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First RCI Cruise! Enchantment Mar 2-6


pamici
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I’ve heard it said that the two longest weeks in cruising are the one just before you sail and the one right after you come home. I can’t remember which is supposed to be worse than the other, but right now, 10 days out, is pretty rough. I have a cruise crush who only sails solo, and only on another line, but he writes the best live blogs and I wait for them like I was the one cruising. I’m going to try to ease my impatience by following his example and start a pre-cruise live review.

February of last year, my sister and I took our first cruise together. It was a first cruise for both of us, and I think we weren’t quite sure what we thought of it. I liked about 90% of the ship we sailed on, but was fairly annoyed by the other 10%. I decided that I could enjoy the heck out of any cruise if I had the right companion, or barring that, if I had easy access to the outdoors. I discovered that I need a lot more time on deck than my sister, or for that matter, my husband, with whom I took my second cruise last October.

So I was surprised when the sister asked where we were cruising next. After I informed her that pretty much all ships go to Cozumel, at least out of Galveston, I told her that if she was serious, I thought I could put together a cruise we could both enjoy. One of the things on her wish list was a shorter cruise. We’d sailed on a 5-day itinerary, and by the end she was feeling impatient to return to her grandkids and her routines. A 4-day on Enchantment of the Seas looked like a winner.

To be continued ...

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I’m experimenting with using a travel agent this time. It hasn’t been exactly life-changing, but it’s been helpful at times. I wanted a balcony, but not in close proximity to pool decks, galleys, and nightclubs. TA and I hit upon the aft junior suites, but they required a 3-person minimum occupancy. And then the lightbulb went off. We would invite my sister’s best friend to join us. With any luck, the two of them will keep each other so occupied, I can have moments of solitary bliss between the sea and the sky.

By a fluke, I saw someone’s post about the $18.00 drink package just in time to sign the three of us up. We decided against the Chef’s Table because although sister and I had enjoyed it thoroughly last year, it does take up a chunk of time and this is a pretty short cruise. Ditto for the Bottomless Brunch. I’d heard that the Key wasn’t necessarily worth the expense, but when I got the Cruise Planner email, I clicked on it anyway, just to check it out. It actually seemed like a good deal for us. 

I liked the idea of a quiet MDR lunch on embarkation day, from the Chops menu, no less, but when they threw in carry-on drop off and delivery to the stateroom (no schlepping!), I was about half-sold. We wouldn’t make use of private hours on the rock-climbing wall (sadly), but VIP seating in the theatre is another story. The option to slip out ahead of the crowd in Cozumel sounded awesome, and then there was another seated breakfast on debarkation morning. I pulled the trigger and I have no regrets.

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The three of us will be driving in from our hometowns, Dallas, Austin, and Houston, respectively, to meet in Galveston on Sunday, March 1st. I may or may not be planning to be the first to arrive. I’m crazy about my family, but it’s been 23 years since I’ve been able to move freely about the planet on my own and I’m looking forward to some solitude where I can get it. I’ve booked a hotel on the Seawall which has the shuttle service and cruise parking option. It’s very close to one of my favorite Galveston haunts, Jimmy’s on the Pier, and we had plans for cocktails, dinner, and sunset the night before we sail. However, turns out they are in the midst of a renovation and set to re-open that day. With any luck, they will be ready and not overly crowded, but there are lots of other options, so I’m not worried.

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Normally I’m packed way, way ahead of time. This time I packed up one week out, mainly because I’ve been sewing a few items to wear on the cruise and I gotta finish something before I can pack it. Nothing like adding a little pressure there at the last minute! 

