Posts tagged anniversary
The final post in this series…
- NCL Bahamas Cruise Part 1: Miami Beach, Florida
- NCL Bahamas Cruise Part 2: The Trip to the Bahamas
- NCL Bahamas Cruise Part 3: People on the Cruise
- NCL Bahamas Cruise Part 4: Stuart Cove’s SUB Adventure
If I had to grade the cruise experience with Norwegian on a scale of 1 to 10 (with 10 being the best) I would have to put it at a 6.5. Now, if you’ve read my other posts about our trip you’re probably thinking something like “Why? You said you had such a great time and the food was awesome and and…”
Well, the bulk of the experience was great. Unfortunately, my value of money spent on the cruise dropped significantly the moment we arrived to Norwegian’s private island: Great Stirrup Cay. The trip, in effect, turned into a great movie with a really bad ending that almost ruined the whole flick.
First off, our itinerary got reversed due to a storm floating around the Caribbean. Originally we were supposed to go to Great Stirrup Cay first and then Nassau. This wasn’t Norwegian’s fault (obviously) but the result of doing so really accentuated the island’s issues. You see, there were a limited number of things to do on the island and (as a result of the nearby storm and choppy waters) a number of excursions were cancelled.
So Great Stirrup Cay went from very little to do to almost nothing.
Then there’s the island itself. The best description I can give of (Not So) Great Stirrup Cay is this: instead of being an island with some construction going on, the place was a nothing more than a beach on a busy construction site. Check out these photos:
I understand that destinations like this will occasionally be under renovation, but Great Stirrup Cay was like eating at a restaurant with a half finished dining room and a kitchen that wasn’t ready to open. The cruise line shouldn’t be promoting this destination or even letting people on the island when it is painfully obvious that it is nowhere near completion. Read: I felt like I wasted my time and money going there.
At my office, I have a friend who LOVES going on cruises. She and her boyfriend were excited at the prospect of having another couple to travel to islands with. I was happy to report that Shannon can, in fact, survive sea travel… but it was disappointing to report that (for my money spent) Norwegian Cruise Line really dropped the ball on an entire day of our vacation.
I guess that’s why there are so many others to choose from.
So it goes.
For those of you that have met me in person, you know that I am a shy person and generally considered an introvert. </sarcasm>
Cruise ships are a great place to have random conversations, meet people and partake in one of my favorite past times: people watching. Here are my observations regarding the types of people you can expect to run into on a cruise.
1. The Other Couple
If you’re a couple without kids then you invariably gravitate to other couples in similar circumstances. This rule doesn’t only apply to cruises, but to vacations in general. Our “other couple” we met were Shannon and Nicole. Starting from the left on the photo above they are (respectively) the first two people seated playing bingo with us. Shannon is a guy (since the name works for both genders) and it was the similarity in names that prompted the conversation when we met them during our sub adventure in the Bahamas.
The sub adventure will be detailed in tomorrow’s post.
Proving that “Other Couples” tend to follow the same entertainment pattern, we would run into each other on the cruise: walking around the island, going to bingo, during meals, etc. Eventually, it is best to just give up and keep contact with one another in order to plan meals and whatnot as a group (which we did.) I’ve since heard from Shannon via email and Nicole via Facebook proving that making friends from around the world (they are from Utah) can be fun. YAY INTERNET!
2. The Jersey Shore
Sorry, but I didn’t manage to get photos of these guys. There were four men on the cruise that appeared to be regular followers of the Church of GTL. We first came upon them during dinner on Friday night when they had the table next to us. They were loud, but not rude which (to me) means they were just really damn entertaining. The irony? While they fit the bill of the Jersey Shore stereotype (build, tan, accents,etc.) they were actually from Miami, Florida.
The next night when I was wandering the ship watching people (Shannon was passed out on Dramamine) I passed them near the buffet at the aft end of the boat. Well – almost all of them. Three of the group were at a table with three ladies they met on the cruise. I can only assume that were trying to see if these fair damsels were DTF, and I think it is safe to assume that they had a fourth friend who was DTF since one of the crew was missing.
I watched and eavesdropped for a bit that night. The highlight was one of the girls deciding to go back to her room which resulted in one of the guys offer to walk her back. She insisted that she was fine going on her own. He kept insisting that she shouldn’t walk alone. It was comical and I’m sorry to say that I didn’t stay long enough to report what happened in the end.
3. The Almost Naked Lost Woman
(Sorry. No photos of this one.)
The night I went people watching, while Shannon snoozed doped up on Dramamine, I ran into a colorful cast of characters on the cruise ship. This character’s color was blue.
