Fresh from a 9 day Caribbean cruise, I reflect on my experience as I awaken from a deep Saturday afternoon catnap spawned from a 7 am wake up call, a rigorous disembarkation, negotiating the Brooklyn cruise terminal with a longshoreman named Vinnie pushing a luggage cart full of suitcases and garment bags belonging to 1 diva, her 2 parents, her 3 children, and ALL their purchases. Luckily, Vinnie had a nice sense of humor and enjoyed mild flirtation and large tips, as he magically loaded my Lexus with DOUBLE the baggage we originated with.
It was a wake up call in more ways than one…after 8 days of rising at 10 am, retiring at 1 am, and filling the time in between with eating, drinking, shopping, playing and sunning…having to rise at 7 am, vacate the suite by 8 am, remain in a holding area until your number was called until 10 am to walk the gangway with all your belongings was brutal to say the least.
There has to be a bit more civilized manner of easing us back into reality… perhaps farewell mimosas? A simple little mimosa would have eased the pain considerably.
I am pregnant with opinions and speculations about my cruise, and it is time to give birth! I have cruised before…but never as a blogger, as a writer, as a woman who can be in the moment, and as a speculator. Oh the joy of being a speculator. I vacation with my parents who are in their 80’s, and my children who are 14, 10, and 6. So, from the standpoint of there being “something for everyone”, the cruise was perfect.
My daily routine while we were at sea, meaning a day when the ship does not stop at any ports, was this: wake up at 9, run to the pool and reserve a lounger, place my belongings on it so no one else claims it, return to my suite, sleep more, get out of bed at 10, slather tan enhancer then Hawaiian Tropic SPF 30 all over, slip into my bikini and cover- up, and enter the breakfast buffet with the family, eat a half a bagel with lox and red onion and granola and yogurt, take my son to the kids club, bid farewell to my daughters as they had meetings scheduled with friends from all over the world, bid farewell to my parents as they embarked upon their walk, ease into my lounger, get greeted by Sheldon from Jamaica who might as well have been my private butler, smiling with my morning cocktail in hand, and let the day unfold… which could mean many things. It could mean a conversation with the lovely Jessa traveling solo from the UK, or Nicole from Long Island, vacationing with 5 family members, who shared her blessed water spray bottle as we both tanned and laughed the day away. It could mean silently and pleasurably completing a few chapters of Marianne Williamson’s A Woman’s Worth. It could mean watching a movie right there at the pool. Yes, they show feature films at the pool, how cool is that? It could mean a nice deep sleep as the sun bathed my body and the sea breeze blanketed me.
The coolest part is the day comprised of WHATEVER I FELT LIKE. Woop Woop! And that is, or what should be, the definition of vacation. Everybody in the group does their own thing and respects each other’s right to do the same. Blessed be!
Oh, that made our daily family meeting for the planning of the evening so much juicier! We would all convene in our connecting suites at 4ish, and plan our evening over afternoon cocktails (I love vacation) and a selection of hors d’oeurves lovingly chosen by my sweet daughter Sophia. The kids often had activities in their “clubs” scheduled for the evening, and I would plan a nice dinner with my parents and sometimes our whole group, always in the dining, room at 8:30ish, and typically followed by a show or a band. Then off to a dreamy sleep, gently rocked by with soft sway of the ship.
By the way, I love the Australians. The crew and captain were Australian. They scheduled teen activities until 3 am!! My night owl daughter was in heaven! And you always know your kids are safe in the confines of the ship. Respect their freedom. They are individuals. Thanks to the Australians for letting our kids enjoy and feel grown up and for not confining them!
And then there were port days–San Juan, Grand Turk, Bermuda, and St.Thomas. If you schedule an excursion which is a tour booked through the cruise line and can be anything from a skyride to a snorkel expedition, you must meet your group at a designated time. Or you can just visit the port at your leisure. Since my family does not do well with anything scheduled, especially on vacation, we enjoyed the empty ship as the throngs of passengers rushed to disembark (what’s the rush anyway? jeez.), and we disembarked at our leisure and did our own sightseeing and shopping. Only in Grand Turk, did I plan a kayak expedition with the kids but that was not until 2:30 pm. Thank God they had an excursion at a civilized hour )
At the rest of the ports we shopped and walked, and I returned swathed in perfume spritzes. Duty free shopping is quite the pastime–jewelry, booze, and perfume (ahhh, the trinity of hedonism). And yes, we imbibed in all of the above. Three bottles of Absolut for $33!!! That’s $11 a bottle–shit, I pay that for a latte in NYC. So why must there be a limit?? We could have boosted the economy of these hurricane devastated countries if not for the duty free limit!
And then there was Johnny at Royal Caribbean Jewelers in St. Thomas. What a salesman. How well he handled my negotiating skill. Actually, how well he handled my mom and I tag teaming it (she taught me everything I know). Suave, patient, and attentive, Johnny was. And we each walked out with a little somethin’ somethin’. God bless duty free shopping. And, yes. There we boosted the economy of that hurricane devastated island…
Oh my…this is a blog for brides! I digress! Sorry, I just had to share. So…divinely modern bride…would you honeymoon on the Caribbean Princess? That is a good question. Here are some factors to take into consideration. If you are honeymooning during any school breaks, realize that the ship will most likely be full of KIDS. All kinds, sweet bride– infants, teens, and everything in between. And they are EVERYWHERE. Now, traveling as a mom, I was OK with this, because I knew my kids were happy. But unless you are ready to be cast with the kid spell this early in your marriage, you might not enjoy the kid frenzy that is inherent to cruising in the summertime. If you want a secluded getaway with your new hubby, this ain’t it.
And I just have to spill about one more thing. This is just the snob in me…but the Caribbean Princess is not supreme in luxury. Ok, our room steward was amazing. Angelo cleaned our mess twice a day and boy he had his work cut out for him. And the dining room staff was on the top of their game–kudos to them! (of course the dining room is run by Italians . And the ship was immaculate from top to bottom. But on your honeymoon, as your tanning next to your beloved, you will be awoken by constant PA announcements for Bingo in 10 minutes and Kid Volleyball at 3pm. And breakfast can be a bit of a feeding frenzy. You have to stand in line for your eggs, toast your own bagel, and it is crowded! You are constantly getting bumped by other ravenous cruisers. And the china in the buffet area is PLASTIC. I know, I’m a snob, but there is something about being greeted by a mimosa in a GLASS, and sitting down and being SERVED on bone china (thanks for spoiling me rotten Ritz Carlton). It’s so much more civilized. And so much more of what I wanted on my honeymoon when I was in full princess form…
So there you have it. If you love the idea of cruising on the Caribbean Princess for your honeymoon go for it! If you want to cruise but don’t want all the frenzy, spring for a more luxurious cruise line, like Cunard. But, when you are ready for a vacation where you can enjoy your space from your partner and each do your own thing as well as have fun together, or a getaway with the girls, and most definitely a family vacation…I highly recommend the Caribbean Princess.