After a week cruising paradise (on a ship that was pretty awesome on its own), I have to admit that I'm still pretty happy to be back in Beantown (despite the weather difference). Don't get me wrong: I had a fantastic time with my family, and I can't wait to see them again for Easter next month, but here, life is going some place, in theory. There's more to my life than lounging in the sun, stuffing my face, and wandering aimlessly through port cities (not that it isn't fun every once in a while, though).
It seemed inappropriate to start Blogs from the Oasis with a prelude and not include some kind of bookend, so consider this my bookend. I may still add a couple posts, but just know that from here on out, it's all just aftermath. Cheers!
"I'm Goin' Home," Hootie and the Blowfish
Lesson #6: Given the unpleasant chore of packing dirty laundry and all the crap (or "souvenirs," if you must) one has accumulated over a week of vacation, trying to get a decent night's sleep the last night of a cruise is futile.
Lesson #7: Lesson #6 is no reasonable excuse to try and attack an unfinished, week-long, ship-wide pub crawl.
Being the social drinkers we are, Dad and I set a goal for ourselves before we even boarded plans to Ft. Lauderdale last week: hit every single bar or pub on Oasis of the Seas at least once. Given that there are 24 venues that serve alcohol, this dynamic duo didn't even come close, but we made a solid effort. Between the two of us, we crossed 12 establishments off our list - damn, guess we'll have to cruise Oasis again to get the other half. I'll try to document where we were successful in the near future.
Lesson #5: Dehydration aside, St. Maarten is awesome. Yesterday was going pretty well until about 12.30 when my brain decided to swell to twice its intended size (see previous post). From then until about 10.00 this morning, basic human function was a no-go. Even now I admit I'm still not 100% with it. Why, just now I tried to take a sip of my iced latte without removing the straw wrapper first. For those of you who have wondered, yes: it's gross.
Mom and I did have a great time in St. Maarten, though. Dad and bro went on an excursion exploring the French side of the island while we opted to do some serious window shopping on the Dutch side. Mom treated herself to a couple of well deserved accessories, but try as I might, I could not convince her to drop $140 on a set of bedsheets made out of bamboo (you're only judging right now if you've never experienced bamboo).
Today is our last day at sea. For the first time all week I haven't been chomping at the bit to do something worth writing home about. Instead I've been content to lounge in the Royal Promenade, sip my straw-wrapper-free latte, people-watch, chat with this lovely crew from Virginia about Starbucks and my unStarbucks job-hunt, and blog with my pencil. My final spills on the FlowRider will likely have to wait until tomorrow before we dock in Nassau, but maybe I'll turn up at an improv class after enjoying some wine and tapas with the parentals.
Tonight, guests will be enjoying a formal dinner. Tomorrow morning at the ungodly hour of 8.00 I have a spa appointment, and at 10.50 I'll be taking a ride on the zipline. We'll dock in Nassau in the early afternoon, and I'll sprint to the resident Starbucks and Tortuga, home of the best rum cake ever (next to the Little Wanderer's homemade variety, of course). After that everyone will be scrambling to pack up before we dock in Ft. Lauderdale for the last time to head back to our lives in the real world.
Funny as it may seem, I'm looking forward to it. I definitely needed the R & R, but back home, there are friends to see, dances to learn, and jobs to be found (yes, I do miss life in the PR realm). It'll be good to be back in Beantown, but while I'm stuck on Oasis, by Joe, I'm going to enjoy it.
Lesson #3: Those FlowRider-induced aches only get worse if you try to dance like Michael Jackson the next day. The "Thriller" zombies are more lithe than your average fully functional human being.
A decent chunk of today was spent hobbling through St. Thomas avoiding abrasive salespeople. Admittedly, they've been suffering from the harsh effects of the economy, but that didn't make them any less irritating. Mom and I didn't really have a retail agenda, but if we did, we were certainly in the right place. While the mainland may be rumoured to have streets paved with gold, those of St. Thomas were practically lined with it. And diamonds. And emeralds. And rubies. And tanzanite. All free of sales tax, and priced to move. If I had a dime for every jewelry store in St. Thomas, I might actually be able to buy one of my own. Mother and daughter opted out of bling in favour of some Belgian chocolate, Calvin Klein jeans and Clinique makeup - all for cheaper than we would have found in the Northeast.
It's a quarter of 5.00 now, and while Oasis will remain in port for another hour, I'm happy to be lounging back on the pool deck (although the wind is picking up and it looks like rain clouds are moving in). At a glance, paradise is nice, but the longer you stay, the more you find yourself thinking of home.
Tomorrow: St. Maarten.
Lesson #2: "In Soviet Russia, waves ride you." Oh. My. God. I cannot begin to explain the aches and pains I am experiencing after last night's FlowRider lesson, but once I get the multimedia evidence, I can try to show you. The FlowRider is one of the many experiences of Oasis. It is a continuous wave that allows participants to surf or boogie board. If they know what they're doing, I guess.
Along with my general discomfort, I have bruises up and down my legs, covering my elbow, and scattered across my toes. Folks, my toes are too small for bruises. I did have a lot of fun, though. Dad and bro gave it a shot and held their own pretty well while Mom caught everything on camera (in HD, I later learned). Your trusty blogger took the most abuse though because she was determined to learn every boogie board trick the Oasis sports staffers had to offer. I shall look upon my injuries as medals of achievement.