I’m also attempting to pair down and consolidate what I take. Since we only have one port day and it’s just a beach day, I won’t need that much variety. However, I feel like we’ll divide our time pretty evenly between the Solarium and the rest of the ship, so I’ll need to prepare for both. Without a laundry room on board, I can’t repeat-wear as easily. I’ve got it down to one small rolling case and one duffle, into which I’ve added the pool bag that will double as purse as needed. I’ll porter the roller, check the duffle in the MDR with the Key, retrieving my pool bag carry on at that time. Until the little wrinkle with the Coast Guard, I had hoped to have a welcome aboard cocktail at the R bar, lunch in the MDR, then wander the ship and/or sip another cocktail in the Solarium hot tub until we and our room are ready for each other. We shall see …

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Speaking of said playlist - I think this will get me all the way to Galveston:

  • All I Wanna Do - Sheryl Crow
  • All Night Long - Lionel Richie
  • Beyond the Sea - Bobby Darin
  • Boat Drinks - Jimmy Buffett
  • Break for the Border - Acoustic Alchemy
  • Cake By the Ocean - DNCE
  • Cantaloop (Flip Fantasia)
  • Caribbean Blue - Enya
  • Cheers - Rihanna
  • City of Dreams - Talking Heads
  • Come Sail Away - Styx
  • Conga - Miami Sound Machine
  • Dance with Me - Orleans
  • Deck 9 - Funkagenda
  • Drift Away - Dobie Gray
  • Escapade - Janet Jackson
  • Freedom - Pitbull
  • Good Times - Chic
  • Haitian Divorce - Steely Dan
  • Heaven - Los Lonely Boys
  • Hey Now Now - Michael Franti
  • Holiday - Madonna
  • Island Girl - Elton John
  • Island in the Sun - Weezer
  • Knee Deep - Zac Brown Band
  • Kokomo - Beach Boys
  • La Isla Bonita - Madonna
  • Let’s Groove - Earth, Wind, & Fire
  • Livin La Vida Loca - Ricky Martin
  • Mambo No. 5 - Lou Bega
  • Mas Que Nada - Sergio Mendes
  • Yeke Yeke - Mory Kante
  • Orinoco Flow - Enya
  • Oye Como Va - Santana
  • Runaway - Janet Jackson
  • Sail On - Commodores
  • Sail on Sailor - Beach Boys
  • Sailing - Christopher Cross
  • Sea Cruise - Frankie Ford
  • Seagull - Bad Company
  • Shake Shake Senora - Harry Belefonte
  • Sinner in the Sea - Calexico
  • Smooth - Santana
  • Smooth Operator - Sade
  • Soak up the Sun - Sheryl Crow
  • Southern Cross - Crosby, Stills, & Nash
  • Steal Away - Robbie Dupree
  • Steal My Sunshine - Len
  • Summer Breeze - Seals and Croft
  • Tik Tok - Kesha
  • Totally Nude - Talking Heads
  • Un poco de amor - Shakira
  • Uptight - Stevie Wonder
  • Walking on Sunshine - Katrina & the Waves
  • Where the Boat Leaves From - Zac Brown Band

 

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This day is going by much too slowly. ?

Back to daydreaming:

Since we will be kicking around Galveston Sunday afternoon, I thought I’d find some fun stuff for us to do until time for Jimmy’s. As noted a few posts up, there is a wonderful thread by Galveston Steve that is a wealth of information. My instincts always lean first to food and drink, so that’s where I started. In my defense, the last time I tried to wander around cool historical buildings in Galveston, I slipped down a flight of stairs and tore my rotator cuff. (Actually, I might have been pushed by a ghost, but I digress.)

Texas Tail Distillery got my attention. 

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15 minutes ago, melmar02 said:

Which haunted tour have you been on? DH and I will be solo in May, so this may be fun for us sans-kiddos.

It wasn't exactly a tour - my kids and I were poking around Ashton Villa after stopping into the visitor's center and wandered into the wedding venue area. Of course, we had to climb the steep and narrow stairs, to what would have been the family living areas (now I think used for the bride's rooms), and quickly hit a dead end. Coming back down, the steps were crazy-slick and I went about half the way on my tush, with my left hand still attached the the hand rail way back up yonder. The kids like to tease me that I was sent packing by a former resident. All I know is, I wouldn't want to try and maneuver those steps in a wedding gown!

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I love the Strand and the other inland destinations, but this trip, I’d like to stick close to the Seawall. And if I’m going to be sampling the whiskey flight (“if”, lol), I’d rather not have to drive back to my hotel. I’ve always wanted to rent a bike in Galveston, but for some silly reason, the idea of me riding a two-wheeler between the beach and the traffic scares my husband half to death (see above slipping down the stairs incident). So … bike surrey it is! 

