August 29th 2010
The day started out as intended. The alarm clock woke us up after getting just a few hours of sleep due to packing some stuff too late, bickering about God knows what trivial doohickey to take in our carry on or main suitcase and just being too damned excited and anxious about going on the cruise and starting our adventure.
I, for one, popped a Valium before stumbling off to bed that night. I nearly leap out of bed. I might have tripped over one of our cats on the way to the shitter. Not sure. Thought I heard a meow. Though, I was so out of it because I was so fucking tired and from the pill I popped, the meowing might have come from me. Or I was hallucinating.
So the alarm wakes us at 4 in the morning. I thrust myself out of bed and realize this is it. After a little over a year of planning every last detail of this trip (except the last minute packing fiasco) the all-important first day of our highly anticipated trip of a lifetime had arrived. And by God, I was determined to get things going. Not to mention get the hell away from my family, friends, wife's co-workers, the apartment we live in and all of the rest this redneck town has to offer (which is sorrowfully not damn much)- Fuck you very much. Not to you. The people around here. To my blog pals, I bid you a sincere THANK YOU and HOWDY HO for helping to keep me halfway sane at times.
My wife grumbles, not wanting to get out of bed and I start the chaos rolling by shouting, "Hurry up! We gotta get moving!"
This pisses her the fuck off, of course. She screams back at me and I run to the bathroom to take a shower and hide until she decides not to kill me. I'm frantic, you see. I'm worried about getting to the airport on time, leaving our cats at the mercy of people who have memory problems, getting through security without much fuss or cavity searching and making it to cruise ship, Freedom of The Seas on time. Any other time, if a woman wanted to do a cavity search on me, that would be hunky dory with me. A finger up the ass, with a little knob polishing on the side from a hot chick in a uniform would be A-Okay any other day. Not that day.
After waiting for her parents to pick us up for a half hour and me going nuts because I wasn't sure if they had remembered to pick us up to take us to the airport (wife's idea... not mine), I felt like popping another Valium but I figured if I had done that, my thinking would get so freaking fuzzy that I wouldn't be able to concentrate on what and where we had to do and go. I have severe anxiety disorder which adds to the fun in all of this.
After leaving a list of instructions on the table about the cats and other stuff, we hear the phone ring. It's my wife's parents below, in our parking lot. I was so temporarily relieved, I could have cum in my pants and whistled Dixie. Instead, I grabbed our suitcase and headed down the steps in a frenzied pace. The wheels of the thing were clonk-clonk-clonking on the steps. Likely, much to the enjoyment of our neighbors trying to sleep. My wife said something like, "Don't fall before we get there."
I thought, Even if I go down these stairs, crash into a muddled mass at the bottom and break my goddamn leg so badly that my femur bone is jutting out of my thigh like a shark fin, I will, By All My Insane Might, will get on that goddamn boat! Even if I have to crawl on my belly like a big old drunken white whale with prostate cancer. Notice: I'm only mentioning marine animals thus far.
Must be a reason.
We do get to the airport on time. Getting through security at the airport was only a little annoying. Taking off your belt, shoes and the metal plate from your head is a bitch. Just kidding about the plate. I knew from talking to several people who have flown recently and checking out the airline security rules online on what to expect. The last time we flew on a plane was twenty years ago for our honeymoon. After 9/11, the difference in security is night and day, in regards to that era and now when it comes to what they want you to do in order to pass all the security checkpoints, while still keeping all of your important documents and paperwork, ready and in your hands at all times. This was tough for a nervous traveler with zero positive expectations of people like me. I figured someone would invariably fuck with us on whatever minor thing they could get crazy about. Perhaps they would think my toothbrush was a weapon of mass destruction. I don't put anything past anyone.
I've seen too much outrageous behavior during my lifetime.
Ironically, that's one of the reasons I wanted to go on this cruise. Dumbass, looney people.
Still, we passed the checkpoints with no complications and after hours of flight, continuous walking with heavy luggage that threatened to tear my arms away from my shoulders, the long boring shuttle bus ride to the ship and more miles of walking we finally make it to the cruise ship. Then it was more security checkpoints and more walking to find our cabin.
The Promenade, like a gigantic shopping mall, in the middle of Freedom of The Seas
At one of your checkpoints, they give you a plastic credit card like thing on the ship called a SeaPass, which also functions as a key to your room. But sticking the SeaPass into your cabin door slot, waiting for the little light above the handle to turn green and you turning the handle and pushing on the door at just the right second, being perfect in your timing, takes a lot of practice. We found this out the hard way the first day. And I was trying to do these manuevers without passing out.