I was walking up the stairs on my way to the on board casino when I came upon a woman walking half a flight ahead of me in a short blue dress. From my angle below her, it was evident that she was wearing nothing else. This woman proceeded to stop on the same floor and, interestingly enough, began walking toward the casino where I was heading. It was fascinated to see her wander looking aimlessly everywhere giving the impression that (shocker!) drugs may have been involved.
Upon arrival at the casino, I stopped at a slot machine and she kept going. You would think this is the end of the story, but then she wouldn’t make much of a character in the post now would she? The woman passed my me again in the casino about five minutes later walking in the opposite direction.
Then again five minutes later.
After the fifth half naked walk by, I finally decided to amuse myself and ask her if she was lost. She seemed normal enough and I couldn’t smell alcohol on her breath. She replied, politely and seemingly soberly, “Nope. Thank you.”
I went back to the slot machine. She went back to walking back and forth… eight more times in forty minutes.
She could have very well been a ghost since no one else seemed to notice her. In reality, though, she was probably just a stoned thirty something with an aversion to bras and panties.
4. The Drunk Forty-Something-Year-Old Woman
This particular character led me to an interesting observation about the social groups on my boat – but I’m getting ahead of myself. Let’s tell the tale of the very friendly lady I met on the boat.
After leaving the casino, I walked over to the elevator to find my way to my room. As the doors to the lift closed, an intoxicated woman with a VERY large drink stumbled dashed into the elevator with me. Seeing me seemed to make her eyes widen with excitement.
I was scared.
“Hello,” I replied.
“Do you know where Dazzles is? The night club? I want to go. I want to go dancing there.”
I could see that this might be entertaining in the worst possible way, so I replied, “No. I don’t. Let’s look at the map.” We stepped outside the elevator and I pointed out that dance club was on the sixth deck. Pointing it out, though, was most likely useless since the amount of booze in her system probably just made it look like a colorful blob on the wall.
She was downright giddy at the prospect of going to what was, according to her, going to be an awesome time. We stepped into the elevator and we got off on deck six.
“This way!” she muttered trying to lead me towards the loud thumping music.
“I’m going to get some air. You go on ahead.”
I walked back inside and headed down to Dazzles night club (which was a bar in the boat with a ten by ten dance floor.) There I made an interesting social observation. Here it is:
- The “hot girl” to “hot guy” ratio on a cruise ship is significantly skewed. Plenty of eye candy for the ladies to look at; very little for the men to look at. In short: lots of built good looking males were on the ship.
- As the night goes on, the pool of people for potential hookups gets smaller and smaller. It’s a cruise ship, which means that the population is a fixed number for the duration of the trip barring anyone jumping overboard.
- The later the night got, the drunker the hot guys would get, and (by default) the hornier. With a limited number of partners to choose from, though, their standards would get lower and lower.
Thus I saw the drunk woman (and others like her) dancing on a dance floor with model calibur men. They would dance for a few minutes, consider their options and move on to another dance partner. As the night pressed on and availability of the opposite sex waned, the partners would start sticking together.
The moral of the story (and my social observation) is this: if you’re a woman who doesn’t normally score the “hot guy” and you’ve always wanted that chance, cruise ships are for you.
5. The Bachelorette Party
Shannon and I ran into this group while sitting in the hot tub Sunday during the cruise. They we nice enough women with a LOT of cleavage and a proclivity to talk without needing to stop for breaths. The ship’s captain walked by while we were all in the hot tub and (of course!) the girls from the party knew him by name since he was a “hot guy.” They waved to get his attention and he stopped for a few moments to ask if they were having a good time.
I can only guess that bachelorette parties (we’re sure there were a few on board) made sense on a cruise ship based on my observations in “The Drunk Forty-Something-Year-Old Woman” story. Ladies: take note.
6. The Real (Angry) Housewife of New Jersey
This was another fun five minutes spent people watching at night. A couple were sitting outside near the buffet at the aft of the ship and… yes. I spent a lot of time at the buffet at the aft of the ship. Go ahead an judge.
Back to the story: the woman and her husband were sitting there late at night and I couldn’t help but overhear what she was saying. In fact, anyone within fifty feat of them would be hard pressed NOT to hear what she was saying. She spoke to a man who appeared all but broken to me. He was hunched over the table. In one hand he had a credit card and the other held a drink. He held his focus on the table, not staring at anything in particular; just obviously NOT staring at her.
In a thick New Jersey accent, she proceeded to tell him how embarrassing it was that when she went out when the other couples/their friends on the boat that hers was the only spouse that didn’t come along. The one sided conversation contained a lot of “obvious you don’t love me” statements peppered with the “it’s so fuckin’ annoying” comments.