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Rented from Island Bicycle Company for $68 after tax for the day. We’ll have to take turns pedaling each other around. The weather is supposed to be “cloudy, breezy, and mild” - hopefully the exercise will be sobering!

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There was another rental company in town that would have delivered a surrey to our hotel and then picked it up again at the end of the day. However, I couldn’t set up the rental online, so that was a deal breaker, for me at least. 

The parking near Island Bicycle Company looks pretty sparse, and I’ll have free parking at the hotel already. It could be fun to take the trolley down the Seawall to our surrey and the route seems quite doable. Pick up at 81st, jump off at 19th, a short walk at either end and $1.00 a person each way. Then we pedal our way back down the Seawall to the distillery, our hotel, and whatever else we discover on the way. Just have to remember to return the surrey by about 5-ish so we’ll have time to get ready for dinner and hopefully snag a good seat for the sunset.

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I left Dallas about 7:30 Sunday morning, which was later than I wanted, but I decided coffee with my honey was more important than getting my money's worth on the surrey rental. 

My playlist gets me to just north of Texas City, so might have to add a few more songs. I decided to go straight to the Gumbo Diner.

It was so good. Country fried steak, eggs and hashbrowns. I sat at the bar around a food prep area and chatted with the very friendly waitstaff and an islander who appeared to be looking for wife number 3. I wasn't able to help him with that.

By the time I'd finished my brunch, it was almost 2:00 and I figured I'd better get the surrey.

 

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No issues with parking at the rental place because they keep your driver's license, but here's pictureof the ride I didn't need. Kind of a wrestle pedaling alone but I got used to it in a couple of blocks. So windy the red flags were horizontal, but I saw lots of interesting places along seawall that I'll want to check out in the future. I had a lot of time to observe,  it took an hour to go 1.8 miles.

 

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I met sister at the distillery, where we fortified ourselves with a martini for her and a flight of whiskey for me. I prefer a single malt Highland scotch with some years on it, but these were definitely yummy. 

Sister helped pedal back down the seawall to my car (only took 30 minutes with two of us!), and we drove to  Cajun Greek to meet our travel companion for dinner. 

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Hotel and breakfast were good and the shuttle picks up every 30 minutes for the port.

Nice shuttle, only ones on it at 10:30, zero delays, straight  to the porters, portered large suitcases, walked straight to check in with no one ahead of us, same with the scanners.

Ok so the key is 1000% worth it. And many thanks to the cruiser who told me not to sweat the Coast Guard inspection. We were on board by 11:30 after about a 30 minute wait with water and cookies in the waiting area.

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We pretty much went straight to the MDR and dropped the carry on bags. Had a nice lunch, all good except mac and cheese, and plenty of time to wander while waiting for rooms. We eventually wandered to the Schooner bar for cocktails.

Our room is good, if a bit worn and grubby in the upholstery, and the balcony is awesome. The carry on bag we checked in the MDR was tucked away in the closet when we got here and the rest of our bags were delivered as we headed out for muster.

 

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After muster we grabbed a roast beef sammie at the Park Cafe and peeked in at the spa. We cleaned up and went to Boleros for a bit before catching the early show of the comedy headliner. Our front row seats courtesy of the key were very nice. Comedian was good, but the sign language interpreter was the best part, especially when he signed the music. 

After comedy, friend Beth got in line for her free charm bracelet. It's pretty cute! The bracelet is free, the charms are 5 for $10, and every day for the rest of the cruise, you can get the charm of the day for $5, with another freebie at the end of the trip if you collect them all. It's a marketing ploy, but an effective one and a win-win. 

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When we went for our "my time dining" at around 8:00, we discovered we actually had assigned seating at 5:30, which we never requested. They did accommodate us and although MTD was full, they agreed to split the difference and seat us at 6:30. 

Today has been punctuated by between meals with a view, bars with a view, and spa treatments,  with a view. I'd love to go to the silent disco tonight, if only it started at 8 instead of 10.

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