Finally, we find our room on one of the largest cruise ship ever created. Then, after much fun of doing the old "in and out" with the fucking card, we stumble through the door. I quickly take notice of our wonderful balcony that sits just outside our cabin in the opposite direction before...
.... I collapse on our comfortable queen size bed. My wife turns on the TV. The captain of The Freedom of The Seas, Tor Olsen, is going on and on about having to go a different route that was intended. If we didn't, he said the 160,000 ton cruise ship (not including crew and passengers) might be rolled over or something by Hurricane Earl- which was a category 4 hurricane at the time. At the time, the captain on our TV was blathering on about possibly becoming shark bait after being capsized (maybe he didn't say that exactly). According to him, Earl was about to sweep across the main islands on our itinerary: St. Maarten and St. Thomas. Which was sad- because on one of those islands is a nudist beach. All that naked pussy.... just blowing in the wind.
This news came after spending (I kid you not) an hour of looking for our cabin throughout the entire length of our pro football field sized and then some- ship. We never could find someone around who could give us decent directions. I was getting frustrated and I was fading fast, due to lack of food for so long.
The first question my wife asks me, while I'm going into a diabetic coma due to lack of food for twelve hours, continuous excersize and completed depletion of glucose and patience is this:
"How are we going to get our fuckin' money back on all of our pre-paid excursions (snorkeling, quality time near the nude beach, big planned drinking fiesta on St. Thomas)?" This is quickly followed by, "Are we going to get our money back?"
I think I might have said, with spit dribbling out of the corner of my mouth, still barely breathing on the bed, "Idonnnaknowfuurrrrrkdoceiemcowweempawiejfmffufufuf."
This answer did not satisfy her. Then it dawned on her. As a diabetic, my fucking bastard self needed some sustenance.
Gosh, ya think?
So, after much poking and prodding from the wifey, I grumble, mind like spoiled jelly and follow her endlessly to a eating spot on the boat. Surprise is encountered! But not enjoyed! After searching for the restaurant that we were told was going to be open on another deck, the restaurant turns out to be closed. We are also told that-
That's the sound the horn made when the captain suddenly wanted everyone, close to being in a diabetic coma or not, to come to a certain deck to go to a "you're-fucking-capsized-and-are-now-shark-bait-in-the-ocean-drill. Chaos ensues while everyone is running around and attempting to make it to their own predetermined place on the ship, which could be any one of the 15 decks.
After struggling to the drill spot we were assigned, I stand there, trying to hold myself up, while two snot nosed teenagers beside me are playing "giggle and slappity-slap" with one another. If I had the strength, I would have thrown them overboard. They could have giggled and slappity-slapped each other all the way down to the shark infested waters. Then, if I still had a wee bit of sprightliness in me, I would give a chuckle as the sharks ate idiot a la mode until they puked.
Finally, a couple crew people come out and demonstrate how to put on life jackets and kiss your ass goodbye. The captain does some narration in the background over loud speakers, telling you where to go, what to do in the case the ship goes down and how to eat human flesh with a spoon if you should make it to a deserted island. Or whatever the fuck he was saying. I was just trying to remain conscious throughout.
Our Cruise Ship, Freedom of The Seas
When he gets to the part to everyone that our course would be changed, due to the direction Hurricane Earl was going, everyone grumbles and chatters loudly. So many different languages are going back and forth. So little food in my belly. I'm guessing some of these folks didn't tune into the boob tube when whey got inside their cabins to hear the "change of itinerary because of hurricane" news. I could tell they had the same concerns as us when it came to being refunded for their prepaid for excursions on the predestined islands. Their growing disappointment was apparent because they were getting louder and louder.
The captain must have heard all of the excitement from the top deck or something because he quickly began to apologize for the change in course. It would have helped, somewhat, if he had said that everyone would be refunded their money for their prepaid for excursions but he didn't. I believe this would have quelled a lot of hostility and frustration among the 3, 634 passengers.
Instead, all of this stuff was going on with the tired, hungry, lost, disappointed passengers and all of us found ourselves at a very rocky start to our trip.
Finally, after more walking, we find a restaurant to eat at that was open. I eat. My wife grumbles about the food quality at this particular eatery. The ship rocks back and forth from a storm. And slowly, I gain enough strength and rise in my blood sugar to make my way back to our cabin, but not before getting lost a couple more times. The signs on board the ship, telling you where this or that was, were utter confusing crap.
Like I said, the first day damn near killed me. But the bed in our room was so nice and inviting. I lay there, full, content and honestly happy that we had made it this far. What was left of our night, was spent in our room, unpacking a little, watching the news and being rocked by the waves of the deep blue ocean. I secretly hoped the next day would be better.... and it was.