He said nothing.
She kept talking: Even if he didn’t want to go to the events/parties he still should; did he not want to spend time with her and why not; her friends were always asking where he was; etc.
He still said nothing.
The kicker is this: from the words and questions asked that I’ve described you might assume that this was a woman in tears pleading with her husband. Nope. She was yelling. Not crying/yelling – yelling. As in lecturing a little kid yelling. She was, in short, angry. The lecture’s source didn’t seem to be frustration from the lack of love, but (in fact) the amount of embarrassment she was being forced to endure.
Oh, New Jersey.
Baltimore is the nickname I gave to three black women we met during the sub adventure. They don’t really fit into any particular story or stereotype on the boat… I just wanted to make mention of them because they were a lot of fun. On the last night of the cruise (Sunday) two of them ditched the third during bingo so I found her in the room and insisted she sit with Shannon, myself and the Other Couple. She’s the one on the far right of the photo in this post.
I’m sure I’m leaving out some other great stories, but one thing is for sure: if you like people watching, you’ll love going on a cruise.
We got on a boat. Remember that this was going to be our first cruise. I had been on “booze cruises” in the past – the ones that take you far out enough to gamble legally and then back the same night. Shannon’s experience with boats extended (more or less) to being a dreamy eyed teenage girl when Titanic was in theaters. Combined our experience gave us a very limited view of what to expect. Then we saw the boat… and it was BIG:
For our first adventure, I opted to get us a room with a porthole so we could see outside when we felt like it. We discussed getting a balcony, but Shannon vetoed this for our initial outing since she was unsure how she’d react. Our room was small (which we expected.) Check it out:
We took time to walk around the boat and see what they had to offer in the way of distractions while we were at sea. There was a lot to do and a lot to EAT. We’re talking non-stop buffets and restaurants and pizza delivery to your room and PRETZEL ROLLS FROM THE GODS. In retrospect, I’m pretty sure that Shannon downed over a dozen of those tasty morsels in three nights. If you ever take a Norwegian Cruise – seek out the pretzel rolls. You’ll thank me.
Once the cruise was underway, we got treated to a beautiful view of Miami at dusk. I took a ton of photos (you can see here) and this is one of my favorites:
Then we were out to sea. Each night of travel was a different experience. Here’s a breakdown.
- NIGHT #1: Choppy seas. Shannon opts to take some Dramamine (photo) after attempting to tough it out for a couple of hours.
- NIGHT #2: Average seas. Shannon decides not to risk it and takes two Dramamine as soon as we set sail. She remains passed out all night.
- NIGHT #3: Calm seas. Shannon is relieved and walks around in heels the whole night. No nausea. No Dramamine. Smooth sailing.
I was fine all three nights, but I attribute that to years making believe I was walking on unstable footing as a child (thanks to Star Trek turbulence scenes and the asteroid field scene in The Empire Strikes Back.)
After the first night at sea we found ourselves in The Bahamas. I even found Wi-fi from the island and checked in on Foursquare: https://foursquare.com/v/port-of-bahamas/4b828127f964a520b2d530e3
For our fourth anniversary trip, Shannon and I took our first ever cruise. Since Shannon grew up in Georgia (and we weren’t sure about her ‘sea legs’) we opted to start with a simple three night/two day excursion to the Bahamas. We kicked off the trip but getting a hotel down on Miami Beach and spending some time around South Beach and Lincoln Road.
The Four Points by Sheraton on Miami Beach
This bit of our trip would be funny if it wasn’t so sad due to previous events leading up to it. You see, we chose to stay at the Four Points by Sheraton because I had a fairly decent amount of Starwoods points on my account. Enough, in fact, for a free stay at a beach resort. It’s the source of the points (and the subsequent effect) that speaks so poorly about the Starwoods brand.
- I was booked to stay at a Westin in Indianapolis back in August for Gen Con. When I got to the hotel, they had messed up and overbooked. The hotel paid to drive me (and my team from Wasabi Anime) across town, 30 minutes away, to stay a Sheraton. You can read about it here: http://www.tomcroom.com/?p=7783
- To make amends for the mistake, Starwoods had me open an account with them and put in enough points for two free nights at a mid-range hotel.
- When Shannon and I stayed at the Four Points in Miami Beach, there were two parties going on outside our window. Loud parties. Loud parties that blasted music until after 1:00 AM. Not ‘room parties’ – actual booked at the resort style parties with live DJs and whatnot. Here’s me tweeting about it: http://twitter.com/#!/TomCroom/status/134874330726281216
- The @StarwoodBuzz Twitter account saw my tweet and called the hotel. The hotel’s front desk called me the next morning. They apologized for the noise. Guess how they offered to make up for it… that’s right. They added more points to my Starwoods account.
