Monday, November 2, 2009

Let the journey begin!

I found it very challenging packing for this particular trip because it had 3 legs: a visit to see my son at college in Rochester, NY; the cruise; and 2 days in LA. Since there were no laundry rooms on the ship, I had to pack for 9 days. I also wanted to pack my portable photo printer and half a case of water & snacks for the ship. That alone took up one suitcase along with toiletries! Seems the older I get, the more I need. LOL

I kept the NY items in a tote bag, loaded 9 days of clothes in my big duffle bag, and hoped I wouldn't be getting too much stuff from Tim (I should've known better after the Alaska cruise!) I convinced myself that I'd be OK cause the water would be consumed, the snacks would be eaten, and I'd have less toiletries.

We left Friday morning after dropping my daughter off at school (she's a HS senior), and I started off my 5-hour drive to his college already forgetting my fleece. Bummer. We got up there, and you guessed it, it was cold. Rick wanted to buy me yet another R.I.T. (Brendan's college) fleece, but I just borrowed one of my son's.

This was our first visit to see him since he started. I only had the one day with him, so after his classes were over we went out to dinner and then we caught Jim Gaffigan's show at the campus. Funny guy! I had to say my good-byes to Brendan after the show because my flight left early Sat. morning.

I didn't realize I hadn't taken any pictures of our visit with him, so this is a photo from when we dropped him off at school at the end of August.

The next morning, Rick took me to the Rochester airport, and I had the best seat on the plane! It was a single seat (#1) as soon as you come on the plane, right next to the flight attendant's station, and the lavatories were right next to that. Perfect. I did have to change planes in Chicago, and that went off without a hitch.

When I arrived in LA, there was a little mix-up with the shuttle, but after texting Andrea, who was already in the hotel, we straightened it out and I was on my way. I met a lovely couple from England and another couple from Texas in my shuttle who'd also be on the cruise. I ended up seeing both couples throughout the week, especially Bob & Dorothy from Texas. I saw them so much you would've thought they were in our group!

I settled into the room, and Andrea & I went down to the lounge to meet the other cruisers. What fun! I ordered a margarita to get me in the vacation mode (I don't drink, but I make up for it when I vacation alone ... when the cat's away ...), and it went straight to my head! I only drank half and decided we needed to eat. We grabbed a bunch of girls (and Jon-Luc ... hope I spelled that right) and found a great Mexican restaurant by the water.

The next morning, we had breakfast and got in line early for the shuttle to the ship. So glad we listened to Gloria and got there early.

We had a very creative porter when we got to the ship. He got everything on one cart (there were 7 or 8 of us!). I tried videotaping him, but was told I wasn't allowed to take any pictures of the port. Guess I shouldn't be posting this!

We had about an hour wait in the port, but it was nice. We got to spend time with fellow cruisers, either re-acquainting ourselves, or getting to know new friends.

We finally got on the ship (Royal Caribbean's Mariner of the Seas), and it was H-U-G-E! This balcony overlooked several decks and the promenade of shops. You'd never know you were on a ship looking at it. Above the shops were windows to some of the inside cabins. I commented about how I'd hate one of those cabins cause you'd always have to leave the curtains closed for privacy. With that, an older woman opened her curtains and was checking out her view. We caught her attention, and I motioned for her to lift her shirt, and to my surprise, she did! We were all histerically laughing, and some of my group flashed her back! She went and brought an even older woman to the window, and I flashed her. She got this very surprised look on her face, and then flashed me back!

By now, a crowd had gathered since we were making so much noise, and that's when we met Bjorn. He caught me flashing the lady, and I thought he was gonna throw me off the ship. Instead, he pretty much said "glad you're having a good time."

We strolled around and stopped by Guest Services to pick up the ship's daily news to see what events were going on while we waiting to get into our cabins. Lots of stores & ship's services had tables set up in the promenade of shops. One booth had a girl who did airbrush tattoos, and you could get a free star tattoo. Andrea & I stood on this line so long that we decided to make it worth our while and purchase one.

While waiting on this forever tattoo line, we were missing the 'scavenger' hunt that was going on around us. Turns out that all the tables that were set up had answers to questions for a contest to win prizes from all the ships services like massages, souvenirs and more. We only had about 20 minutes to get all the answers. We got them and put our ballots in the big clear cube of entries with 10 minutes to spare. We saw Bjorn who was at the Bingo table, and Andrea had to have the T-shirt, so we bought the 4 lottery tickets so she could get one. I won $5 on one of mine. When we went back to the clear cube of entries, we saw people around it looking in the cube and copying the answers, so Andrea & I quickly copied answers and put in a 2nd entry each. Well, we won! First, I won, you'll never guess ... a free tattoo! And then Andrea won right after me ... get this ... a Bingo T-shirt! Too funny.

We finally were allowed to go to our cabins, and Andrea always has to take 'before' pictures when she gets a room.

She even takes pictures of the bathroom! We were told that they'd separate the beds for us and put the nightstands in the middle, but we decided to keep the beds together to save room. Figured if I could sleep with Rick, I could sleep with anybody! LOL

We had a balcony cabin, and we enjoyed the view as we left port. Our voyage begins!


Anonymous said...

Oh, I am sooo glad you decided to do this Stephanie! I didn't want all the blogging to end, and now you've just begun!
Don't stop now! I want to read every word, see every picture. Just love the re-living of this wonderful experience.

Patti said...

Thanks for a great first day recap. I'd forgotten about Bjorn and the flashers! I can't believe how much you won. Lucky!

Lori said...

Nice pics, Stephanie! The tat is very becoming!

Francesca said...

great recap!! waiting for more :-)

Anonymous said...

It was so much fun to relive the fun of the tattooing and the flashing...I had almost forgotten.