A couple of things up front:
A) This was the blogs first cruise, so there will be a lot of things that it will marvel at that you cruise veterans will roll your eyes over.
B) Going on a cruise was not on my bucket list. (Well, maybe if I could have a REALLY big bucket.) These posts may sound like I'm a bit negative about the experience. Please keep in mind that this blog is naturally grumpy and that he was pretty much alone in his grumbling.
3) I'm going to have separate posts for each day. I'm also eventually going to post a LOT more pictures somewhere else and provide a link to them. And a couple of REALLY embarrassing movies.
And here we go!
As I mentioned in the last post, we flew into the Ft. Lauderdale airport on Sunday and spent the night at a motel just outside the Miami airport. In the morning, Mrs Notthat and I headed over to a strip mall of sorts. I wanted to pick up some dramamine and Mrs Notthat needed some Tylenol. And some quality time in this oddly named Princess Dollar Discount store.
It turned out that everyone in our group going on the cruise also stayed at the motel. In this picture, Mrs Notthat is sewing a button onto Eiluj's shorts while Sirhc delivers coffee. (Note: These are not their real names. I spent a few years in high school with these people but am not sure how litigious they might be.)
Eiluj was the spark behind organizing this event and deserves a huge thanks for herding us through the process. She didn't deserve this picture, but, well, this blog can't let good taste affect its content.
Here we are loading up to head out to the port. There were nine of us total, so the van added a trailer to haul all of our luggage.
This is a picture of a picture that was taken as we boarded the ship. (I'll talk later about all the pictures that were taken by the ship's photographers as you wandered around.)
That's Mrs Notthat on the left in the back, with her hand firmly keeping me from bolting. Next to her is LLessur (a classmate) and his wife Ydnas - newlyweds who were using this as their honeymoon. Next to her is Eibbed (classmate) who is standing behind her husband, high school sweetheart, and overall troublemaker Tap (classmate). Next to Eibbed is Sirhc (classmate and teacher in a really small town in Texas), and next to her is Eiluj (classmate, organizer, and owner of a pair of shorts with a by now fully functioning button). Last but far from least is Eisserp (classmate in red who is now retired and living in Arizona, and normally has a golf club in his hand).
I'll include a lot more pictures of the ship elsewhere, but this one gives you an idea of how massive the thing is. This is inside the Grand Atrium. Extremely observant readers will see that the elevator contains Llessur, Ydnas, and Eisserp.
Our first order of business was to get lunch. There is a large general lunch area that also doubles as a madhouse. There are two buffets, a deli, a pizza bar, a bar bar, two dessert bars, and a salad bar. Guess which one didn't have a long line? This is Mrs Notthat and my first lunch. (I was surprised at how easy it was to eat fairly healthy, if you wanted to. It was just really hard to want to.)
You know how they give those safety talks that haven't changed in 40 years (are there really people that don't know how to use a seat belt still out there?) before your airplane takes off? They do something similar before the ship heads out of the port. The problem is that there are 2650 people that need to hear this talk, and there is no single room that can hold them all. So the ship is divided into "Muster Stations" and we all had to head to our assigned station.
Followed by a field trip to the lifeboats. 2650 passengers (along with about 1000 crew members) is a large number of people to fit into the lifeboats (they really did say "women and children first" but followed that up with "we'll keep families together as best we can").
Mrs Notthat enjoying a frozen yogurt as the ship pulls out of the harbor.
The blog standing at the back of the boat with the Miami skyline disappearing in the background.
Our group ate dinner in the Pride Dinning room, where we were assigned a time (6 PM) and a table (214). This was much more pleasant than fighting the crowds at the large general area. We even had a fun magician named Oel who stopped by and played with balls and cards. Our waiter, Rillem, was also great and put up with a lot from our group, including getting punched by Eiluj on the last night (to be fair, he had just tricked her into squirting herself with water).
The ship has its rooms spread out over five different levels - the higher up the more expensive the room. (All told, there were 11 floors that we could wander around on. Mrs Notthat and I rarely used the elevators, choosing to get bursts of exercise by going up and down the stairs.)
Mrs Notthat and I were on the bottom room level (deck 4). Tap and Eibbed were in the highest rooms (deck 11) and had a small private deck outside their room. Interestingly though, there was not a stunning difference between their room and ours. Theirs was a bit larger with a small couch and the private deck - ours had no couch but a fairly large window that, being closer to the water, actually was often interesting to look out of. I also think there was less swaying in the lower rooms.
In any case, this is Mrs Notthat on the private deck of Tap and Eibbed.
There were a number of choices for evening entertainment - for the first night we chose to spend some time at the karaoke bar. Here's the thing - it was mostly as bad as you would have thought. There were a LOT of people who were absolutely positive they could win American idol but were stunningly awful. I'm looking at you Charles (his real name - he was truly bad but was sure a recording contract was coming soon).
But several people stood out - a woman did an awesome Tina Turner song and Eiluj surprised us all by doing an excellent version of "I Hope You Dance" (about the only country song all night - afterwards people came up and complimented her; no autographs were given, but it was close!).
And then there was this guy, Yendor. He did three or four songs, and sang them very well, but he was much more than that and was hugely entertaining. The highlight was "Mustang Sally" where he coaxed a lot of women to join him as backup singers/dancers.
Including Eiluj, Eibbed, and Sirhc. (I've got a movie of part of this. Much fun!) And there will be more on Yendor later.
And that was it for the first day. I did not take any of the dramamine and had no queasiness at all. I slept fairly well, other than being woken up several times by kids running up and down the halls at 2 AM.
Tomorrow we dock in Key West.
That's it - move along...