resonate with that topic”. We made plans to meet up for dinner at 6.
I attempted to head over to the solo travelers meet-up, but it was being held in the ‘solo lounge’, an area designated for those staying in a specific set of staterooms optimized for solo travel…and by ‘optimized’, I mean ‘much smaller than my balcony room’. The solo lounge had a keycard access system to limit entrance. I went to the guest services desk, who indicated that it should open up in a few minutes, so I went back up, still couldn’t get in, and then said, ‘the heck with it’.
I’ve come to the conclusion that Jon (and Lauren, to a lesser extent) have ‘adopted’ me as their project for the trip. We had dinner at the top-level buffet area; amongst the things I have always appreciated about cruises was the fact that even the included, non-premium restaurants are still excellent, and you won’t beat the buffet for food diversity and impulse eating. The three of us talked about a number of topics, notably their preference for well done steak, though Jon has learned to prefer medium-well. This came up because they ended up going to the steakhouse last night (incidentally shortly after I did), and Jon made the mistake of ordering his medium rare, not realizing that “real” steakhouses will actually leave the center red if you ask for medium rare – we had a good laugh over the awkward situation. Him being Haitian and her being Caribbean (she didn’t get more specific), they noted that it is at least partially a cultural thing. They ended up inviting me to work out with them, I both appreciated the motivation to go for it and dreaded his ’18 minute insanity’. Also, my pajama pants found themselves pulling double duty as workout sweats.
Several rounds of push-ups of different styles, several rounds of roman twists, and several rounds of planks and reverse crunches later, we were done. It only took a few minutes for the ‘first workout pain’ to set in, but it did. Even so, I was happy I actually worked out, and glad I had friends with whom to share the misery (arguably the reason Jon and Lauren had me join them in the first place). We went back to our respective rooms to shower, and meet back up at the club later in the evening.
“Napping before clubbing” has a downside – you have to wake up to go out and party. I debated just rolling over and going back to bed, but they were expecting me, so I got dressed, did my hair, and headed out.
I ran into them, we started talking, and Jon asked me how well I dance. Here is the difference between Jon and Lauren, and you, the people that know me: you know where this is going, and when I say, “I don’t dance well”, you believe me. Jon seemed to be of the persuasion that he could pep talk me into giving it a shot. He ultimately won out for a bit, but not so much due to his inner Tony Robbins as much as the fact that he did have a point – after taking a look around the dance floor and watching the ~40 guys on the dance floor, there was one dude with a fedora that seemed to somewhat-know what he was doing, one guy who looked a bit like Justin Bieber and was probably underage…and everyone else was poorly foot-shuffling with a drink in their hand, occasionally, even on beat. It’s weird, because this exact scenario has played out dozens of times in my life, but it doesn’t ever seem to get less awkward. Nonetheless, I decided to indulge them and give it a shot, if for no other reason than because his pep talk involved a number of Mass Effect references, which were absurdly ridiculous comparisons that made me laugh. I did dance for a bit, but like most uncomfortable situations, it’s the kind of thing I can do in small doses. I did, then I sat down for a bit to just observe. I didn’t understand the DJ’s logic at times – while Suavamente was surprisingly well received, he played lots of the recent Enrique Iglesias songs (the full-Spanish versions), and after his third in an hour, he lost nearly 70% of his dance floor. I was surprised because, given how well “Be Faithful” was received, keeping it “pop-hop” would have been so easy to have kept the crowd happy. At some point, I lost sight of Jon and Lauren; I felt bad about not having said goodbye to them. Since we’ve got no meaningful means of communication and no set plans to get together tomorrow, it’ll be a matter of serendipity to find each other.
Before I headed back to my room for the night, I stopped by one of the restaurants for a late night snack, and for the first time, I wasn’t impressed. Nacho plates aren’t difficult to make well, but this one was well below my expectations. Perhaps it’s because things were otherwise set high so far. Now though, it’s time to go to sleep, for real this time.