This morning I'm enjoying a Starbucks iced latte and a couple raspberry danishes (and licking my wounds) in Central Park. Yep, remember those neighborhoods I was telling you about? The only difference between this Central Park and the Big Apple counterpart is that there's no loose rubbish. Or drug-dealers. Or crazies (but that may change once the bars open).
I won't hesitate to remind you that Oasis is a gargantuan monster. I think it can carry over 5,000 guests. Not being a huge fan of crowds, the ship's size is a double-edged sword for me. While there is a ton of stuff to do, most options include lots and lots of other people trying to do the same thing. Sitting here a little after 9.00 A.M. seems to do the trick, though. I've probably seen fewer than 200 people since leaving my cabin this morning. It's almost as if I've found a way to take a small vacation from this vacation.
Tomorrow we dock at St. Thomas in the U.S. Virgin Islands. Today is another lazy day at sea. I may attend a wine tasting, a Michael Jackson dance class or a diamond and gemstone seminar. I may check out a fountain show. I may show my face at the gym again, or even better, at the FlowRider for additional smack-down. Nothing is set in stone for me. All I know is that whatever I do, it's going to be a heluva time.
Lesson #1: On the world's largest cruise ship, one drink demolishes your ability to walk in a straight line. Let's not talk about the four I had last night.
But seriously, this boat is bookin', and as a result, rockin'. And by "bookin'," I mean "zipping along at 16mph," which I hear is fast for a ship. St. Thomas is a ways away from Ft. Lauderdale: we have two days at sea before we reach our first port of call. This is my eighth cruise (and we're back to hating our author, I see . . .) and not once do I recall two days at sea off the bat.
Not that I've any qualms, though. There is so much to this ship that I doubt I'll know my way around before it's time to go home. Despite being awake since 3.30 yesterday morning to catch my 6.05 early flight to Ft. Lauderdale, I did have a smidgen of energy left in the afternoon to explore a bit. Can you guess what I found?
A carousel. A [expletive deleted]ing carousel.
It was in the Boardwalk neighborhood (yes, neighborhoods). With the Johnny Rockets. And the candy shop. And the doughnut shop. And the dollar-operated fortune-telling Zoltar. Oh right, and the aqua theatre.
Ladies and gentlemen, the above mentioned was all located in one meager portion of the ship. In addition, Oasis sports its own Central Park, gym and spa, minigolf course, zipline, comedy club, ice skating rink, solarium, casino, God knows how many bars, almost as many dining venues . . .
Like I said, I don't know if I can cover it all in one vacation!
For those of you who don't stalk me on Twitter - which I can't figure out for the life of me, by the way - yours, truly is on vacation with her family this week! We're cruising Royal Caribbean's Oasis of the Seas to St. Thomas, St. Maarten, and Nassau.
. . . Can you all get over your jealousy for 30 seconds to be happy for me?
Anyhoo, throughout the week I'll try to take time to blog about goings-on (pictures will unfortunately have to wait until I get back to Boston). 'Net access is dodgy (and expensive) on board though, so no promises.
Without further ado, Blogs from the Oasis!
You may recall that I was scheduled for an NYC excursion to celebrate a friend's birthday. You may also recall that I had counted on learning a few things during my adventure. Or you may have no idea what I'm talking about, and that's okay, too. Regardless, my original plan was to head into New York with my friend, meet up with some more friends, gallivant about Manhattan in a most inebriated fashion (I failed to mention that my friend was celebrating a 21st birthday), curl up in a hotel by the wee hours of the morning, then catch a train back to my parents' house.
Curse you, Mother Nature. Curse you.
Due to an abominable weather forecast that dominated the entire weekend, it looked like my safest, snow-free trip back to Boston would have to take place the following morning. Early the following morning. My new itinerary included taking a train back to my parents' house to finish packing before dawn, and hitting the road back to Boston by 7.00 A.M. Sleep didn't seem to factor into this new equation. However, I didn't trouble myself with such wearisome thoughts, and instead focused on the somewhat abbreviated night of mayhem ahead.
I'm still recovering from the last few predominantly sleepless days, but I promised to share what I'd learned when I got back, so I'll quickly address those, finish watching the Golden Globes, then go to bed.
1.) I really loathe loud, underage drunkards. On the train into Grand Central, my friend the birthday girl and I found ourselves situated next to a pack of them. These people were probably college sophomores on their way to their own drinking adventure in the city, and were each equipped with two Poland Springs bottles: one filled with orange juice, and the other filled with (probably cheap) vodka. They sat no more than inches from each other, but screamed to be heard over each other anyway. Their conversation consisted of how much information they (didn't) memorise on their fake I.D.s, bumper stickers they'd sent each other on Facebook, and what they thought of each other when they'd first met (mostly, "I thought you were so cool," and "I thought you were such a b****!") . . . all at the top of their lungs. Our ears bled for the entire hour.
2.) Ninety-nine-cent "Happy Birthday" tiaras are likely to attract perhaps undesired attention in borderline sketchy bars. I really don't think that this requires any elaboration.
"Wait for You," Nelly Furtado
"How Far We've Come," Matchbox Twenty
"Gone Daddy Gone," Gnarls Barkley
"Time On Your Side," Emily Jane White
"November," Milk Inc.
"Eleanor," Low Millions
"Postcards from Italy," Beirut
Golden Globe Awards