South Beach, Miami, Florida
The next morning, we walked around South Beach and did some window shopping. I made sure to kiss my wife at 11/11/11 at 11:11 AM because it seemed like the thing to do while at the Art Deco Welcome Center. We bought a couple of things here and there and then stopped for breakfast at the Puerta Sagua Restaurant. The place is a retro style diner that serves Cuban food. Sitting on the stool at the counter, the restaurant emits an awesome classic touristy Florida vibe. Check out the place mats:
This place just SCREAMED classic cool. Seriously. When was that last time you walked into a diner that still sold cigarettes behind the counter by the food? (Photo here.) The meal was great and it was here, at this diner, that I discovered an amazing food fusion I had never heard of:
A plantain omelet.
FOOD HEAVEN. Unfortunately, I only got to eat half of it since Shannon also discovered how great it was but failed to order one for herself. The meal hit the spot (and it was served with fresh squeezed orange juice made in front of us!) so we continued walking up and down the strip for a couple more hours.
I love South Beach. The architecture coupled with the air and sunshine give the place a unique feeling. There’s a reason I live close enough to visit it regularly. Living there, though, I’m sure that the charm would eventually wear off. South Beach is my Santa Claus and I never want to lose the magic of believing.
After touring the town for a bit, we headed over to the Port of Miami and got on a really big boat…
To be continued.
Good morning! I am enjoying Internet while I still have it before getting on a boat and praying Shannon doesn’t try to throw me overboard. For those of you playing catch up, today is our four (4) year anniversary. Since getting married, we promised ourselves that each anniversary would be spent in “a city we had never been to together.” Here’s the score thus far:
- YEAR 1: Key West, Florida
- YEAR 2: Baltimore, Maryland (by way of Washington, DC.)
- YEAR 3: The Grand Canyon, Arizona
(This last one really kind of says it all, doesn’t it?)
More to come… just not so sure about when.
Today is 11/11/11. And here I am in the lobby of our hotel in Miami Beach:
Here’s Shannon. Same lobby.
It should be noted that SHE is the younger of us.
We’re chilling in the lobby before getting a cruise to the Bahamas tomorrow. It will be our first cruise and we’re hoping LOTS of food and NOT LOTS of sea sickness.
For now, we’ll watch a few minutes of a soap opera called Hasta Que el Dinero Nos Separe that’s on in the lobby of the hotel. (Translation: “Until the Money do us Part”)
So happy anniversary, Mrs. Croom. I love you.
So how did I wind up in Vegas? I’ll make this part straight to the point:
- Wasabi Anime appeared at Gen Con this year.
- Instead of a Wasabi Anime table in the dealers room, we opted to let the Mint Chocolate Chippies promote during the convention.
- Gamers, it seems, love Mary & Pepper Mint (and pin up models in general.)
- The Mint Chocolate Chippies got invited to appear at NeonCon via the convention’s staff that Mary and Pepper met while attending Gen Con.
- NeonCon learned that the Mint Chocolate Chippies are managed by Green Mustard Entertainment… the company that owns Wasabi Anime.
- Looking to expand their programming, NeonCon then invited Wasabi Anime to be guests. Tentacle Chris and I also got scheduled to appear.
And this photo:
Each year, Shannon and I plan a trip for our anniversary (mid-November) to go someplace that we’ve never been to together. So we decided to extend being in Las Vegas for NeonCon in order to go see the Grand Canyon. So our anniversaries to date have been
2008 – Key West, Florida
2009 – Baltimore, Maryland (by way of Washington, DC)
2010 – Grand Canyon, Arizona (by way of Las Vegas, NV)
NeonCon very much reminded me of Ancient City Con (a convention Wasabi Anime appeared at this year in Jacksonville, Florida.) It’s a smaller event, but full of a lot of people dedicated to having fun in their geekdom. One of the best things about NeonCon, quite obviously, was the location: The Tropicana in Las Vegas. The resort is just finishing up a MAJOR renovation and the entire place had that new-yet-retro feel to it. Certain parts of it weren’t done yet (such as the swimming pool renovation and The Las Vegas Mob Experience) so I’d be interested to see how it looks the next time I return.
The hotel and the convention both made for great experiences. You can see all the photos on Wasabi Photoshoots by clicking here, but none of the photos is as epic as this one I took of Tentacle Chris while we walked down to The Strip to grab lunch at Del Taco:
Thank you. Thank you very much.