I woke up, got coffee, and played Mass Effect all day, interrupted only by the housekeeping guy and having to stop to get food.
Now, if you spent more than 0.68 seconds actually thinking that that’s how my day went, go sit in the corner and think about what you just thought. You can come out only if you have mentally apologized or if you know what the 0.68 second figure was referencing (hint: it is nearly an eternity).
I did wake up – that much is indeed accurate, so my apologies to anyone who was hoping to get the windfall of a massive lawsuit. In fact, I woke up early enough to get breakfast at the main buffet room. I kept an eye out for Jon and Lauren, but didn’t see them. This was at least somewhat surprising, because 9AM seems to be peak hour for all the breakfast places. there was an omelet station and thick-cut mocha french toast, both highly recommended. I liked being able to watch the land get closer. Today, our destination was Great Stirrup Cay, an island owned by Norwegian, meaning that there were precisely two types of humans on that island: tourists and employees, so it’s basically a permanently docked version of the boat itself. About 10AM, the captain came on the loudspeaker to make an announcement. Side note: I have full confidence in the captain’s ability to skillfully command this massive vessel. However, he’s got a Russian accent so thick, you can slice it with a moderately sized meat cleaver. I’m of the persuasion that it might be a better idea to have someone with a voice for a PA system repeat what he’s saying, for the benefit of literally everyone…and yes, I’d expect nothing less if I were ever required to make an announcement for a primarily Russian-speaking crowd. While I’m on this tangent, what is it with boat and airline captains making useless statements? “The wind is blowing from the north-northeast at 16 miles per hour.” “Oh hey, my favorite wind direction, and a speed that happens to be a perfect square? This is my lucky day!” Seriously, nobody on this ship cares, but I digress. His announcement was the fact that the weather was sufficiently bad that there were concerns with the tender ferries, and even if there weren’t, the slight drizzle made a mess of basically everyone’s plans that involved the beach, including mine. I had exactly one plan today: find somewhere to get a piña colada, served in a coconut and with one of those little umbrellas, and lie on a beach…for as long as I could without turning into a tomato. I was so looking forward to this, I even applied sunscreen this morning. You had one job, Great Stirrup Cay! One job! Oh well.
This left us with a very full ship, as the pool/outdoor stuff wasn’t much of a picnic. The EDM tracks playing pervasively at a low volume in the public areas of the ship were almost a contrast to the overall tone that was being experienced. Props to the crew for managing to deal with such a packed interior area, the folks downstairs who undoubtedly ran a color copier on overdrive to print out a thousand copies of a new schedule, the bartenders who certainly brought their A-game, and the people who made arrangements for our ship to head over to Nassau early. Now certainly this can’t be unblazed trail for them, but neither is Black Friday at most retailers – that doesn’t make it any less stressful. At first I was wondering whether having to make all those refunds was going to be costly for NCL, given that there wasn’t an empty seat at a single video poker or slot machine on the ship, I’m certain that no one lost any money as a result of the rain (well, the company, anyway…the passengers are likely a different story). So yes, there was some Mass Effect playage today…but by default, as everything else on the ship was standing room only. I did manage to find a place to eat that wasn’t a zoo though – it was a buffet that was on the mirror side of the steakhouse. While the soup and the cheesecake were the highlights of the meal, the jerk chicken and ribs were less of a standout, though not bad by any means.
Now, before you come out and tell me how I need to not squirrel away in my room all day just because I have a valid excuse, I say to you, “don’t worry, I heard you yelling at me. After a while, the sun started coming out and the outdoor facilities reopened. So, I decided to put on my swimming trunks, grab my beach towel, put on my wet shoes, and head up to the pool deck in order to water slide. There are three water slides on board. certainly not as long as the ones at Splish Splash, but one has a notable design that is a near straight drop with an upward curve before splashdown. Another has four corkscrews in a relatively tight space, making the rider go plenty fast before the end, and the last one is a slower, open-tube one. Surprisingly, it was the last one that I enjoyed the most, though I went on all of them twice. The free-fall one was nerve racking, only because one stands on a platform that drops out below the rider, and an audible countdown builds tension, and the strong desire to utter an expletive. I didn’t do so, however, if for no other reason, than because I was the oldest person riding the slides – everyone else was approximately 15 and younger, with the exception of who I presume to be the father of one of the girls who was riding; the pair would ride down together where practical, or in immediate succession where it was not. It was great to see that sort of relationship building. Still while no one thought anything of me being amongst the crowd of kids less than half my age, it definitely caused me to feel self conscious, a feeling I presume won’t be changing any time soon.
As I wrapped up my time at the water slide, I watched the boat pull into port; another Norwegian boat and a Royal Caribbean cruise liner were also docked; we were close enough to see people on the boat, but my attempts to wave at people on the other boats weren’t fruitful, not that I expected them to be. Despite having docked, I didn’t feel ready to leave, so I thought I’d at least catch dinner before it got crowded. I went to another main dining room, named “The Manhattan Room”. It had a distinct atmosphere of its own; the lighting fixtures were WWII era, the menus had a sepia-toned image of the Empire State Building on them, and big band music played softly in the room. The flashback scenes from Captain America could have been filmed in this room and would have been believable. The Chicken Kyiv was again, simply ‘good’, rather than ‘impressive’, though I did enjoy the salad. On my way out, I heard another passenger ask, “there isn’t a bar in here, is there?” To which I answered, “dude…where on this ship have you ever been more than 50 feet from a bar?”. His friends laughed, and he replied, “Well, I just came from one”. I wasn’t going touch it thereafter.
After dinner, I decided to take a walk around the island. It was getting dark, but I had a bit over an hour of sunlight left. Near the dock, there were the usual T-shirt salesmen, hair braiders, and such, as is a near-given in places where tourism dollars are an economic staple. However, me being me, I decided to walk past all of them and see what else was in the vicinity, and I was surprised. If I could describe the area in three words, those three words would be, “sketchy as [expletive]”. The buildings were as unmaintained as the traffic lights and the roadways. The cars were either new BMWs, these Toyota vans that looked a bit like a VW bus, or certified hoopdies – early 90’s cars with massive dents, color-mismatched doors, broken light lenses, the works. There was no in-between. The first bar I came across was called “The Bearded Clam” (don’t Google it), and though there was a Rolex dealer and three diamond shops, the only place I saw to eat was a Burger King. I wasn’t ten minutes into my journey before I was asked if I wanted to buy some weed. I’ve walked through Manhattan at midnight and felt more safe than I did here. Now, you might say that that’s because it’s near my home and I know how things work there, and that’s probably the case. However, I’ve felt safer in Germany, London, and Bermuda, than I did here. Am I the only one that feels this way? Is the city intentionally designed to keep the tourists at bay (literally)? Does the tourism industry have such an ironhold on the economy here that they dictate how the city addresses this, and does so in a way that is a detriment to the areas of the island other than the ones to which they run the excursions? I don’t know…but I’ve formally decided that my next cruise will be back to Bermuda.
After my escapade, I came back to the ship and started writing my blog entry.That’s when serendipity struck and Jon and Lauren crossed my path. It was good to see them again; we discussed how they spent the last day and things of that nature, and made plans to get together at the glow party tonight.
I was a bit early to the glow party, which was just as well – they were finishing up an event called “the quest”, which was basically a ridiculous scavenger hunt that can basically be summed up by the following situation: two guys, each wearing someone else’s bra, had to run up to the front and act as if one of them was giving birth, with the other being the midwife. Of course, the real fun was the host, who had zero filter, and told one of the guys, “that bra fits a bit too well, are you sure it isn’t yours?”, amongst a litany of other comments along that vein. I stayed for a bit and then went back to my stateroom to get ready.
So, what does someone who packed no white clothes wear to the white party? A black shirt, dark jeans, and black sneakers. It seemed like it made a bit more sense to go further in the other direction than to try and get ‘close enough’ with a blue shirt and khakis. Dan Dan, our cruise director (as he identifies himself on literally every overhead announcement he makes), was tonight’s hype man, and he did a half decent job for the first half hour, then subtly made his exit from the main stage. Jon and Lauren were alternating between dancing a bit on the sidelines, and outright sitting down. I ragged on Jon for being a bit of a hypocrite, though I did appreciate the fact that he laid off the “you must do the uncomfortable thing” rhetoric and the three of us were able to just have a good time together. As a graphic designer, he and I had a bit of a debate whether the video loop containing outlines of dancing people was done by motion capture, or by rotoscoping. There was no clear victor in that discussion. Toward the end of the night, we headed over to the other, indoor club, where the DJ I spoke to the other night was spinning. Jon, Lauren, and I talked and danced for a bit more, though Jon did revert to his “talk to someone” advice. Lauren did me the solid of approaching one girl and starting a conversation that I joined into thereafter, though it seemed clear that Ana preferred to talk to Lauren than to me, but she was sharing some interesting stories about being a first grade teacher, so I guess one could argue that Ana was telling us both at the same time. Before I left, I did give Jon my room number so it’d be easier to coordinate plans going forward.
It wasn’t long after that it was time for bed; tomorrow is my early day.